The Real Truth about Computer-Based Feedback
Computer-based feedback may not be the silver bullet everyone is hoping for in education, but it offers benefits that instructional technology inclusion does not.
Walk into schools around the nation, and you’re like to witness one of two scenarios. Either the school laments that they do not have nearly enough technology for their students or the teachers proudly show off the tech devices in their classrooms and labs.
We already know that sitting students in front of computers does not necessarily improve instruction. When students spend more time alone with technology at school, they score worse than peers around the world who spend less time on the computer. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) math and reading scores drop, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, when students use the internet daily.
For instructional technology inclusion to be useful, it must be relevant. Computer-based feedback can provide meaningful direction for students and teachers alike. Ultimately, it improves academic performance.
Feedback strengthens knowledge transfer
For students to benefit from feedback about their work, the comments must be timely and specific. Professor James Pennebaker (University of Texas at Austin) states, “When people are trying to learn new skills, they must get some information that tells them whether or not they are doing the right thing. Learning in the classroom is no exception. Both the mastery of content and, more importantly, the mastery of how to think require trial-and-error learning.”
Feedback provides this information, and it’s exactly what learners need to confirm that their decisions are correct. For this reason, students need immediate responses regarding their progress. Formative assessment provides this continuous feedback along the path to the summative assessment. Learners know what to correct and how to do it be moving on to something new.
One of the ways instructional technology can improve student learning is through formative assessment. Teachers who use immediate feedback on student progress will help their students achieve greater academic gains. As students engage in critical thinking and solution finding, they are able to correct their thinking more quickly.
The main benefit of computer-based feedback
Many teachers find that grading by hand can be an arduous task.
Evaluating student work and providing constructive feedback often takes place at the end of the day – after teachers have taught for six or seven hours. Many educators don’t assess homework and tests until they’ve taken care of their own families. By then, teachers are exhausted, and sometimes any feedback is delayed until they’re more rested.
Computer-based feedback saves teachers hours of grading. Technology makes grading and giving feedback quick, cost-effective, and objective.
However, what teachers and students appreciate most about computer-based feedback is that it is timely. With immediate feedback, two things take place. Students know exactly what to improve, and teachers know what next steps to help with that academic improvement.
The benefit of using computer-based feedback lies in the immediacy of letting students know how well they performed and whether to intervene or move ahead.
In short, computer-based feedback improves academic performance.