“Plus-Delta Formative Feedback” for #fslt13 virtual conference on formative assessment

The assignment brief opens like this:

Title :A critical evaluation of an aspect of your teaching or assessment practice.

Task type:  A multimedia online exhibit which will be uploaded to the Virtual Conference wiki. You can use text, images, audio or video (and any combination of these) to present your exhibit.

Guidance:  For this assignment you need to critically evaluate a formative assessment or learning activity. You should draw on your experience of teaching as a teacher or, if you are preparing to teach, either an experience you have had as a learner or a planned activity.

I’ve been working to incorporate the Plus/Delta (what works, could work better) formative feedback practice across my “Teaching in Higher Education” course.  It’s a process that worked well in undergraduate courses I taught at different institutional types.  Also, based on student feedback as well as SoTL reading and conversation with peers it could become the formative feedback base for all course assignments.  In a course that requires students to simultaneously learn, experience and try out active learning principles and practices, having a robust and agile feedback framework seemed also to have the benefit of helping us to develop a common language.

What I’ve put together here is a section of a presentation I’ll develop with fall co-teacher as it seems possible – and wise – to bring together some recent past students this summer to respond to and think through proposed changes with us.  A couple of short presentations could give students from different sections a common view – so this one is likely to become 20 minutes via adding info/images/discussion of 3 sample uses – one common across the past few years, two that extend the model in new ways to ongoing assignments.

Reading FeedbackThe Plus-Delta – what works? what could work better? – blends what I learned in seeking / offering feedback as a college journalist then in teaching writing-enriched humanities and social science courses.  It seemed always right to make use of this framework for low to high stakes writing, and to apply the strategy to offering feedback whatever the students and I were “reading” – images, screens, exhibits, demonstrations, performance, and teaching.  It also made sense to me to listen to students – in my undergrad general education courses and in the graduate course for future faculty – consistently express distrust to dislike to discomfort regarding “assessment” as being about replying rather than evaluating.  If that’s what it’s about, they’d say in pushing back, then call it something else.  And, so it is: this framework is about replying to what we “read.”  So, responding rather than assessing it is – especially since the grading part is simply that students to it; granted, I do expect they do respond with integrity, honesty, openness and a sense of possibility.

So, I’ve posted here version with sound – it’s about 8 minues.  Of course, with images plus sound, it’s likely best to download with a good fast connection.  I’ll be happy when the Camtasia software arrives.  Click on either of the images or link at the end of the post.


Ida virtual conference sound

Ida Formative Assessment HO



  1. Who needs Camtasia? I’ve never seen an audio slide show done so well. Really attractive slide design. Love the pix of Dr. Martin!

    I definitely think I’ll give the Plus-Delta a try. I used a variation on Ron Berger’s Public Critique strategy last semester and like the specificity — and kindness. I learned about it from this teacher’s blog — http://taitcoles.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/public-critique/

    Thanks so much for sharing this practice. Oh, did you mention that the former student now teaching in Canada was doing something interesting with design feedback?

    • Thanks for kind words – I’m thinking that with Camtasia I could make smaller files and get some screen capture ideas done without having to do screen shots along the way… It’s good to be able to harness images for teaching from the return to being a more active photographer.

      So, the person I got to work with when she was a composition TA is Sidneyeve Matrix now of Queen’s University, and some great open access work on social media, pop culture, design. Within her courses students complete a “designer statement” with course assignments. Easiest way to find the examples is via web browser search using her name + designer statements. I’m happy to share the version we crafted when I move the templates into shareable space.

      Looking forward to checking out the Berger link – love the combo of specificity and kindness. My upcoming co-teacher is good at reminding us to speak about appreciations and gifts when noting what we (teachers and peers alike) gain from being part of responding and presenting.

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