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Feedback vivas

By Steve Draper,   Department of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

Passport photo The idea and practice of feedback vivas are due to Benjamin Franks. They give significant course credit to students to participating; but they succeed in getting students to engage with feedback on their work, and in dialogue about it.

Tutors frequently complain that written feedback is not being followed by students. This leads to frustration on the part of markers, and failure to improve performance by students. The short feedback viva was devised in response. It is a 10-minute formally assessed viva with a student discussing their written feedback from their previously submitted assignment. The written feedback on the essay is provided several days in advance (usually over a week) by the academics.

They have two teachers in with the one student for this 10 minute viva (important in terms of objectivity etc.). From the staff-time point of view they dropped one of the essays from the course to make room for this, and the effect is slightly less overall marking time (assuming a level 2 essay takes about 40 mins to mark). Most arts-based main campus courses only have one essay, so this could be harder to (economically) justify. However, on courses where it is used perhaps the exam course be removed (or shortened)? More radically, perhaps more resources should be directed to this kind of assessment.

The feedback (gathered by an independent evaluator) from students and staff is strongly positive.

The Feedback Viva is so far only used on the course Issues in Contemporary Society.


The feedback viva has these feedback-related educational goals:
  1. to ensure that students read the comments;
  2. to assist them in identifying strengths and weakness in their work;
  3. to enable the application of the advice to the marked assignment and to future academic work;
  4. to allow the students to reflect on the skills learnt on this course and their wider applicability.
  5. to provide an opportunity for the student to respond to the comments and highlight areas of ambiguity or disagreement with the assessment, thereby encouraging constructive dialogue for both students and academics.

Additionally, I believe it serves other educational goals about:

  1. prompting reflection
  2. engaging students in the course and its work
  3. giving them a sense that the staff care about them and their work: see my notion of "teacher monitoring".

The questions in the feedback viva are:


See a report on this by Franks & Hanscomb on the HEA website. They have given a talk on this, for which slides may be available, as session 6A at the GU Learning and Teaching Conference.

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