Feedback is only as good as...

A quick recap - this research project is looking at feedback.  For the research questions check this page (The MA Project).  I have been examining student perception of the feedback project and in particular different elements of feedback.  This aspect of the project involves two groups of students. 

A brief study of the quantitative and qualitative research thus far is giving me some idea of the problems students face when giving and receiving feedback.  Their thoughts and their perception about the whole process are very interesting and although my studies thus far are not conclusive (when are they ever?) I am able to reach some conclusions that I find interesting even if they cannot be considered statistically significant.  

Whilst 48% of those questioned found that peer feedback enabled them to improve the content of their essays compared to 24% who disagreed, it is interesting to note that the majority of affirmative responses came from the less able of the two sets.  Put simply the linguistically more able group were more aware of their peers' limited language proficiency and thus felt that they were given less information in order to improve the content of their redrafts.  
"I did not make progress as the feedback was often incorrect"
"The people marking us were a lower level and the corrections weren't always correct which was confusing."
Such comments were not rare and were not restricted to those top set students.  Those students in the second set giving feedback were well aware of their own limitations.

"I don't like it as you don't know a lot of French."
"I found it hard to give feedback if I didn`t know how to correct it." 
Thus, linguistic ability of a student is very important and students need scaffolding if they are to be successful in giving feedback.  Students need to trust each other and have faith both in themselves and in the feedback that is being given to them.  Such scaffolding will impact not only their ability to give feedback but also in how to make use of the feedback they have received. 

This difference between the two classes in their perception of the usefulness of student feedback is noticeable in other areas too.  However, this is a discussion for another day...