Higher Education

Charting Ethical Pathways in Education: Dialogical Feedback for Sustainable & Compassionate Practices

Discover feedback as a tool to deepen educator-student bonds, transforming assessment into a nurturing relationship opportunity

This session invites educators to reconsider feedback not just as a method of assessment, but as a profound opportunity to cultivate caring, sustainable, and ethically grounded educational practices.

We’ll discuss the importance of weaving together the ontological, technical, and epistemic dimensions to foster educational professionalism that is both reflective and effective. We’ll explore how, if dialogue is a framework of feedback, it may enhance more ethical assessment practices. 

Drawing on examples from three teacher education modules, we’ll showcase how dialogical feedback has deepened and personalized educator-student relationships, facilitating a space where meaningful exchange can flourish and democratize the assessment process.




Justin Rami, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Dublin City University, Ireland

Justin Rami is an Associate Professor in the School Policy & Practice, Faculty of Education at Dublin City University, Ireland. At the undergraduate level, he teaches in the areas of Teaching & Learning Methodologies, Advanced Teaching & Learning Strategies, Curriculum,  Assessment & Feedback, Teaching Preparation and Developing a Research Perspective. Added to these modules Justin also delivers lectures and workshops on using Critical Voices in academic writing. At postgraduate level, he teaches in the area of Organisational Behaviour and Organisational Communications. Justin coordinates the Professional Management Skills area of the MSc in Education & Training (Leadership Strand), which covers areas such as Intercultural competence, Lean Six Sigma, Positive Psychology, Talent management, Coaching, Reflective practice and Communication and Perception. Justin is a graduate of the International University Leadership Management Programme (ULM) and is the former Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning in the Institute of Education, DCU. Dr Rami is also the Director of the Further Education & Training Research Centre (FETRC) in DCUs Institute of Education and his research focuses on further, vocational and adult education.

Dr Francesca Lorenzi, Lecturer and Researcher, DCU Institute of Education

Dr Francesca Lorenzi holds a position as a lecturer and researcher within the School of Policy and Practice at the DCU Institute of Education. Concurrently, Dr. Lorenzi is a member of the Further Education and Training and Research Centre (FETRC) and the recently established DCU Centre for Possibility Studies. Her lecturing duties predominantly center on the Philosophy of Education domain, adult education theory and practice and Intercultural educational theory and practice. Dr. Lorenzi’s scholarly pursuits are geared towards forging robust connections between educational theory and practical application, with the overarching goal of enhancing the professional development of practitioners. Her extensive portfolio spans two decades, during which her teaching and research endeavors have revolved around three principal thematic areas: fostering democratization within educational frameworks through dialogical approaches, cultivating creativity within pedagogical practices, and advocating for assessment methodologies that promote reflective and ethical practices, particularly within the context of teacher education.


Francesca Lorenzi:

Hello, my name is Francesca Lorenzi and I’m here with my colleague, Dr. Justin Rami. And we will give a presentation on a particular topic that has been at the very core of our research for the past 10, 12 years. We’ve worked together for this period of time on dialogical feedback and specifically and on formative assessment practice. And our focus over the years has moved a little bit from really considering the dynamics of dialogical feedback, the mechanics and the procedure to more recent times where we started really to look at the effect of dialogical feedback on the relationship between teachers and students. And on this presentation we will be specifically looking at the effect of dialogical feedback and how this can be maintained in terms of sustainable and compassionate practice. Just a little bit about ourselves, I’m Francesca Lorenzi, and together with Justin we both work as teacher educator in terms of education. A different level in the Institute of Education in Dublin City University in Ireland. And we have different backgrounds, but really in terms of our research focus really this element really of research on assessment has brought us together.

My own specific focus being more so also on creativity in education, dialogue in education, and also democratic practices in education. Along with also a specific focus on further education. Justin, perhaps you want to say something a little bit about yourself?

Justin Rami:

Thanks Francesca, and thanks again for inviting us to your conference this week. As Francesca said, we both work in Dublin City University in Ireland. We’re both mainly involved in teacher education, so a lot of our work would be dealing directly with student teachers in the vocational adult education as well as the post-primary and primary education sectors. A lot of our research in the past has focused particularly on assessment at the beginning of our research, maybe 15 years ago that Francesca and I have been doing. We’ve progressed that on to look at the concept of feedback integrating into research on assessment and move to this point about dialogical feedback where we actually gave a presentation last year at the reaction conference. We’ve moved this slightly forward and Francesca will go over the details of the presentation in a moment. We’ve moved this forward into looking more about how we work with students themselves and what that actually means being a teacher and what it means and that relationship between the teacher and the teacher educator too. Without further ado, I’ll pass it back to Francesca and we can start the presentation.

