G. Hughes, E. Wood, Kaori Kitagawa
Jan 2, 2014
Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning
Distance learners often rely on written feedback for learning and for motivation. But feedback that is ‘given’ to learners and that relies on praise to motivate does not engage learners in the process of self-development. We propose that an ipsative approach to assessment and feedback based on a comparison with a learner’s previous performance motivates distance learners by developing a self-awareness of progress that encourages learners to interact with feedback and apply this to future work. A study of a distance learning Masters programme in Educational Leadership indicated that formal self-referential (ipsative) feedback was largely absent. An ipsative feedback scheme was therefore developed in consultation with the tutors in which students completed a reflection on their progress in implementing past feedback. Tutors provided both an ipsative and a developmental response. Student and tutor evaluations of the scheme indicated that feedback on progress has the potential to motivate distance learners and to encourage them to act on developmental feedback, but can also raise grade expectations. Sustainable methods of applying ipsative feedback to a wide range of distance learning programmes are worth further exploration.