The National Student Survey (NSS) has indicated over several years that not all students in UK higher education are satisfied with the feedback they receive on their assessments. However, the Open University consistently receives high scores for student satisfaction in the area of feedback and assessment. This article provides an overview of the Open University’s model of providing written feedback on student assignments, which may be useful for other institutions. The basic model is to provide students with a sandwich in which constructive criticism is presented embedded within praise for attainment. There is also a focus on general feedback that can be applied to future assessment situations, rather than detailed corrections on assignment tasks that are not necessarily repeated.
As students often ask for a viva assessment in philosophy, we set out to answer three questions:
I. Would there be a sizable uptake of viva assessment if it were offered?
II. Would students perform roughly as well as they did in other modes of assessment?
III. Would students find the experience educationally satisfying?
It turns out there was not a sizable uptake and there was no significant statistical difference in performance between modes of assessment. Finally, students did find the experience educationally satisfying. In this paper we reflect on these results, reflect on the limitations of our study, and conclude with some suggestions for future work. This paper would be particularly useful for anyone within the Arts and Humanities who are considering introducing assessed oral presentations into their course.