Marshall McLuhan said that "technology is an extension of man." We would like to extend his famous quote to the area of education and say that "Educational technology is an extension of the instructor." This is specifically relevant for the area of formative assessment, which involves providing learners with meaningful feedback.
A recent article that was published in Edutopia described five research-based guidelines for providing learners with meaningful feedback. These guidelines are aimed for teachers who provide feedback on a daily basis. The guidelines do not include the usage of technology. In this post, I would like to show how the use of technology in the classroom can empower the teachers in providing feedback.
Guideline #1 - Be as Specific as Possible
This guideline is based on a review of the research entitled, "The Power of Feedback". In this research University of Auckland professors, Helen Timperley and John Hattie, highlight the importance of supplying learners with specific information about what they are doing correctly or incorrectly.
Technology can provide specific feedback for specific content. For example, it is possible to determine a student’s areas of strength and weakness through the mistakes they have made in assignments. Therefore, teachers can be more detailed in their evaluation of students and give targeted advice to help them improve.
Guideline #2 - The Sooner the Better
Research shows that feedback is most effective when it is given immediately. In one study that looked at delayed vs. immediate feedback, researchers found that participants who were given immediate feedback showed a significantly larger increase in performance than those who had received delayed feedback.
Another research project from the University of Minnesota showed that students who received lots of immediate feedback were better able to comprehend the material they had just read.
Now, think about the potential of technology for providing immediate feedback with interactive questions that run seamlessly on smartphones, and provide data for instructors, students, and organizations.
Guideline #3 - Address the Learner's Advancement Toward a Goal
The "Power of Feedback" report shows that effective feedback is most often centered on a specific achievement that students are working towards. When giving feedback, it should be clear to students how the information they are receiving will help them progress toward their final goal.
This feedback in real time also comes with analytics and reports that can help to advance the goals of learners, instructors, schools, or districts. With actionable analytics, students will benefit from enhanced teaching since teachers can determine which subjects needs more attention or were poorly understood, which will help them stay motivated and create a more enjoyable experience for all those involved. Time in class will be handled more efficiently, distributing more available time for the topics with which students are struggling. Even if learners are not able to identify and voice their weak points, instructors can determine the areas of difficulty through the software. This gives everyone greater chances of succeeding.
Guideline #4 - Present Feedback Carefully
The way feedback is presented can have an impact on how it is received.
Psychologist Edward Deci has identified three situations in which feedback could be counterproductive:
1. When learners feel too strictly monitored
2. When learners interpret feedback as an attempt to control them
3. When learners feel an uncomfortable sense of competition
To avoid these situations, Deci suggests fully explaining the purpose of any monitoring system, and ensuring that learners understand how the feedback is meant to help them compete against their own personal bests rather than each other.
Now think about the potential of technology in providing careful feedback to the students when the teacher receives real- time data and can intervene and thereby minimize learner frustration.
Guideline #5 - Involve Learners in the Process
Involving learners in the process of collecting and analyzing performance-based data is very important. Pennebaker says:
Students must be given access to information about their performance . . . At the broadest level, students need to know if they actually have mastered the material or not. Giving them information about the ways they are studying, reading, searching for information, or answering questions can be invaluable.
When students have access to this information, they develop an awareness of their learning, and are more easily able to recognize mistakes and eventually develop strategies for tackling weak points themselves.
Technology has the ability to involve the students in the process of collecting information about performance to later analyze it and present it to the teacher. This produces more accurate data: teachers know who is struggling with the content that is being taught throughout the lessons. As a natural result, using technology as a tool helps teachers to create and present content that is relevant to students. The integration of technology and education is very important, since together they make classes more relevant and effective for students, which leads to motivation and greater chances of success.
Time To Know has invested ten years in developing a suite of advanced technologies for formative assessment. These platforms are successfully implemented in K12 education as well as in adult learning environments.
For more information please go to: www.timetoknow.com