IS EDUCATION STILL A LEARNING PROCESS?

J. Bonner

Central Washington University (UNITED STATES)
In the world of higher education, the presumed wisdom is that education is a product, but more importantly, it is a learning process. However, learning requires a closed loop of feedback coming from the instructor, to the student that will read and act upon that feedback. Research has suggested mixed reactions of students regarding their perceptions of feedback. In the Spring Quarter, 2018 three faculty at Central Washington University discovered that Canvas, the chosen learning management system, had evidence that showed if students opened the annotated comments that were on submitted papers. Thus, we started collecting this data in order to set a baseline for how the feedback learning loop was working with our classes during the academic year of 2018-2019. The faculty had long suspected that students may not even open the feedback, but the department now had evidence to validate if this assumption were true.

Based on the analysis of the data within Canvas, students opened the annotated feedback less than 40% of the time. While studies have sought to discover if students find feedback important, or how students perceive the feedback process, students will often say they want actionable feedback; however, faculty have reported seeing repeated errors over and over as evidence that there is a disconnect in this feedback process. The average delay of days that it took students to look at the feedback was over 7 days. Students were not looking at the feedback quickly enough to actually help them make changes on the next assignments. In addition, students looked at feedback early in the quarter, but the engagement waned through the quarter. We also found that the higher the grade a student was earning, the more the student did review the feedback. Thus, the students earning good grades were exhibiting the behavior required to earn those good grades.

In this study, using a case study approach, the paper outlines the annotated feedback process the faculty used in their classes, and how the faculty approached data collection and the review of data. The results showed faculty that new strategies are needed to educate students about the feedback process and how the faculty have structured the feedback process to improve the level of engagement with feedback for students. The paper outlines the three strategies the faculty have implemented through the preliminary results of this study. One change made on these results was to add a graded feedback assignment in week one of courses as a way of ensuring students know what to do with feedback. A second strategy was to change rubrics on final projects where the students had graded formative assignments leading up to that final submission. A new line item on the final project ensures that students have corrected feedback on the formative assignments in the final submission. Finally, some faculty are using a step-by-step mastery approach, where the initial formative assignments are redone until a student shows mastery and then the student can move on to the next step.