Feedback assessment of Science report writing for first year Genetics students

Tania Blanksby, Chee Kai Chan


In an effort to identify and help correct the observed inadequacies in scientific report writing, we designed a procedure which we introduced as part of the required exercises early in the first year of the Genetics course. An assessment scheme was given to students in which one group received two consecutive cycles of feedback. They had to prepare a short scientific report based on a set of data collected for an experiment. The first draft of the scientific report was submitted to a laboratory partner for a round of peer review. This was returned to them for revision before submission to the laboratory demonstrator for a second round of feedback. Only after two rounds of review and revision were the reports finally submitted for assessment. This was carried out in parallel with two other groups of students who had either a self review using a checklist followed by the peer review or self review followed by the demonstrator’s feedback.

Results from these three groups of students indicated the usefulness of the various cycles of feedback. Although we were unable to show any significance difference between the different treatments to the final grades of their reports, a number of key areas of need in the area of scientific report writing were identified. The exercise sets the stage for a longer term study and has provided a means to sort out those very week ones who are in need of further attention at an early and critical stage of their university life.

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