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Feedback processes in online learning environments: main findings from EdOnline Research Group


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Feedback processes in online learning environments: main findings from EdOnline Research Group

Espasa, A.; Guasch, T.; Martínez Melo. M. & Mayordomo, R.

1st International Workshop on Technology-Enhanced Assessment, Analytics and Feedback (TEAAF2014)

Published in: Education
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Feedback processes in online learning environments: main findings from EdOnline Research Group

  1. 1. Page. 1 Feedback processes in online learning environments: main findings from EdOnline Research Group Espasa, A.; Guasch, T.; Martínez Melo. M. & Mayordomo, R. Department of Psychology and Education, Open University of Catalonia Corresponding author Anna Espasa ( Department of Psychology and Education, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Rambla del Poblenou 156, 08018 Barcelona, Spain. Extended Abstract The aim of this paper is to present the main findings of the studies on feedback processes carried out by the EdOnline Research Group from 2010 to now. First of all, we present our conceptualisation of feedback processes in the specific context of online learning environments. Secondly, we present two research projects which were designed taking into account this feedback conceptualization. Conceptualization of feedback in online learning environments Online environments are characterised by the asynchrony (students and instructors do not share time or a physical space) and written communication. In this context, students need learning supports to progressively achieve learning objectives. One of these supports can be feedback. Feedback is conceptualised as a dialogic formative feedback. According to Shute (2008) and Nicol and Macfarland-Dick (2006), the formative quality of feedback is defined as the information which helps the students to improve the assignment and to promote the self-regulation of learning. Following Dysthe and colleagues (2010), effective feedback processes should be based on the dialogue between the writer and the reader. This dialogic process can be understood as a loop, which includes giving feedback (by teachers and/or peers), processing it (discussing it with the teacher and/or peers) and implementing it in an improved product. Research on feedback processes has predominantly focused on the former, giving feedback, which mainly focuses on the conditions or on the feedback design, rather than on how students utilise and implement it (Hattie and Gan, 2011). Taking this gap into account, research carried out by EdOnline Research Group has focused not only on the process of giving feedback, but also on processing and implementing it. For feedback to be effective it has to enable learning and students need to be actively involved in monitoring their own learning and progress (Quinton and Smallbone, 2014, pp128). In this presentation we will highlight the results of the research carried out and the work in progress, about feedback processes in an online learning environment.
  2. 2. Page. 2 Projects on feedback processes carried out by EdOnline Research Group 1. Project: E-feedback in Collaborative Writing processes: development of teaching and learning competencies in online environments (Feed2learn). 2011-2013. Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación. Dirección General de Investigación y gestión del plan Nacional I+D+ I. Subdirección general de proyectos de investigación. EDU2010-19407. As mentioned before, research on feedback has focused more on giving feedback, i.e. on feedback design, than on how students receive feedback and consequently on how they process and implement it (Hattie and Gan, 2011). In order to know and measure how students process feedback in the specific context of writing assignments in online learning environments, a methodological model was designed. This model allowed us to analyse students’ group interaction, that is, how students use and process feedback received. The model proposed, includes three dimensions: 1) student participation (quantity of student participation and heterogeneous/homogeneous student participation) 2) nature of student learning (cognitive, affective and metacognitive activities) and 3) quality of student learning, explained by the quality of students’ argumentation performance on written tasks. The dimension of student participation is complementary to the other two, and contributes to amplify the information collected. Concerning the nature of students’ learning, explains how students use and process the feedback received, and, the dimension of the quality of student learning explains feedback implementation. From this model, an empirical research based on a quasi-experimental study was conducted. We selected a 6-EC module in the Psychology Bachelor’s degree. The module was 15-week long and had 133 enrolled students. The quasi-experiment is based on a natural and real situation in a classroom respecting its ecosystem. Students were randomly assigned to 15 groups that needed to work together in a document. The mean size of the groups was 4,53 students, and they varied between 3 and 5 participants. Every group was randomly assigned to 1 of the 4 experimental conditions. These experimental conditions were the four feedback conditions to be controlled and contrasted: corrective, epistemic, suggestive, and epistemic+suggestive. Other conditions were controlled. All