Francesca Lorenzi:

Okay. Given that now we set the scene, we’d like you to have a sense of what the presentation will be more specifically about. We have identified a specific issue that we wanted to address with this presentation. We will look at professionalism and how it intersects with the focus of our presentation. And then we’ll give a little bit more detail on what is dialogical feedback and what concepts underpin dialogical feedback. In particular, two concepts are at the core. One is the concept of care and we refer to the ethics of care to expand a little bit on this. And also, the concept of dialogue beyond really the obvious and the common language understanding of dialogue. After this we will present some examples from our professional practice teaching and teacher education programs. And we will explore the outcome really of an evaluation of different models that we utilize, which stem from the same conceptualization, but really were applied separately to different models by myself and Justin.

And then we would look at the difficulties and the challenges that we experienced in implementing this particular type of approach. And we also evaluated also the benefits and really the added value that this particular approach gives in terms of building relationship with the students. And in some ways really helping our students really to role model and by having experienced themselves the value of dialogical feedback.

And finally, we will give you some example of how we combine the insights that we derive from the implementation in different modules to develop a module where the joint really effort is really put to practice to generate a module that embeds dialogical feedback and that we both delivered jointly.

Really to progress through the presentation, what is the issue that we really wanted to address with our presentation and with this piece of research? Assessment in general is lived by the student as something that we do to them. It’s something that is quite disempowering, because it is a one-sided activity in many ways where the teacher holds really control over the direction of the assessment. And even with feedback sometimes, particularly if feedback is given at the end of a learning process. While obviously if it’s done well, it might have some element of transferability to other element of the learning experience. Sometimes it just comes too late and it still really doesn’t give an opportunity to students really to be active participants in the assessment process. It’s the teacher really telling what went wrong, and yes, there might be an element of fit forward where we try to give advice to our students in terms of how they could do things differently next time. But it’s still the teacher ultimately telling the students. And the student tend to be the recipient, but a passive recipient or as a recipient that doesn’t necessarily have a voice.

And we felt that that kind of was a missed opportunity. And also because of the not really having a sense of what the student feels and how the students really kind of experience assessment often assessment remains very much an anxiety-inducing process where really having this kind of sense of not being able to control in any form or shape the process really kind of makes the student feel that they are just really at the receiving end, but nothing else.

If we want to harness this particular process as an opportunity, not only for learning but also to build a relationship with our students, then something needs to change. Something needs to have more of a two-way kind of process whereby the students have a voice, the student can participate actively, and the student can really get a sense that they can do something about their learning actively.

In terms of this particular practice may sound really like a good idea. Well, dialogical feedback, it’s a process that is a two-way process where the student gain a voice. But how is it done and to what extent is actually really possible? And of course, that was a concern that we had very much in mind, because we were as busy teacher-educators we deal with big classes and we have very tight schedules. And we really need to consider how we can make it manageable. And I suppose two quotes really inform our thinking, one from Futernick who mentioned that this kind of a caring approach to building a relationship with the students where sometimes we really spend time and effort really trying to think of the needs of our student and how to meet them can be at times really time-consuming. So, we need really to think in terms of sustainable practices.

And I quote from my earlier work in terms of dialogical feedback. And the infusion of care or very much care intended as a disposition towards our student, towards the well-being of our student, but also the welfare and the learning progression of our student needs to be tampered with professional judgment which consider acceptable compromises without diminishing the quality. What needs to be done is achieving some kind of result while trying to make it sustainable and viable in the long term, but at the same time trying to benefit our student. And ultimately that’s what we had in mind when we’re devising this particular process. We’re thinking of teachers, and as we are teacher educator we’re thinking in terms of professionalism and the various dimension of professionalism. Here we’re quoting from Gloria Dall’Alba who identify those particular dimension in terms of teacher professionalism. And as I mentioned previously, we’re trying to role model good practice as we are working also with teacher educators who one day obviously will be in the classroom, and we hope that this will transfer also to their own professional practice.

