How technology helps avoid common mistakes in effective feedback
As Mirjam explains, modern learning technologies are helping people to provide feedback that is more timely, relevant, and helpful.
“The most common technology that helps people is what experts call ‘retrieval practice’, such as low-stakes quizzes where people provide their responses,” says Mirjam. “For example, this could involve multiple choice questions using automated feedback. This goes beyond just saying that an answer is correct or incorrect, but also explains why.”
This is critical, says Mirjam, because it allows learners greater insights into where they’re going wrong. “This retrieval practice helps point out common misconceptions and give the information learners need. You can point out exactly how an incorrect answer relates to a correct answer. It takes more initial work to design these exercises, but it’s worth it.”
Another great technology in providing effective feedback to learners? Analyzing open questions.
“You can also use open questions through technology, and work with an instructor to offer context around responses,” says Mirjam. “There are some systems which work with AI to analyze text and provide automatic feedback, too. The advantage is that you get immediate feedback. That’s a real benefit for a novice.”
“As a learner, it’s good if you still remember which answer you gave, and why you gave it. That’s why timely feedback is so important.”
“Simulations are another example of great feedback technology,” says Mirjam. “With simulations, feedback is implicit, so you experience consequences in the simulation based on your behavior. Sometimes that’s sufficient, but it’s important to make feedback explicit around certain consequences, too.”
As Mirjam explains, there’s still a lot of room for improvement when it comes to using technology in offering learning feedback.
“Generally, we still use a lot of correct vs. incorrect responses to questions. This is more of a summative evaluation, but it would be a lot better if we could use low-stake and formative evaluations. This isn’t so much about a judgement of correct vs. incorrect, but unpacking exactly what a learner got right or wrong, and where they need further work.”