Can students write good formative feedback statements?

Starting from Monday, we are introducing a new level of challenge into our quizzes. We shall be asking students to write formative feedback statements for each other. This is strictly experimental, and I have my finger on a button to switch it off instantly if it is not working.

Here is what your students will see during their next quiz:
Can students write good formative feedback statements?

Last term, we ran a series of limited tests which convinced me that a significant minority of students can write formative statements that actually speak more powerfully to the reader than those written by even our best adult authors. What’s more, with the right software, students can collectively identify the best statements from a range of options. I was surprised and excited at how well this worked.

The next step is to test whether this can be replicated by the student population generally. So, we have added into the quiz template an additional screen that will show, on average, after one in ten of the questions a student has answered correctly. It asks the student to provide a feedback statement for one of the other, incorrect, options.

The rules given are the standard requirements for formative feedback:

  1. Explain, for someone who chose this, why it is the wrong answer
  2. Don’t give the game away by telling them the right answer
  3. Help them work it out for themselves

This is just a first stage, and there is quite a long way to go before we get to a finished product (and we may not! A fatal flaw may be lurking still, we’ll see). Not implemented yet is the ‘choosing’ stage where students show us the best formative statement out of all those available. We have the core algorithm for that already, but not the interface. And there will be many tweaks necessary to make it practical and enjoyable for all students. If all goes well, you will see it slowly evolving through this term.

I shall be fascinated by your reports of how your students respond to this. I will see the end result, of course, but the discussions around it may well be equally revealing. If you are actively using Yacapaca over the next week, look out for a survey invitation to discuss your observations.


4 responses to “Can students write good formative feedback statements?”

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