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Best Practices for Feedback Using Technology

Should we opt for traditional feedback or favor technological feedback? What are the best practices for feedback with ICT? A researcher answers these questions. […]

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Should we opt for traditional feedback or favor technological feedback? What are the best practices for feedback with ICT? A researcher answers these questions.

Many teachers ask learners to submit their productions on a digital medium. For example, you are asked to submit a work in PDF format on the establishment's digital learning environment. But when the time comes to give feedback to students, few teachers opt for digital feedback, preferring to give it in writing.

With a doctorate in psychology, Stéphanie Facchin is an educational advisor and project manager at Cégep à distance. She is currently researching technology feedback. Madame Facchin and her research team, made up of Denise Brodeur and Patricia Guay, presented the main lines of their work in a workshop at 36e annual conference of theQuebec Association of Collegial Pedagogy which was held from June 8 to 10 at the Convention Center in Quebec City.

Shortly after their presentation, Ms. Facchin agreed to answer some of our questions.


What is the distinction between traditional feedback and technological feedback?

Generally speaking, feedback on the work that the teacher gives to the learners is often done directly by handwriting on the hard copies. We are talking here about traditional feedback since this practice remains the norm, the usual way of doing things and has been prevalent for some time. Now, we also note that some work is submitted in electronic format (Word or PDF mainly), which allows the teacher to insert comments on the electronic copy. Even if technology is involved in this way of giving feedback, I would tend to also speak of traditional feedback since the "written" comment is still the way of giving feedback.

With the development of many information and communication technologies (ICT), it is possible to turn to means other than the written word. We think of the use of audio comments, video of the copy or even videoconference with the learner using, why not, a collaborative online whiteboard. This is what we use in the project Homework + as technology feedback.


Why is it important to be interested in technology feedback?

Following a first study that we conducted, we realized that the vast majority of written comments that could be found on the copies were in the order of academic correction (at more than 70%) . Above all, this allows the learner to situate himself in relation to the task requested. Is it successful and to what extent? We find on the copies a lot of brackets and notes, corrections of mistakes, and this, often without explanations.

Knowing that feedback plays a proven role in the learning process and that it is among the 10 factors that have a significant impact on success and learning, we wanted to see if ICT could improve the traditional feedback that l 'one could observe on the copies.

Other studies have indeed shown that traditional feedback presents challenges such as constraints of time, space and understanding by learners. Technological feedback could be less time consuming, allow more detail to be provided and facilitate learner ownership. But the main potential of ICT lies in the possibility of enriching the feedback given to learners and developing in them a sense of social presence, that feeling that someone cares about your success. This feeling is important for students in general, but is of even greater importance in our case, since our project was about feedback in distance education.

Studies have shown a high level of learner satisfaction with technology feedback. However, few studies have compared the impact of several technological means (audio, video, videoconferencing) and their influences on grades and the rate of success and persistence among learners.

This is how our research project was born Homework +.


Tell us about the main lines of this research project.

The “official” title of the project is as follows: Feedback: traditional or technological? Impact of the means of disseminating feedback on perseverance and academic success. Thus, the purpose of this research project is to determine whether the use of audio files, or of video or of videoconferencing in the context of feedback on work really brings a plus and influences the success and perseverance of learners. Learners' perceptions and the impact of these means on the supervision system will also be documented. The project also has a knowledge and expertise transfer component by making it possible to identify good practices in terms of technological feedback.

As a result of your research, you have identified some winning technology feedback practices. What are they?

In the scientific literature, several good feedback practices have already been identified. We have used this evidence-based knowledge to develop our feedback practices.

It is not possible to list all the winning practices, but here are a few.

  • Video or audio recordings of 5 minutes or less
  • Be prepared to provide comments, but remain natural and spontaneous (like a face-to-face interaction, not wasting time making arrangements to perfect the voice or image)
  • Start the recording with a personalized greeting. Hello, Stéphanie!
  • Ask the learner to take their copy of the work while listening or viewing the recording
  • Explain the main places where the learner is right or wrong, explaining why
  • Summarize what the learner did well and what less well, explaining why and giving examples and referring to specific places
  • End with an open question, in order to encourage the learner to question himself and to have a dialogue.
  • And a crucial principle that also prevails for traditional feedback, which is that of providing specific feedback related to the work requested and not a general comment such as, for example, “good job!” without explaining why it is good or not.



Ms. Facchin and Ms. Brodeur's PowerPoint document presented at the conference is available on the AQPC website. Those interested in learning more about best practices in technology feedback can consult the article by Feedback, success and perseverance: results of a study and sharing of good practices, published in Profweb last fall.

The project Homework + is currently still being tested with learners who register for Differential Calculus and Integral Calculus courses at Cégep à distance.

Are you interested in the project? Do you want to participate? Do you want to know the results or learn more? Do you want to communicate with the manager? Visit the web page dedicated to the project Homework +

About the Author

Dominic Leblanc
Dominic leblanc
A graduate in sociology, Dominic Leblanc is an educational advisor in the Programs and Educational Development Department of the Cégep régional de Lanaudière in L'Assomption.

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