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Optimising Feedback with DOMS™️
Five practical tips to 10X the impact of your feedback
A question I get asked a lot is: what does the research tell us about how to write & deliver feedback?
Here’s a summary of the evidence, distilled into five tips:
Explaining why an answer is right or wrong is proven to be more effective than simply displaying scores.
Feedback is most effective when it:
provides the learner with next steps to correct misunderstandings;
prompts the learner to extend their learning in some new and novel way- e.g. through offering new questions for consideration, or a chance to tackle the same or a more complex challenge again.
In practice: optimised feedback explains why an answer is right or wrong & provides an immediate opportunity to try again, followed by a second round of feedback.
The quantity of feedback given to the learner matters. As a rule: the more feedback a learner receives, the more likely they are to achieve outcomes.
In practice: optimised feedback happens regularly; ideally there are 2-3 pieces of well-crafted feedback (~2-3 mins each), per 1 hr of learning.
The length of time between a learner’s action & the feedback of either a peer or instructor also matters. The longer the wait, the less valuable the feedback.
In practice: in optimised course designs, all learner activity is followed immediately by well-crafted feedback.
Research has found that feedback has more impact on learner outcomes when it is verbal rather than text-based. This is in part because the feedback is more embodied & authoritative - i.e. it’s clear who the source is and that they are trustworthy (e.g. human, not machine).
In practice: optimised feedback is delivered via responsive or pre-recorded video or audio, rather than text.
Learners consistently skip feedback when it’s too too long. Extended feedback leads to cognitive overload which in turn leads to disengagement.
In practice: optimised feedback is short & targeted. It takes ~2-3 minutes to consume & focuses on common errors and/or examples of great, related back to key outcomes.
🎓 Crisp, E., & Bonk, C. J. (November, 2018). Defining the learner feedback experience. TechTrends, 62(6), 585-593
🎓 Heritage, M. (2007). Formative assessment: What do teachers need to know and do? Phi Delta Kappan, 89(2), 140–145
🎓 Maier, U., Wolf, N. & Randler, C. (2016). Effects of a computer-assisted formative assessment intervention based on multiple-tier diagnostic items and different feedback types. Computers & Education, 95, 85–98
🎓 Wylie, C. & Lyon, C. (2012, June). Formative assessment—Supporting students’ learning. R & D Connections (No. 19)
I’d love to hear how you write & deliver feedback & how it’s impacted your learners’ outcomes. Share your thoughts / comments / challenges / questions in the comments below.
Happy designing! 👋
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