As a professional in the field of education there are different forms of knowledge that we need to possess. One, it’s a technical knowledge, a skill, a procedural knowledge. Another one is a more declarative kind of element or epistemic dimension of knowledge, that kind of content knowledge or declarative knowledge as the philosopher Gilbert Ryle with the fingers. And then there is another dimension which is the ontological. And the ontological encompasses an element of identity of the educator. Who we are, who we want to be as educators. And we feel it’s important to emphasize, this is not necessarily emphasized sufficiently probably in the article by Gloria Dall’Alba, that there is a strong ethical dimension that really considers how we can think of the well-being of our students, the welfare, but also the progression of our students. That kind of concern for our students is what we wanted to emphasize in this particular presentation and in the process that we devised.

How dialogue comes into it. We said, okay, well, given a voice to the student, it’s part of what we are trying to do with their logical feedback. But what is dialogue? And if we go beyond the common language understanding, which tends to equate dialogue to a conversation, we think of more the etymological meaning of the term dialogue. Because it actually illuminates a deeper understanding of dialogue is. Dialogue comes from a Greek word, dia logos. The prefix dia has multiple meanings, but I think two are particularly interesting for our purposes. One is the meaning of dia as true, a little bit like in the word diaphanous. Where we can think of a diaphanous glass for instance. It’s a glass where we can see through the light but we can’t actually see outside. And also, another meaning is that of two, of multiple stakeholders or multiple entities interacting.

And the other term that composes the word dialogue is logos. Logos means to think or communicate, but also to think combined with the prefix dia thinking with others, reasoning with others or reasoning through others I should say. The idea that with other people, and in this case with students we can think better, we can understand each other better, but we can also think better. And we want our student to think better and not really just to take a passive approach, but to engage their critical ability while interacting with us in dialogical feedback. And as we said, care comes into our discussion, because as we said, the main issue we wanted to address was to achieve a more equalitarian kind of relationship with our students through feedback by giving a voice to our students.

And you’ll be probably all very familiar with Nel Noddings and we felt that our ethics or care really underpins very strongly our own practice. And in particular she refers to dialogue herself. And with our conceptualization of dialogue she refers to very much kind of attributing the best motives to our student. And sometimes their difficulties are genuine difficulties. And before we jump to conclusion, we need really to engage with the students in order to really get a better picture of where they’re at and what they need from us. And we can’t really just think of the intellectual development of our students. We need really to think of how this will benefit them as persons. And with dialogical feedback that’s exactly what we do. We’re not really trying to produce monsters as in this particular quote by Nel Noddings. We are trying to develop around the human beings that have really certainly advancement in their knowledge through their module or their assessment. But also they become better thinker and they become more in tune with other human beings.

And also, we refer to another theorist that has written quite extensively about dialogical feedback, and this is David Careless. David Careless has focused primarily on the process of establishing dialogical feedback loops, and the negotiation of meaning has been an element that has been at the core of the process as it describes it. But it also refers to building trust in relationship with students. Which again, it’s an important aspect of the care elements really of the infusion in feedback as we propose in this particular presentation.

If we look at the dialogical approach, there are certain elements that we consider to be core to this particular approach. First of all, as we said, it’s a process and it’s a process that has some element of fluidity in that. Because being a dialogue there is some kind of to and fro between the teacher and the student. The student can really ask question, the student can comment, the student can sometimes challenge the feedback. That is another that certainly we need to consider while engaging in this particular process. But what is fundamental is that we come to a shared understanding that we might not have at the beginning of the process itself. Sometimes we might make assumptions about students, we might label students. When we actually encounter the students and when we engage with the students, we might get a different picture. And from their part they might get a better understanding of the assessment criteria or the expectation that we might have as assessor.

This is beneficial and it goes really both ways really for the assessor in terms of understanding the student needs and for the students in terms of understanding assessment criteria and expectation from the teacher’s part. And because of this, because of two-way engagement we really refer to a reciprocal commitment. And as you can see, there’s a number of sources that we use to extract those concepts as underpinning our own theorisation of dialogical feedback with a strong dialogical but also an ethical dimension. And if we look at an extended version of this principle, which really stand from the literature in the previous slide. But it’s a little bit more expanded here. As we said, the process orientation, but also this idea that we engage in responsive teaching. What is responsive teaching? Responsive teaching is really teaching that is tailored to the needs of our students. And we are very much engaging in a mutual process of listening and responding. And the respondent is not just done by the student or not just done by the teacher. There is an interchangeability of roles between teacher students to some extent in this particular type of activity.

