Difficult but Valuable! Learning in Student-centered Assessment Feedback Practices in Higher Education

Maunumäki Minna *

University of Jyväskylä, Open University, PL 567, 67701, Kokkola, Finland.

Maunula Minna

University of Jyväskylä, Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius, Finland.

Harju-Luukkainen Heidi

University of Jyväskylä, Kokkola University Consortium Chydenius, Finland.

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Aims: The aim of this study is to fill a gap in research on students' experiences of learning in student-centered assessment feedback practices. The article examines what students tell us about their learning in the context of student-centered feedback practices in higher education during online learning.

Study Design: The study was conducted as a qualitative online survey among Finnish university students (N=35). The relationship between learning and assessment was explored in the context of formative and summative assessment practices during an online learning environment. The data was analysed using a discursive approach.

Place and Duration of Study: The research was conducted in Finland during spring 2021.

Methodology: The scientific and philosophical framework of the study is based on the theory of social constructionism, according to which social reality is formed through language in an interaction between people. The methodology used was discursive reading, i.e., how social reality is discursively produced through language. The starting point was the idea that language creates different discourses or perspectives on reality.

Results: The feedback practices provided a different picture of learning and highlighted different dimensions of learning. Learning was discussed in terms of positive emotions, multiple perspectives, sociality, renewal, and holistic learning. In addition, negative emotions, disinformation, regression, and the playing field metaphor were associated with learning. 

Conclusion: The results show that feedback practices that are presented as student-centered do not necessarily support the learning process of adults. Learning and assessment practices based on pedagogy and a learning theory can best support students' personal and social growth and increase their self-esteem. In online learning, teacher guidance and pedagogically based learning support are emphasized. We argue that in online-learning, where the role of the teacher is often small, student-centered well-intentioned assessment practices can only provide a thin veneer of learning unless students are helped to see the holistic importance of assessment as part of the learning process.

Keywords: Assessment, online learning, higher education, continuous learning

How to Cite

Minna, M., Minna, M., & Heidi, H.-L. (2022). Difficult but Valuable! Learning in Student-centered Assessment Feedback Practices in Higher Education. Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science, 35(11), 20–37. https://doi.org/10.9734/jesbs/2022/v35i1130467


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