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Interventions in teaching first-year law: Feeding forward to improve learning outcomes

Walker, S. and Hobson, J. (2014) Interventions in teaching first-year law: Feeding forward to improve learning outcomes. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 39 (3). pp. 326-338.

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Aligned assessment is a cornerstone of higher education curriculum design. Yet, it does not address the problem of how students learn how they should proceed when faced with a new assessment task. That teaching task is often left to the role of ‘feedback’. This article examines changes to a first year law unit, introduced following negative student feedback about an assessment task. The feedback made apparent a lack of alignment between staff and student expectations as to what was being assessed and how it was being assessed. The article considers formative assessment through a feed-forward model, and relates this to the design and process of the intervention. The teaching method of the feed-forward model is detailed. The analysis of the results shows that a number of key misperceptions were held by students as to the points of difficulty in the assignment. A significant number of students also found it extremely difficult to judge the quality of past assignments against a marking guide. This direct feeding forward allowed some of the students’ tacit and false assumptions to emerge and be addressed, before they began their first major assessment, resulting in improved pass rates for the assessment.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: Student Learning Centre
School of Law
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Copyright: 2013 Taylor & Francis
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