And also, as the student and teacher engage in a process of clarification of assessment criteria and assessment expectation, there is a greater fairness and transparency that is really achieved through the process. Also, another kind of element that I think it’s important is where we can engage in a process of ostentative demonstration with our student. What does that mean in other words? It means really that we are able to exemplify, provide really ideas for our student. Examples where if sometimes really with written feedback we might really give indication, we might not necessarily have the time really to provide examples or really react to points made by the students. But this is possible really with dialogical feedback.

As part of this presentation I mentioned really we’re going to discuss some specific examples of practice. And I will start with my own practice. I teach primarily in the field of philosophy of education. And I utilized this particular approach particularly with my philosophy of education module. Delivered to post-primary teachers, in one particular case I have 140 students who study for the professional master of education. These are students who will be qualified to teach at post-primary level in a range of subject domains.

And then I have another group of 68 students who study for a Bachelor of Science education and physical education with biology or maths. Again, these are undergraduate students who will be fully qualified after a four-year undergraduate program to teach either science education or physical education with maths or biology. I chose this particular modules because I find the students often struggle with A, the format of philosophy assessments. And B, with the content, and sometimes really struggle also with the requirement of the task. And I felt this was a good opportunity for me really to try to help my students really to perform well. But also to show them that I really wanted for them really to see assessment as an opportunity to learn. And that really to engage with a subject that not necessarily they would have chosen to study but they might appreciate prior to this process.

And what I normally do, I scaffold as a preparation throughout the module. We will do quite a lot of preparation exercises throughout the module, so that they start really to build some competence towards the final submission. But even at that point when they get to the final submission, I feel they still have a lot of anxiety about the subject and also about the format. I feel despite all the exercises they always seem to really arrive to that kind of end point where really a lot of concern about being able to do it and knowing how to do it. What I introduced in the past few years was what I call the bullet point essay draft, which is submitted in advance of the final submission. And the bullet point draft is simply one page where I asked them really to just build a sort of flow chart of what they intend to discuss in their essay. And really to present the information in few bullet points to give me an indication of A, what they plan to discuss, and B, what is their thinking around the topic?

And once they’ve submitted this I engage in a process whereby I write down few comments on the draft, I send it back to the students and then that is followed by a Zoom meeting where [inaudible 00:25:22] the more dialogical element happens. The student had the opportunity to read through my comments and I show you actually in the next one, there’ll be really some example of one of the bullet point draft where they really kind of look at different kind of element of the essay. They try to include some literature or what they plan to include as literature, and I would put some comments on the side. But what it does is really it gives us really already a basis for which to engage in once we actually meet in Zoom. It’s not really just a conversation, it’s very much a conversation with a particular purpose in mind.

And the purpose is really to A, ease anxiety, B, have a clear idea of the extent to which they meet the requirements, and C, really get any other concern from the students that I might have missed just by reading their piece of work. This is really I suppose a springboard for a conversation. It’s a springboard for dialogue. And having had already that kind of information before meeting gives the student a more equal ground on which to engage with me. In terms of the finding, well, as we said, it helps with clarification of the assessment criteria. It’s a more personable interaction with students.

I normally meet in small groups of about four or five students. Generally I ask the student to work in small groups, because as you can imagine, there is a certain kind of time involved in meeting with students for this particular task. But it’s still the small group allows me really to talk also to the individual within the group. And there is that kind of process of mutual listening where I hear their concerns and I try to respond on the spot and to tailor the feedback also to their particular needs. Because they might really raise further points really that Adam’s really picked up by just giving written feedback. And in general that results with some degree of reduction of assessment anxiety. For some student anxiety is implicit really in any form of assessment. But with growing empowerment, which results from having already some kind of basis on which to work, generally there is some reduction of anxiety.

And over the years I found that this particular process really results in an improvement in the performance of the students and generally rarely student fail the module that I teach, because they have a fairly good idea of what they’re expected to do and if they put an effort they’re very much likely to do reasonably well. And in general the student find it more meaningful as a result. The challenges, of course is the time intensive, despite small group organization, sometimes the feedback could be challenge. Because obviously they have an opportunity to be present really and to be really engaging directly with the lecturer and really they might actually ask further clarification, but sometimes they might disagree with a point raised. And obviously, there is that kind of element, which I think it’s a healthy kind of way of engaging, generally being challenged it’s an expression of interest. I would regard it as an expression of interest. I will attribute the best motives to the student following to with [inaudible 00:29:31] really kind of tiered relation.

