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Formative Feedback for Teaching and Learning Effectiveness

By Chanel Sutherland

Few educators would argue with the premise that effective instructors are constantly engaged in the process of continuous improvement (CI). At the classroom level, CI is the driving force behind efficient and effective teaching and learning, where instructors and students are equally involved in what needs to be improved. As part of the Learning Experience Management (LEM) framework, classroom-based formative feedback serves the purpose of instructional improvement that can lead to pedagogical growth throughout the delivery of the course. This article examines some of the key roles formative feedback in the classroom can have on instructor performance and student success.

Real-Time Learning Analytics: Formative feedback goes beyond the summative data provided on end-of-term evaluations by measuring the degree of mastery an instructor demonstrates during the semester. This data is critical to modifying instruction to fit students' needs in order to optimize teaching and learning success - the ultimate objective. By routinely using formative data to monitor student comprehension, instructors can provide support during the course delivery and not after completion when it is usually too late.

Formative feedback data is also corrective by design offering instructors the opportunity to identify their strengths as well as what needs further development. By acting on data in efficient and meaningful ways, instructors can adopt new techniques according to the needs and interests of their classroom. This can go a long way in improving end-of-term evaluation results as well as supporting training, promotions, and tenure decisions.

Close the Achievement Gap: Effective instructors put every student first and will find ways of making each student successful. Identifying students that need extra support and providing that support during the course delivery will result in higher success and retention. However, struggling students are the least likely to speak up and ask for help in the classroom. A formative feedback tool like Bluepulse 2 offers a confidential two-way communication channel where students and instructors can be candid with their feedback.

There are a few immediate benefits to this open feedback process; instructors can act on feedback immediately and make the necessary adjustments. The tool also allows them to track progress with detailed reports that show engagement and follow-up actions. With the Bluepulse 2 app, instructors can now spend less time keeping office hours and more time responding to their students’ needs when they seek assistance.

Read how the University of Mary Washington is Using Formative Feedback to Improve the Classroom Experience

Increase Student Investment in their Learning: When students can see the immediate results of their feedback reflected in instructional improvements, the course becomes more valuable to them. By ensuring that teaching remains relevant to students’ needs, formative feedback allows students to have some control over how they learn. This can go a long way in motivating them to succeed – leading to higher retention rates.

What students take away from a successful course also centers on the connection they have with their instructor. While it can be a challenge for an instructor to connect with every student, formative feedback allows them to check-in frequently, collect and reply to student comments throughout the semester, and send tailored follow-ups.

What other value does formative feedback bring to the teaching and learning experience? Comment and let us know.

Chanel M. Sutherland
Marketing Content Specialist, Explorance

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