Today I finished the corrections for my PhD. I’ve spent the last 6 months in agony since the disastrous viva. I avoided the corrections for about a month and half, and then the pressures of a fulltime job got the better of me and I lost the motivation to work on it. When I went to California for Christmas, I spent three weeks writing like mad and managed to get quite a bit of the rewrite done. I was feeling pretty good about myself. That slowed and then halted when I came back to Scotland, partly because I was back to work, and partly because I came back to Scotland feeling like I hadn’t actually had a vacation.
I’ve spent the last month fighting a battle between work, fatigue and these stupid chapters. The last couple of weeks has been me staying up late, ignoring my work commitments and completely isolating myself to get it done.
But I am finally done. I think this is a better piece of work. It was the thesis that I wanted to write 5 years ago. It is something that I am proud to have my name on. I will submit tomorrow and hope and pray that the examiners have a heart and accept the corrections. I literally have no way of knowing if they will. If they don’t, I am not sure what I will do. At the moment though, I am way too tired to think about it. I’m also behind in my work. I was meant to be taking some days off starting tomorrow, but I think I am going to have to cancel the time off so that I can attempt to catch up. To be honest, I can’t travel, so I would be working on the marking and all the work that has piled up, so I might as well get paid for it.
The annual leave can wait until I can sit on the beach again.
Here are the dedication, acknowledgment and the abstract in case anyone is curious about what the work is all about and the people that really helped me through.
This thesis is dedicated to all the graduate students who lost their lives, in part, or as a consequence of pursuing a PhD.
You deserved the opportunity to write your own thesis.
May you always be remembered as part of mine
This thesis has been a labour of love (and sometimes loathing), and there are several people that deserve much more than a few lines at the start of this work.
- Tansy Jessop for having lunch with me at the 2015 Assessment and Higher Education conference and making sure that my TESTA journey was a successful one.
- David Carless for helping me refine the recommendations and pointing me in the direction of a strong definition of feedback.
- David Nicol for saying to me, ‘You should be critiquing my model! It worked in the time it was written, but it is time for something new’. You will never know how much that bolstered my self-confidence.
- Joan McLatchie, Velda McCune and Mark Huxham – thanks for taking a chance on a cat loving Californian.
- The Llama Ladies- You are the best friends a girl could ask for.
- Errol Rivera- You talked me off many a ledge and helped me outline many a draft chapter. I’m forever grateful.
- Joe Ameen- A million thanks for the chats and life advice.
- Dr Ana Georgieva- You kept me sane and reminded me to be kind to myself.
- Martha Caddell- You are the best mentor a girl could ever want. I hope I’m half as great as you one day.
- Anne Tierney-Because everything’s better with puppets!
- Kelsey Austin- My travel buddy, my heterolifemate, my unwavering support. I love you and our many adventures.
- Declan- you know why.
- Mondo, Brandon, Jackson, and Matt- I love you.
- Wombmate-You gave me nephews, you listened to me cry and you never let me forget that I am better than my anxiety.
- My parents, Rick and Michelle- I’ll never be able to pay back what you’ve given me. Thank you for never squashing my wanderlust and for all the support. I love you to the moon and back.
In designing sustainable feedback practices, it is crucial to consider the kinds of learning that higher education is intended to cultivate. This research study investigates how a programme-focused approach to curriculum design affected a students’ feedback literacy. This research stems from the growing focus on feedback literacy and what that implies for student engagement with feedback as a learning tool (Carless & Boud, 2018; Molloy et al, 2019; Han & Xu, 2019). While the current research focuses on feedback literacy at the student or individual module level, this study investigates what features of a programme can help, or hinder, a student’s feedback literacy journey. In this context, feedback literacy will be defined according to Carless and Boud (2018, p.1316) as:
the understandings, capacities and dispositions needed to make sense of information and use it to enhance work or learning strategies.
Based on a review of the literature on feedback and feedback literacy, a survey was distributed to students across five programmes at Edinburgh Napier University. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with the programme leaders as well as module leaders, and follow-up focus groups were conducted with the students who participated in the survey. Analysis of the findings found that there were five programme characteristics that factored into a student’s engagement with feedback literacy. They are:
- Staff attitudes to feedback
- Whether there is a programme-focused approach
- Students’ role in feedback
- Whether there is a sustained approach to feedback
- Institutional acceptance of the challenges of developing a sustained approach to feedback
On this basis, it is recommended that not only do programmes consider a programme-focused approach to assessment and feedback, but that in order to help further the development of the students’ feedback literacy, staff must first be feedback literate themselves. Further research is needed to identify whether a shift in programme structure has an overall impact on student engagement with feedback and leads to the development of a stronger feedback literacy.