Context: There is little research into how to deliver summative assessment student feedback effectively. The main aims of this study were to clarify how students engage with feedback in this context and to explore the roles of learning-related characteristics and previous and current performance.
Methods: A website was developed to deliver feedback about the objective structural clinical examination (OSCE) in various formats: station by station or on skills across stations. In total, 138 students (in the third year out of five) completed a questionnaire about goal orientation, motivation, self-efficacy, control of learning beliefs and attitudes to feedback. Individual website usage was analysed over an 8-week period. Latent class analyses were used to identify profiles of students, based on their use of different aspects of the feedback website. Differences in learning-related student characteristics between profiles were assessed using analyses of variance (anovas). Individual website usage was related to OSCE performance.
Results: In total, 132 students (95.7%) viewed the website. The number of pages viewed ranged from two to 377 (median 102). Fifty per cent of students engaged comprehensively with the feedback, 27% used it in a minimal manner, whereas a further 23% used it in a more selective way. Students who were comprehensive users of the website scored higher on the value of feedback scale, whereas students who were minimal users scored higher on extrinsic motivation. Higher performing students viewed significantly more web pages showing comparisons with peers than weaker students did. Students who just passed the assessment made least use of the feedback.
Conclusions: Higher performing students appeared to use the feedback more for positive affirmation than for diagnostic information. Those arguably most in need engaged least. We need to construct feedback after summative assessment in a way that will more effectively engage those students who need the most help.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.