And obviously, the student would sometimes attend to send full drafts and obviously that is not something that I have the time to engage with. That if we like the bullet point draft, it’s a compromise that makes it doable, that makes it possible. But overall, I think it has been quite a positive experience. And I may add one further benefit that I didn’t mention here, but I certainly think that I can see the process of building the essay and in times of AI and ChatGPT where we just got essay just beautifully written and we don’t really get the thinking behind it.

With this particular process the student have to do some effort really to think things through. And it reduces that kind of possibility of an essay just being produced by a machine. Because they have already some kind of structure and generally the bullet point draft is something that doesn’t really, they need to really work out for themselves. So, overall I think very positive. I’d like to pass you on now to Justin for the discussion of example of practice.

Justin Rami:

Thanks very much, Francesca. That’s a really good insight into the background to the work we’ve been doing over the last few years. Just wanted to remind you what the title of this presentation is. Charting Ethical Pathways in Education : Dialogical Feedback for Sustainable & Compassionate Practices. What Francesca talked about was what’s happening right now with our students? And she mentioned the concept of well-being. Well-being is very much on our horizon with all of our students, whether they’re in primary school, post-primary school or in higher education or tertiary education, whether they’re student teachers, or depending on whatever they’re studying. Well-being is being cited and now as one of the major issues in education. And of course, there are reasons for that, the pandemic being one of them, which I refer to in a moment as part of the second example.

We’re used to giving feedback to our students. Feedback is important, we know it’s important. Francesca and I over the years have looked at this concept of feedback moving into this dialogical process that she eloquently described there before. We look at students’ work, we mark the work, students assigned grades and we give them feedback. Our own research within the university sector and especially teacher education also shows us that not all teacher educators are very good at giving feedback. And when we work in a modular structure of credits and assessment and learning outcomes, it can be quite difficult for students to take up feedback information. Because the utility of it may be gone, because it’s a summative process that happens after the fact. And what can they do with that feedback? This concept of feedback is something we’ve been trying to interrogate for a while now. And for me it came to a tipping point about three years ago in the pandemic where we still had to teach, our jobs were still working full time. But we just moved to a different platform. We moved from face-to-face to remote. And remote was a major issue for all of us, positive aspects and negative aspects of course.

But we all had to, it was a steep learning curve, not just for the educators and the teachers and lecturers like us, but also for the students themselves. How do they engage with their lecturers? Most of the time they engage in the lecture rooms and in the classrooms, but a lot of the time it’s done remotely through emails, through feedback, written feedback. We’ll just move on to that next slide there, Francesca. I’ll describe that process that Francesca talked about of actually going through the assessment criteria with the student in an online meeting. I began to use Zoom as well as that process. Students would be given feedback to say a draft essay. I would start the process of assessing. I would already have some stock feedback comments ready to talk to students. Then I would invite them for a meeting where we could discuss that. And this is where the dialogical aspect comes in. It isn’t about teacher telling, which has traditionally been there. It’s actually about engaging in that process, which can be, as Francesca mentioned, a challenging process, but also a very positive healthy process, which does bring on that concept of compassionate care, which ultimately will lead to trust.

And we know when students trust you, they will perform, they’ll perform at a higher level, they’ll perform faster, and they understand their own goals and their requirements. We started that process. You can see in that is I’ve color coded those as well so we can actually look at why I’m giving feedback comments and the students had an opportunity to discuss this in those invited meetings.

You can see these are lots of clips of me during that process, and subsequently describing aspects of their essays, of their submitted work. Why I was focusing on corrective feedback, also praising what they did right, what’s good so they could turn this feedback into generic feedback, which they could transfer to other parts of their learning, other modules. And we’ll talk about that in a moment. We actually began to look at asking the students, “Did that fit video feedback? Did I as a lecturer display empathy and respect and the support and diversity that they bring during the time of the module?” And you can see all of the students were positively disposed to that. A lot of us had a great deal, almost 70%, a lot up to over 35%. And the next slide there, Francesca.

