“It gave me so much faith in myself” University Students' Experiences of Agency in Summative Teacher-centered Assessment Feedback Practices in Higher education
Strengthening the agency of higher education students is one of the key objectives of higher education. Research has shown that the agency of higher education students can be significantly strengthened through different types of assessment feedback practices. However, the role of assessment feedback in strengthening the students agency is not fully understood in practice. While formative, student-centred feedback practices are becoming more common, summative, end-of-course, teacher-centred feedback practices are still prevalent in higher education. This study seeks to address the research gap of how university students perceive their agency to be constructed in the context of teacher-centred summative written and audio feedback. From these premises, the research question was designed: what kind of agency emerges from students' experiences of summative assessment feedback? The study was conducted as a qualitative online survey for university students (N=35) in Finland. The data was analyzed by means of qualitative systematic data driven content analysis. According to the results, students perceive the summative assessment feedback they receive from their teachers as a reflection of their own agency and how it is shaped. In the light of the assessment practices examined, students' agency was found to be reflexive, contradictory and incomplete. The results show that the recognition of the relationship between student agency and assessment feedback in higher education is important but still less well recognised. The results of this study are relevant for the development of assessment feedback practices that sustainably promote the construction of student agency in the context of lifelong learning and digitalisation of teaching in higher education.