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“To listen or to read?” Audio or written assessment feedback for international students in the UK

Esyin Chew (Senior Lecturer in Technology Enhanced Learning, Teaching and Assessment, Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, UK)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 6 May 2014




In response to the less satisfied National Student Survey, UK universities have committed to transform assessment and feedback experience. This paper aims to explore how the diversity of online assessment and feedback offer a better learning experience for international students.


By using the action research method, the research investigated academic and international students' first experience on audio feedback and online text. Video interviews and online questionnaires were carried out.


All research participants would like to receive assessment feedback in audio form. This reflects the learning experience of students and suggests that the support of a higher educational institution or a tutor could provide for assessment and feedback enhancement in the digital world is mandatory. Other than the technological and instrumental advantage, the “human element” of audio feedback makes it unique and interesting to listen to in contrast to online written feedback.

Research limitations/implications

It is recognised that the number of student participants was small but the qualitative findings demonstrate some key issues in relation to international student experience and the effectiveness and engagement of assessment feedback that may inspire future empirical research.

Practical implications

Some conditions under which feedback is likely to be effective are not met as frequently as originally believed, audio feedback can be thoughtfully considered as an alternative assessment feedback mechanism for international students.


The “‘human element’ of audio assessment feedback” defeats online written text for international students. They appreciate the effort spent by the tutor to provide them assessment and feedback personally by “talking to them”.



This project was funded by the University of Glamorgan's Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) Fund. Special thanks to Helena Snee for her valuable contribution on the project development and feedback on the use of educational technologies. The project would like to acknowledge the invaluable technical support on Turnitin GradeMark from the iParadigm Europe Ltd during the project period. Several individuals offered advice and support in different aspects of project, including Professor Norah Jones, Haydn Blackey, Dr Elaine Huntley and Charlotte Freeman. The project is also grateful to all international students who engaged in the data collection process.


Chew, E. (2014), "“To listen or to read?” Audio or written assessment feedback for international students in the UK", On the Horizon, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 127-135.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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