Leveraging technology for effective Assessment feedback (part 2): How did I do I.T.?

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In part one↗️ of this two-part blog post, Avita Rath discussed the importance of feedback practices and how technological tools have leveraged those practices in the post-digital era. In this second post, Avita offers concrete examples of how she applied digital tools in her teaching practice. Dr Avita Rath is a year 3 distance learning student (MSc Clinical Education↗️) at Edinburgh Medical School.


I designed a formative peer feedback activity for year 3 undergraduate dental students around a few periodontics topics using Padlet; an interactive, collaborative learning platform. It is an online virtual wall/ pinboard where various forms of multimedia can be posted, such as Word docs, videos, photos, web links, audio, and images. I adopted a collaborative learning approach described by Dillenbourg (1999), which is premised on a socio-constructivist perspective that learning is a socially constructed phenomenon (Vygotsky et al., 1978). Two weeks prior, students were informed about the activity’s design on our Blackboard learning management system. It included a short video on how to use Padlet, discussion prompts, ‘compare and discuss’ exercises were also included to guide students around the activity (Figure 1).

Why Padlet?!

This might sound absurd but being an introverted millennial who still loves to stop by faculty’s bulletin boards every now and then, I have always found it fascinating, engaging, and liberating to some extent. Padlet, to me, is synonymous with a virtual version of this board that allows express, share and even reflect on other posts without needing to be there. On a more empirical note, researchers have explored its potential in creating a virtual hangout place where real-time interactions, a phenomenon that Chad Ostrowski (2018) likened to ‘parking lot’ conversations around shared work, thanks to its collaborative interface. Moreover, the flexibility of this interface allows synchronous/asynchronous interactions at students’ own convenience, affording learners with adequate opportunities to comprehend and negotiate meanings. In fact, it  has a built-in chat feature and emotive add-ins to bolster such interactions (Sari, 2019). Its user friendly, compatibility and intuitiveness with a wide range of devices and operating systems (Rombough, 2022) meet the key determinants of the Technology Acceptance Model (Davis, 1989) . But most importantly, it is inclusive as it allows anonymity by not mandating signing in, which initiates quicker, authentic interactions, and increased participation, evading evaluation anxiety and judgements (Rebello, 2021).

Figure 1: Padlet-based Peer feedback activity by year 3 dental undergraduate students

My observations:

As mentioned in my earlier blog post↗️, I mapped the dialogic co-construction of sense-making among participants with Nicole and MacFarlane’s (2006) good feedback principles (figure 2) and here is what I found…

Figure 2: Padlet-based formative feedback practices through the lens of Nicol and MacFarlane’s feedback principles (P1-7)


My key learning: 

At the end of one week, emerged a collaborative collage where I summarised my thoughts, and students felt they could understand them better due to this practice, which in itself is a crucial step to close the feedback loop and congeal shared understanding of the topics discussed (Nicol, 2021). However, based on this experience and my own learning journey so far with Clinical education, it has come to my attention that to develop an effective culture of feedback practices, one must consider the pedagogical underpinnings accompanying it.

As Philip Dawson (2018: 30) contends “feedback is only feedback where it leads to change, and for that change to manifest, learners need to attend to and make sense of the information and the quality of work by interacting with peers, teachers and relevant resources. Having said that, one must be cognizant that technologies can only be beneficial if these practices already exist by affording multi-dimensionality to these interactions. Leveraging the temporal-spatiality and the relational elements through digital spaces (Payne et al., 2022) is all they can offer. I am not being obtuse here, I am well aware of the seismic effect of ChatGPT/ and artificial intelligence in education↗️, which has shaken up scholars and has set social media platforms on fire. Nonetheless, I earnestly believe that what matters, in the end, is what we make of technology, which relies on the tenets of good teaching practices and one’s academic literacy. The overwhelmingly positive response to this formative assessment was a glimpse into technology working to our advantage. It lays down the groundwork for future use in my context, although I wish to see this extended to summative assessments as well; after all, assessments should be meant for learning, rightbut this accounts for another blog post!


picture of editor/producerAvita Rath

Dr Avita Rath is a year 3 distance learning student (MSc Clinical Education↗️) at Edinburgh Medical School, The University of Edinburgh. She is also a senior lecturer, academic coordinator and periodontist at the Faculty of Dentistry, SEGi University, Malaysia. She is a Common Wealth scholar, a Fellow in Advance Higher Education, UK (FHEA), and an Association of Medication Education in Europe (AMEE) member. Some of her research interests include equity, diversity and inclusivity issues in health professional education, mindfulness in dental education, and student engagement concepts. She would like to thank Kirstin Stuart James for her guidance in writing this blog and encouragement throughout the programme and especially during the ‘Teaching Online in Professional Context’ course.

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