Formative conversations: developing dialogic exchanges around student feedback


  • Charlie Smith Liverpool John Moores University, Faculty of Arts, Professional & Social Studies



There has been considerable energy invested in the move from transmission-based teaching toward more active, participative methods. However, whilst research on feedback has proposed similar moves toward dialogic methods with agentic student participation, arguably there has been less uptake of such methods in feedback practice. This presentation will discuss one approach to dialogic feedback – the design review. Commonly used throughout design education, the approach is also very comparable to verbal feedback on student presentations used in other disciplines. In theory, providing verbal feedback on students’ presentations in class aligns well with what Winstone and Carless (2020) describe as ‘learning-focused models of the feedback process’ (p. 2). It creates opportunity for students to elicit feedback, share meanings and clarify misunderstandings, and generate internal feedback through comparison with their peers. As such, there is considerable opportunity to enhance the student experience of their feedback. However, the design review has faced criticism, including the power asymmetry between students and teachers, and fostering an intimidating environment.

This session will present initial findings from a study investigating dialogic feedback exchanges occurring during student presentations. The objective is to understand the nature of the interactions taking place, and the extent to which they effectively support student agency within the feedback process. The findings reveal that the feedback exchanges adopted a strong dialogic nature during the early stages; however, in the latter part of sessions feedback gravitated toward a more transmissive mode. These findings provide opportunity to apply and refine verbal exchanges in feedback practice, deepen students’ agentic participation in feedback approaches, and strengthen their contribution to their learning. Although studying feedback exchanges in an architecture programme, given the similarities to verbal feedback on student presentations used across other disciplines, the presentation will contribute to wider feedback practice and the development of dialogic feedback methods.

Winstone, N., and D. Carless. 2020. "Designing Effective Feedback Practices in Higher Education: A Learning-Focused Approach". Abingdon: Routledge.

Formative conversations: developing dialogic exchanges around student feedback, PowerPoint. Only LJMU staff and students have access to this resource.