1 Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (SPAIN)
2 Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 2868-2872
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Feedback is a by now a well established mechanism in engineering applied to develop automatic control systems [1,2]. The main benefits of feedback come from the generation of an error signal among the desired target and the observed output. The main actors of a feedback control system are the process or system to be controlled and the controller. The controller acts on the system by generating appropriate control actions on the basis of the observed feedback error (target – observed system’s output). As a familiar example, we can consider a room temperature control where on the thermostat we set the desired temperature for the room (this is the target temperature). The temperature is sensed (observed system’s output) by and transferred to the thermostat that accordingly adjusts the heating/ventilating system in order to achieve the desired target temperature.

The instructional feedback model [3] establishes a parallelism among the previously described situation and the relationships between the teacher/instructor and the student/learner. In such a model the teacher/instructor is assumed to be the controller or provider of energy to the system to be controlled (the student’s/learner skills and competences on a specific subject). The instructional feedback is a closed loop model that relies on receiving feedback from the students/learners and to generate different actions to modify its learning performance.

In this communication the idea of instructional feedback is reviewed and slightly reformulated highlighting the necessity and importance of another feedback loop that has to be close on the student/learner side as well as providing the means for this. On the conventional instructional feedback model the feedback is received at the teacher/instructor side, whereas it is, on the author’s opinion, at the student side that has to be closed in order to be effective.

This approach has been tested on an Engineering degree when teaching Signals and Systems to Computer Science students. What is presented here is, after a revision of the instructional feedback model, how this model is modified and implemented. The method has been applied during two years and student performance is compared with previous years. This alternate proposal for the instructional feedback model constitutes, on the authors opinion, an alternative way of looking at continuous evaluation where the main goal is not just to asses the student/learner as he progresses along the syllabus but to provide means for self-learning and motivation on the topics where more attention is required.

[1] Franklin, G. F., J. D. Powell, and A. Emami-Naeini. Feedback Control of Dynamic Systems (Second Edition). 1991.
[2] Paul H. Lewis, Chang Yang. Control Systems in Engineering. Prentice-Hall. 1999
[3] Darrell L. Vines, James R. Rowland, An Instructional Feedback Model for Improved Learning and Mentoring. IEEE FIE - Frontiers in Education Conference, 1995
instructional feedback, continuous evaluation, feedback based mechanisms.