Fast and effective feedback: are model answers the answer?

December 2007

Source: Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, Vol. 32, Iss. 6;  Dec 2007, pg. 601.

Feedback to students is essential for effective learning, but there is little empirical information on what kind of feedback is best. This study compares student responses and performance after receiving two types of feedback, that provided by model answers and that provided by personal comments.

In 2004 and 2005, a total of 183 students in first and honours years biology courses were provided with both types of feedback, and their perceptions and preferences were explored using a questionnaire.

The examination marks of 155 students were analysed, comparing scores in questions relating to personal and model feedback given earlier in the course. Questionnaire results showed that a majority of students wanted both kinds of feedback, but that there was a preference for personal over model feedback.

However, there were highly significant differences between the mean marks achieved in examinations, with students performing better in model answer questions in both 2004 and 2005. These results suggest that the best approach might be a hybrid one, drawing on the strengths of both kinds of feedback.

Updated: Jan. 15, 2008