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Feedback is important

That’s why it’s so important that we get it right.

Jaclyn Rooney
Jul 12, 2019 · 3 min read

Feedback is one of the most powerful influencers on student achievement. When done well, it can greatly impact students’ learning and motivation. When done poorly, it can have the exact opposite effect.

That’s why it’s so important that we get it right.

Let’s take a closer look at what does and doesn’t work when it comes to feedback.

What is feedback?

This snappy little video sums it up nicely:

What’s effective and what’s not?

Feedback is most effective when it:

  • provides cues or reinforcement to learners
  • is related to learning goals that are specific and challenging
  • is about the processes underlying the task or how students can self-regulate their learning (above feedback about the task itself)
  • is precise and timely

Feedback is least effective when it:

  • is related to praise, rewards, and punishment
  • is delivered via programmed instruction — where students work through information at their own pace, with each requiring a correct response before going to the next step

The majority of ed-tech companies are built around the latter. The bells and whistles and sense of competition that lures students into a false sense of ‘having fun’, is actually having a negative impact on their learning.

“Extrinsic rewards undermine people taking responsibility for motivating or regulating themselves… Rather, they are a controlling strategy that often leads to greater surveillance, evaluation, and competition, all of which have been found to undermine enhanced engagement and regulation”

Deci & Ryan, 1985).

It saddens and infuriates me that we stand by and let this happen and that ed-tech companies that are built on these premises are being used by schools across Australia and beyond. Schools are actually paying to negatively impact on their students’ education. Quite often, this decision is made because it’s the cheaper resource option, because the students “enjoy” it, and because, quite frankly, it’s the easy option out for teachers.

As an educational technology resource, we take our role very seriously. We have a responsibility to enhance education, not undermine it. It’s our job to find the best ways to use technology to maximise student achievement, and not just to use technology for technology’s sake.

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Technology should never replace teachers, but it can help them see where their students are in their learning and provide feedback to help them advance

This responsibility also falls on each of every one of us as educators. It’s also our responsibility to critically assess every resource we provide to our students, and to question the pedagogical merit underpinning it.

Enhancing your ability to provide effective feedback students is just one lens with which to examine your current resources….but it’s an important one because of the potential impact it can have on student learning.

So…how does your current resource stack up?

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