What is audio feedback?

AF-toolkit-bannerAudio feedback is the recording and distribution of spoken feedback given on a student’s work.

This high-level definition accommodates the adoption of several principles and their application to the learning context. This results in numerous adaptable models. Feedback takes many forms that ensure it is fit for purpose allowing each academic adopter devises a model of feedback that works for them and their students.

Audio feedback principles

The first guiding principle is to understand audio feedback as a set of methods that exemplify effective feedback.

  1. Audio feedback exemplifies effective feedback methods – audio feedback, in its many forms, exemplifies good effective feedback practice as captured in the work of scholars like David Nicol and the REAP project, for example.

    Good feedback practice:
    1. Facilitates the development of self-assessment (reflection) in learning.
    2. Encourages teacher and peer dialogue around learning.
    3. Helps clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, expected standards).
    4. Provides opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance.
    5. Delivers high quality information to students about their learning.
    6. Encourages positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem.
    7. Provides information to teachers that can be used to help shape the teachings.
    (Nicol & McFarlane-Dick, 2006)

  2. Audio feedback clarifies learning – audio is well-suited for quickly giving detailed and direct explanations in a way that is perceived to be supportive.

  3. Audio feedback personalises learning – it establishes, or is part of, a dialogic learning ethos. The use of voice establishes a connection between the marker and the student. Students value the evident interest of their teacher in their work; an interest that is often harder to convey using other media. Discussion brings a depth to the experience of learning. Learning is personalised because implicit and explicit feedback is constructed in ways that are useful to each learner in ways that allow them to reshape and build upon what they know, the skills they have, and the identities they are forming.

  4. Audio feedback is meaningful – the feedback is an intervention that can be used to challenge, redirect, support and motivate the learner. It is meaningful because the learner immediately understands how the feedback relates to what they have done and how they can apply it to what they will continue to do academically, and what they aspire to do in the future. The feedback is authentic in this respect.

  5. Audio feedback is timely – The feedback is received while the learner is still interested, curious and driven by the work to which it refers. Timelines often refers to the speed with which it is returned, but audio feedback is also understood as timely because it is a rich asynchronous form which can be accessed and replayed at times that matter to the student such as during revision and in preparation for other tasks.

About audio feedback models

Audio feedback is highly flexible, being widely adopted and adapted to suit diverse requirements.

The idea of audio feedback model can be understood pedagogically, technically, as communicative media, and contextually, i.e. the versatility of the feedback design and delivery means it is adaptable to most learning and teaching situations.

  • Pedagogically, audio feedback is designed holistically as part of a learning, teaching and assessment strategy. Its design means that it should work with other techniques used to deliver the intended learning outcomes.
  • Technically, audio feedback is designed so that it is functional, working well for the producer and user, whether student or academic user. It should be straightforward to produce, deliver, access, play and manage.
  • Communicatively, it should be designed appropriately to convey the feedback on a given task effectively, for example, it may be used in combination with other feedback methods.
  • Contextually, the form of the feedback should be appropriate for the subject matter, the learning and teaching environment, the nature of the content being assessed, the future application of the feedback, and the capabilities of the people and systems involved in making, delivering and using the feedback.

Specific models can be found in the Voices of Innovators section.

When to use audio feedback

Generally speaking, audio feedback is best suited to situations in which the academic would like room to talk to the student or to show them (i.e. using screencast or video feedback) how to improve. It is less suited to situations in which written visual indicators (ticks, crosses, underlining, diagrams) need to be used to draw the student’s attention to details that require correction, but even here spoken reference can be made to annotations on scripts.

Hatziapostolou and Paraskikis (2010) suggest the basic technical matters of writing, (e.g. spelling, grammar and referencing conventions) can be understood as corrective micro forms of feedback. Usually, if these need to be addressed, written forms of feedback are likely to be better. They also identify ‘middle’ (student’s ability to
produce quality ideas and support them with evidence) and global (overall structure, academic argument and organisation) feedback requirements for which more detailed constructive forms of feedback are needed. Spoken feedback methods are better suited to these.

Return to the Audio Feedback Toolkit home page