Stephen Nutbrown Colin Higgins Su Beesley


This paper examines the impact of a novel assessment technique that has been used to improve the feedback given to second year Computer Science students at the University of Nottingham. Criteria for effective, high quality feedback are discussed. An automated marking system (The Marker’s Apprentice - TMA) produces instant feedback in synergy with the highlighted best practises. This paper investigates improvements in the work submitted by students after receiving this type of feedback. It draws upon surveys, as well as comparisons to previous cohorts for validating the positive impact of these techniques. It was found that the cohort (141 students) made 35% fewer common mistakes on a subsequent exercise than the previous cohort. 100% of students surveyed (35) claimed to have read the feedback, and 91% agreed it clearly identified areas for improvement. 68% agreed the feedback is useful for their learning, which is backed up by the improvements seen on the last exercise. Supported by these results, this paper concludes that following feedback best practises can have a substantial impact on learning, and that automated assessment can play a key role in providing this instant, high quality feedback. The results and similar techniques can be applied to other disciplines.