Did the video feedback you received, is it transferable to those other aspects of the modules of this course and your own broader learning journey? Because many of our students are also adults that returned to students, so they need that concept of knowing where they are in their learning process. They need positive reinforcement, they need to know that they’re going in the right direction. Even engaging in this research process was a positive experience for these students. Many of them agreed or disagreed. Some of them didn’t really agree or disagree because they didn’t really know how that transferability may not have occurred yet. And this is something we’re going to be investigating in the future. And the final, I think the next slide there. Can you outline how this type of interim video feedback, and by interim we’re doing it in the middle of an assessment process. It wasn’t the final submitted piece. It was to give them a feed forward concept of where they need to improve, where the areas of development are, and also what they’ve done right. What they’ve already done correctly and what was positive about that. They need that feedback.

You can see 100% of those students surveyed from the modules that they experienced this process agreed that that feedback process was very positive. Some of the qualitative outcomes there, and these are some of the voices of the students we wanted to capture there. Actually, it’s the first lecturer who made video feedback, so I find it very helpful. Sometimes during the chats you may forget something especially helpful that you can watch the video a few times. Not only to re-engage in the video feedback through Zoom, we recorded that process, that whole thing, and then immediately after, the timing is important, that would be sent to the students so they could re-watch it. They could see the transcript from the Zoom as well, so they could analyze that and say, “What did he say about that?” Because often some of the feedback the students would tell us, when they’re meeting face-to-face with a lecturer or professor, then there’s anxiety that comes with that.

There’s always anxiety with assessment anyway, and some of that is historical. But the students sometimes forget everything that they wanted to ask. They don’t necessarily engage in a very true dialogical experience in a face-to-face meeting because of the power dynamics and because of the intimidation that they may feel is there. Some students said that, “I have trouble retaining information in circumstances like feedback meetings.” But being able to look at it back over a few times, I know exactly what is needed to be improved, and that was fantastic. Watching the video repeatedly while carrying out my assignment was easier to have a video playing than having to look at a paper and read someone’s writing. Also, as Francesca mentioned, we’re in this age of digital literacy and students engage with material in a different way. They engage much more with digital media. For them to listen to something to view something is much more accessible than to read pages and pages of writing. And much easier for them to comprehend, also supported by the written work as well. The written feedback is also important.

I felt that because Justin took the time … Sorry, just go back one second there. I felt that Justin took the time to make these videos I had to ensure I didn’t waste his time and work hard on the corrections. What that tells us is the students valued that concept of respect, a mutual trust that Francesca mentioned in the embedding model she showed earlier there. That began to help improve the relationships. Working with those students then, they can trust you in other feedback, in other moments, which means they’re going to perform a lot better in a lot quicker time. Sorry Francesca, you can move on now. So, there are limits, and Francesca mentioned in the example that she gave earlier about the challenges and the benefits. One of the major limits Francesca and I have discussed regularly and these are things we’re going to address in our next iteration of the research is the workload and the issues with sustainability.

How do we sustain this model of dialogical feedback in our practice? How do we extend that to our colleagues? How do we extend that in our faculty and in our university? So, sometimes convincing our colleagues that doing this process is actually taking the pressure off assessment for them and for the students is quite a hard ask. We need to prove it to those and this is why the research exists. We need to prove it to our colleagues so that they can see that there is a sustainability there. It actually will improve their practice. It will limit their time at the end of a learning episode or a period of learning for assessment, so students know exactly what’s expected of them. What we’re trying to say, the sustainability aspect, although challenging in terms of workload and as Francesca mentioned and some of her classes, 170, 200 students, it’s impossible to give individualized dialogical feedback to all of those students on an interim process.

But we can do it in small groups as Francesca mentioned. That scalability is challenging. It is something myself, Francesca and other colleagues are looking at. And there’s also a limited focus of feedback. We have to be very, very careful. It isn’t just, “Here’s the mistakes you made.” We’re trying to generalize to a certain degree. We’re trying to look at themes that are emerging in an essay. Maybe it’s a writing style, maybe it’s an ability to reference correctly, maybe it’s narrative. These are the things that we can try and limit in terms of the focus of the feedback as well with an individual or a group, particularly in small groups. The quick turnaround has to be timely. We know the evidence says and the research says that feedback, assessment feedback has to be timely. I know we are all under time pressures, particularly on the assessors. But it is really, really important that the feedback is given as soon as possible after the corrections and the marking, and the grading has occurred.