students were in the same virtual class, in the same learning moment and all groups had the same teacher. The experiment consisted in elaborating a first document (draft). Then students received feedback on this draft and the group had five days to use the feedback and deliver a final document. The whole process was registered taking the messages and all the documents delivered and exchanged by the group. All the texts were analysed with a multi-method integrated strategy, with the aim of achieving richer data corpus and its interpretation. Main findings of this project There are two main results: Students who received epistemic feedback significantly outperformed those who received corrective feedback and suggestive feedback. There are no significant differences between epistemic feedback and epistemic + suggestive feedback; there are also no significant differences between corrective feedback and suggestive feedback (Guasch, Espasa, Alvarez, and Kirschner, 2013).
  3. 3. Page. 3 When students received corrective feedback, there were fewer cognitive activities than affective and metacognitive activities. Epistemic+suggestive feedback produces generally the opposite results; it significantly increases the percentage of students engaging in cognitive activities. When taking into account all students receiving suggestive feedback —that is, groups that received suggestive and epistemic+suggestive feedback—, there was a significant increase in the percentage of students that react in a metacognitive way, specially using planning and monitoring activities. Summing up, results obtained show that epistemic and suggestive feedback is the type of feedback that best contributes to learning in writing assignments. However, delivering this type of feedback implies to increase the teachers workload. 2. Project: Feedback and workload: strategies to improve learning in online environments and to reduce teacher workload (OPTIM-Feedback). 2014- 2016 Ministerio de Economía y competitividad. Dirección General de Investigación y gestión del plan Nacional I+D+ I. Subdirección general de proyectos de investigación. EDU2013-48376-P. From a dialogic framework, this project was designed to tackle one of the main concerns in feedback processes - teacher workload and the strategies to make feedback sustainable. This project builds on the hypothesis that the introduction of different channels to deliver feedback, such as audio and video, apart from written, can contribute to reducing teacher workload. The main aims of this project are to: 1) determine general factors that affect the use of different feedback channels (audio, video, written...); 2) elaborate strategies to reduce teacher workload associated to different feedback channels in online Higher Education. 3) obtain evidence about the effects of different feedback channels in improving learning quality. The project has been designed in 4 stages, using multi-strategy methodology: 1. Situation of UOC courses/modules in relation to the implementation of different feedback channels. Teachers’ representative ad hoc survey about experiences and assessment, and perceptions of workload related to different feedback channels. 2. Measure of workload: teachers’ survey detailed by different feedback channels. 3. Feedback channels and its impact on the quality of the learning: quasi- experiment study with students. 4. Perception of feedback channels and learning: students’ survey about channels and discussion groups. At the moment, we are analysing results of the first stage of the survey, including data about how feedback is done in individual, group and final activities. The results of this research will impact on one hand, at a scientific level. They will contribute to the research on feedback processes from the perspective of the channel that facilitates students’ monitoring. On the other hand, results will have an impact at a social level through teacher training and reducing its workload. It will provide the
  4. 4. Page. 4 teaching strategies and resources that facilitate students monitoring during the learning process, so to reduce the dropout rate at a university level References: Dysthe, O., Lillejord, S., Vines, A., Wasson, B. (2010) Productive E-feedback in higher education – Some critical issues. S. Ludvigsen, A. Lund, I. Rasmussen & R. Säljö). Learning across sites: New tools, infrastructures and practices. (pp. 243- 259). Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press. Espasa, A., Guasch, T. & Alvarez, I.M. (2013). Analysis of feedback processes in online group interaction: a methodological model. Digital Education Review, 23, 59-73. Guasch, T., Espasa, A., Alvarez, I.M. & Kirschner, P.A. (2013). Effects of Teacher and Peer Feedback on Collaborative Writing in an Online Learning Environment. Distance education, 34 (3), 324-338, DOI: 10.1080/01587919.2013.835772 Hattie, J. & Gan, M. (2011). Instruction based on feedback. In Mayer, R.E. & Alexander, P. (eds). Handbook of research on learning and instruction. (pp 249- 271). NewYork: Routledge. Taylor and Francis Group.. Nicol, D. & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self- regulatedlearning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 199-218. Shute, V.J. (2008). Focus on formative feedback. Review of Educational Research, 78, (1), 153-189. Quinton, S. & Smallbone, T. (2010). Feeding forward: using feedback to promote student reflection and learning – a teaching model, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, (47)1, 125-135, doi: 10.1080/14703290903525911