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SEED projects 2020 – Designing for learning

Using student to teacher feedback to enhance feedback use in a large course

Dr Amanda Harper

Dr Amanda Harper

Dr Amanda Harper and Anthony Hickey (Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science)

Universities are increasingly turning to technology systems to assist with important processes (e.g., formative assessment) to overcome the challenge of large classes. The efficacy of providing adequate feedback using technology for improved learning outcomes is an important concern for course design. A key challenge, in using technology for instructional feedback and learning, is determining the extent to which students engage with learning opportunities that deepen their understanding as they work toward a learning target. My previous research as a practitioner, in BIOSCI 101, a large, first-year biology course highlighted that students are positive about using technology to deliver feedback. In this course, the education technology Mastering Biology is used to provide assessment for learning. This system provides structured feedback in accordance with good feedback principles, especially around tasks and processes.

Research has shown that most students used corrective (evaluative) feedback. When students used the online feed-forward (directive feedback), there was a payoff for improvement in grades, especially for lower achieving students, but it required persistence. Qualitative research has provided a rich insight into feedback use, by capturing students’ retrospective reflections about using feedback both in the system and in other learning contexts. Findings revealed more subtle complex and nuanced differences in their reasons than was apparent in quantitative analysis.

The goal of this project was to modify the design of a large first year biology course taking into account the findings of practitioner research as part of reflective practice. The project focussed on bringing more directive feedback (Feed-forward) into the learning environment. In particular, it aimed to address the differences between teachers and student views on feedback purpose and style.

Download the poster

Redesigning a large first year course to support self-regulated learning expertise (7MB)