Students can actually use it. There’s uptake and they actually put it into practice and it becomes relevant and it becomes real to them. There is that aspect of the invisibility of the assessor effort. Francesca and I talk regularly about the amount of time we’ve put into this outside, excuse me, outside of our actual teaching time and sometimes outside of hours, but we believe it’s actually worth it. It is difficult, it is pressurized, but I think it’s something we can do maybe in pairs and working with mentor teachers as well, and student teachers and teaching assistants showing this model works in practice, we could maybe spread that workload a little bit better in modules and build that into the workload allocation.

The uptake not always is hoped for. Some people don’t agree to join the meetings, the Zoom recordings, and they don’t want the feedback. And often it’s those people who actually really need it. We have looked at that aspect. How do we ensure uptake of the feedback? And I think it’s really important if you’re developing that relationship and that mutual respect that you do check in again with that student maybe in a different module and you know where they are, you know where they are academically. So student effort not always enough to provide meaningful feedback. We can’t control what the students will do after the feedback dialogical meetings. We can’t control what happens. All we can do is advise them and say, “Here’s where your strengths were, here’s where the weaknesses were, here’s where areas of development, here’s elements you could transfer to other essays, other assessments you’re doing right now.” But we can’t always measure that, and there are different reasons.

But at the heart of this is back to the model that Francesca talked about is well-being. We want our students to remove that anxiety from themselves when that assessment process happens. We do know people drop off because of assessments. They fall out of the system, they fall out of classes, they stop going to school, they stop going to college. This helps engagement as well. Engagement is one of the key indicators of success as well in education. I think Francesca is going to join out in this discussion as well. What can dialogical feedback do? So this idea of equality, everybody gets the opportunity to be part of this process and is showing and demonstrating an element of care as Nel Noddings talked about as well earlier there. This idea of care is accepted by students that we care. It also gives power to the students and it gives power to them to have control of their own learning, rather than being subjects of learning.

And rather than going back to this issue we mentioned at the start of teacher telling, students can actually challenge some feedback as well and say, “Can you explain exactly what you mean by that? I thought I did that. Is that what you’re saying? Yes, we can, correct.” So, this is a cyclical process. It is back and forward. The communication is not a transmission model, it’s a dialogical model as Francesca talked about. Maybe Francesca mentions [inaudible 00:45:06].

Francesca Lorenzi:

Yeah, just really to jump in. And there really in terms of those, the potential really the dialogical feedback is all really revolves around that notion of care and voice really. By giving voice to the student we demonstrate our care for the students themselves. And by giving voice to the student we achieve better equality with our student, greater empowerment, but also we build trust. And through that really kind of relationship emphasis really we build stronger attunement with our students. We really become more in tune with what they need and what they might not necessarily know they need themselves. But also really that kind of element of empathy that just really mentioned extremely important, really that kind of really knowing a little bit better a student, knowing what might be required really for their own wellbeing, not only for their academic performance. And the combination of those elements really is necessary. And it’s really something that dialogical feedback really reinforces and promotes if included in pedagogical practice. I don’t know. Justin, do you want to take over from-

Justin Rami:

Yeah, I think we can move on to the next slide now. This idea of transferability, which has been the focus of our work, is how do we transfer this? Francesca and I work in different areas in the faculty of education, which is the largest teacher training faculty in Ireland. And we’re based in Ireland. Maybe we didn’t mention that at the start and we’re recording this in Ireland right now. What we looked at is a module that we both work on together, particularly for teachers going to be working in a further vocational and adult education sector. We’ve got a group of about 70 students. We split those into groups. The module is called Professional Development and Lifelong Learning. One of the concepts that Francesca talked about was this idea of modeling, adding to the Dall’Alba model is this idea of teacher modeling as well.

We’re trying to actually practice what we preach, not just talk about this. By showing the students this process, they can learn it as student teachers and bring that into their own professional practice when they’re on teacher placement or when they’re finished their qualifications and they move into schools and colleges to teach that this is a good positive experience. It is very rigorous, it is very systematic. We did bi-weekly guest inputs. We have experts coming in and you can see a little screenshot of what the course looked like there. And these would be people working in particular domains of education in the state in Ireland. They were asked to do about a 30-minute input to one hour, but immediately what had to happen afterwards, the students were put into small groups and it was structured responses required for them.

