Effective feedback is more important than ever in instances where there is need to accommodate flexible study patterns and maintain productive student engagement in our hybrid learning environments. Folding in regular feedback opportunities is crucial for checking for individual understanding; giving students an indication of where they are in relation to achieving learning outcomes or standards, where they need to progress to, and how they will be able to reach the expected level.
More important still is that digital learning environments also provide a variety of opportunities for students to actively engage with feedback information to support their learning development that also help to maintain a sense of connection with tutors and peers.
In a general sense, the provision of feedback can be conceptualised as one form of scaffolding for learners. The simplest scaffolds provide feedback based on the performance of a learner on a specific learning task. When it comes to developing knowledge and skills in relatively complex and challenging domains, issues relating to motivation and engagement emerge as important feedback areas. The reality is that motivation and engagement are important areas to support with regular opportunities for feedback in nearly every learning situation because there is a clear link between motivation, engagement, time-on-task and learning outcomes.
Utilising the affordances of available educational technology and digital tools in our feedback processes has the potential to help shape flexible learning-focused assessment experiences through:
- Supporting the diversity of the student population by employing different combinations of feedback methods and support to meet the variety of learning needs for different groups of students.
- Providing greater flexibility and choice for students in the timing, content, and location of assessed work.
- Providing variety and authenticity in assessment design and delivery, i.e. using simulated tasks or environments.
- Supporting and capturing a wider range of skills such as problem-based and inquiry-based approaches.
- Speed up the provision of feedback – either through automated responses (e.g. live polling), or through providing generic feedback, or making use of technology for speedier dialogic (formative) communication (e.g. discussion forums/chat functions).
- Promoting consistency, accuracy, and fairness in marking assessed work (i.e. through the interactive use of assessment rubrics).
The latest LTE 7-minute read on Delivering Effective Online Feedback draws on such affordances to outline practical guidance for embedding a three-step process comprising: 1) Preparatory Feedback; 2) Process Feedback; 3) Performance Feedback.