Healing Learning Injuries: The Immediacy of Formative Feedback

cross posted at Education with Technology

If a student has hurt herself and is bleeding, we do not say, “Wait a few days and we will take care of your bleeding.” We help stop the bleeding immediately. However, when a student bleeds academically by showing a serious learning gap, we often delay the necessary treatment.

When a student displays a learning gap, such as not being able to write a topic sentence in a composition, we immediately apply the treatment of providing the student with different new strategies. We do not simply re-give the student the original strategy that was unsuccessful for the student. We have a list of different strategies on the class website, blog, wiki, a handout, or a QR code. We write these strategies in student-talk and provide examples. For example, a topic sentence has a topic, like “the school baseball team,” and a strong position or viewpoint about the team, such as “will win this Friday." The complete topic sentence becomes “The school baseball team will win this Friday.”

We provide a variety of differentiated ways for the students to learn the missing concept of a topic sentence, such as a written explanation. We can ask students to put a box around the topic and put an arrow ( → ) over the position. Also, we can offer the student a variety of other ways of learning this concept, such as a Youtube movie, a podcast, and a visual. The student selects which formative feedback she feels will help her the most. Then, she practices that new strategy so that she improves.

Through the immediacy of formative assessment, we heal the student in their learning. The student does not become injured for the rest of her learning.

Harry Grover Tuttle is a technology integration teacher and a district wide coordinator of technology at Onondaga Community College. He is also the author of several books on formative assessment.