Again, the timing and the timeliness is important. They would have to give feedback on that guest experience. What were they talking about? Why were they talking about? How does it link to the theory of transformative learning adult education? How does it fit into the policy in the state about further and vocational education? They were given a very structured template to respond. They did it as a group, they had to do it within a certain period of time, I think it was five days. But what was really important was we would give them feedback immediately or as soon as possible after that, within 24 hours of that. That would help them actually then use that feed forward for their next biweekly feedback. This final submission was based on all the feedback together, I think maybe six or eight feedback elements, and we could meet them then online as well and discuss some of this feedback.

But a lot of the time we met them face to face. So somebody might come up to us at the end of the next class and say, “The feedback you gave me about that, can you tell me what you meant by that?” And we can have that dialogue. The dialogue was continuing in the class the whole time. We believe that it is possible to transfer the model into larger groups. I think it works well when there’s two of us doing it, because the workload is an issue. And it was challenging for Francesca and myself to every week to have to sit down with lots of responses, analyze them and provide constructive feedback, positive feedback, and corrective feedback as well. I think that shows an example of that joint practice we’re talking about and that’s something we plan to continue to do with our students. Because the feedback coming back from us anecdotally is very, very positive.

I think we just want to have one more slide to conclude and we’ll just give you some biographical details about us. Because I know we’re running a bit short on time at the moment. Although, we are recording this, there won’t be an opportunity ironically for dialogue afterwards with the audience. But feel free to contact us anytime after this. I’ll just talk about the first two concepts here. Maybe Francesca will talk about the last two. Going back to some other theorists you might be familiar with, particularly Dewey in 1930. Talked about this knowledge emerging only from situations where learners have to draw them out of meaningful experiences. We want to put the meaningfulness back into teacher education, into that dialogical process, that there’s a reason the students are engaging with us. It isn’t just saying, “Why do I have to do this?” “Is because I said so.”

It isn’t that concept. We really want to show, this is meaningful, this will help you. But also going back to what Biggs and Tang talk about as well. This idea that students learn through being creative and creating things themselves and meaning can’t be imposed. We can say, “This is what that means.” That’s a transmission model. That direct teaching doesn’t really help in our view. This constructivist theory where students can interrogate, can learn from their own experiences. But also that their truth is acknowledged through their own lens and that they can navigate that through dialogue, through that process with their peers as much as with us. The small group learning is important because they can also share their own views on something and develop their confidence through that.

Francesca Lorenzi:

Just really to build on really this last point made by Justin, really that meaning in a dialogical process is not something that is static, but it’s something that is actually negotiators and is co-constructors. We’re talking about dialogue as a process where role are interchangeable. The listening and the speaking are interchangeable activities and they’re not really taken only by a particular individual. But in this particular process the student have an opportunity to be the speakers as much as the listener. And the co-construction, meaning in some ways we refer back to the Gauss concept really whereby the more capable individual is pushing the other outside their comfort zone, that kind of VPD you’ll be very familiar with. And really this dialogical feedback allows us really to push our student a little bit further along that particular progression element really, that it’s really that kind of zone of proximal development precisely because we get a better sense of the student, where they’re at, what they’re thinking, what they might need.

And again, really this really with Black and Williams really brings a deeper meaning to assessment. Is not just something we do to students, but the students do themselves so that assessment becomes an active form of participation in learning from the students themselves. And I suppose that concludes our presentation. And just if you’d like to really contact us, we’re happy to be contacted. And if you have any question, it’s a pity that as Justin mentioned, this is not as dialogical as we would have liked by being live. But unfortunately the schedule didn’t allow us to be present at the time we were allocated. We hope you enjoyed our presentation. We are grateful that you invited us to be part of this event. And we’re very happy to receive question. Any final remark that Justin you want to make yourself?

Justin Rami:

I think that’s a good summary. I mean, there’s a lot of detail in this presentation. Of course, you can review the recording again and again, but just thank you for inviting us. I really hope you got something out of it. And something worth considering when you’re working with your own students is this idea of dialogical feedback leading to compassionate care and trust. And how do we sustain that through our work? Feel free to contact us. We’ve done a lot of work in this area and we’ve other research you may be interested in. Thank you very much for inviting us, and hopefully the rest of the reaction conference goes well for you. I’d just like to say goodbye, and thanks.