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Experiences of using Audio Feedback in Engineering Mathematics Modules.

Durkacz, Kate; Mowat, Elaine


Kate Durkacz

Elaine Mowat


The main purpose of the Engineering Mathematics modules at Edinburgh Napier University is to explain the underpinning mathematical techniques, in areas such as calculus, series and vectors, which are required by the engineering modules. These modules, which might be described as methods modules, are assessed by class test and final examination. Marking this type of work has always resulted in written mathematical feedback for questions, with indications of errors or better ways of solving the question being detailed throughout the script. In addition, for the past four years, audio feedback has been provided. This paper summarises the authors' experience of giving audio feedback during this period, and also the response from the various student cohorts. Audio feedback continues to be provided for students studying engineering mathematics modules at Edinburgh Napier University, and the authors continue to investigate its impact.

Using audio files to give formative feedback to students is a developing area. The use of audio files to give formative feedback to students on their draft assignment submission has been explored by Brearley and Cullen (Brearley and Cullen, 2012). They offered this feedback to a class of 40 students and had 25 students utilising it. The students valued the feedback, but some would have preferred it to have been written. Various other Higher Education institutions have been exploring audio feedback. For example, Leeds Metropolitan University had a project entitled ``Sounds good'' which investigated whether digital audio could be used to give students quicker and better feedback on their work (Rotheram, 2009). Findings were that the students were “overwhelmingly positive'' about receiving audio feedback and liked both the personal nature and the detail provided. Ekinsmyth (Ekinsmyth, 2010) and colleagues from the geography department at the University of Portsmouth experimented with digital audio assessment feedback and found that students felt hearing feedback was more effective and memorable than reading it. Conversely, McGregor (McGregor et al, 2011) experimented with audio feedback on a group of students studying Business Management and found that although the students liked receiving the voice mails and listened to them more than once, there was no discernible effect on their performance in the assessment.

Giving summary feedback on maths tests as individual audio files was first investigated at Edinburgh Napier University in September 2010 (Durkacz and Mowat, 2012). This work demonstrated that the students find it useful to have both detailed feedback throughout their script and an overall summary of their performance as an audio file. It is clear that the audio feedback has a powerful impact due to it
being vocalised, personal and private. The indication from the students is that this makes it more memorable.

Conference Name Barriers and Enablers to Learning Maths: Enhancing Learning and Teaching for All Learners
Start Date Jun 10, 2015
End Date Jun 12, 2015
Publication Date 2015-06
Deposit Date Jun 1, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jun 30, 2015
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Engineering students; student feedback methods; audio feedback; methods modules; audio files;
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Jun 1, 2015


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