Technology as a source for Immediate Feedback

Watching the TEDTalk by Richard Culatta brought to my attention the question of how can myself (and other educators) use technology to reimagine learning over continuing to use technology to “digitize traditional learning practices.” Culatta brings up three major challenges that we have in the educational world revolving around technology:

1 – Treat all learners the same despite unique needs and challenges.

2 – We hold the schedule constant and allowing learning to vary.

3 – Performance data comes too late to be useful to the learner.

The last challenge or point that Culatta made stuck out to me because at my current school everything revolves around data and how to interpret data so that we can improve our students’ learning.  However, it really feels like we are bombarded with data (numbers), and told to make sure students move up points, but not necessarily for the sake of the student and his/her learning, but rather for the sake of keeping your job.  We just received all of the results for the NWEA tests results for both Reading and Math for all of our students at my school and I had to create a data wall in my classroom with my specific students’ scores and goals to accomplish by the next NWEA testing (sometime in the Winter).

My students honestly don’t fully understand what these tests do or in the long term, really mean, they just take them and a majority of them just randomly click throughout the test and don’t actually read through the question.  With this in mind, I decided to set off this week’s learning topic for my CEP 811 class to further understand how immediate feedback can help students’ understanding of material, but also their understanding of how to ultimately improve upon their learning. 

After doing some researching using the MSU Libraries — specifically on ERIC (powered by proQuest) and the EBSCOHost site, I found two articles that I felt help support and connect my understanding of immediate feedback for learning.

The first article is called “Effects of Feedback in a Computer-Based Learning Environment on Students’ Learning Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis,” by Rabienne M. Van der Kleij, Remco C. W. Feskens, and Theo J.H.M. Eggen.  Overall, the data collected and analyzed by these researchers found that:

“The results show that elaborated feedback (EF; e.g., providing an explanation) produced larger effect sizes (0.49) than feedback regarding the correctness of the answer (KR; 0.05) or providing the correct answer (KCR; 0.32),” (Van der Kleij, et al. 2015 p. 475).

These researchers specifically focused on formative assessment and providing students with immediate feedback as it can be crucial for the process of learning and understanding the material better. “Although there is no generally accepted model of how feedback leads to learning, most research that has investigated the effects of feedback rests on the notion that when students are provided with feedback on their response to an item, this can confirm or alter their knowledge and skills (Mory, 2004).” (Van der Kleij, et al. 2015 p. 476).

In their research, they analyzed different types of feedback for a better understanding of what can improve students’ learning and understanding.

Elaborated Feedback (or EF) provides an explanation as to what the student got wrong. Knowledge of Results (or KR) provides student(s) with just knowing the results immediately (right or wrong, but not knowing the correct response). Knowledge of Correct Results (or KCR) provides students with an immediate response of what the correct answer is when they got the question wrong. (Van der Kleij, et al. 2015 p. 477-78).

The article takes note of the fact that one-to-one tutoring is the most effective form of education in terms of learning because the student gets an opportunity to get immediate get feedback when there is a misunderstanding and try something different to help the student better understand the material (Van der Kleij, et al. 2015 p. 479).  Thus, in a computer-based learning environment, if a program can be functional in that it can not only help a student learn material, but then also formatively assess the students’ understanding while also providing them feedback both elaborate feedback and knowledge of correct results feedback so that he/she understands where they went wrong and move on from there.

While the meta-analysis done by Van der Klei et al. provides the necessary research to educational computer program developers to create better tools for educators to use for formative assessment, I think it also provides a better understanding for educators in that they (we) should find ways to also develop better ways to provide immediate elaborate feedback to our students so that they can better understand where they went wrong and improve their understanding of the material almost immediately.

The second article I found was set more specific to computer-based immediate feedback and test anxiety in a foreign language classroom. I thought this would be an interesting article to read because I teach Spanish.

The study itself investigated the effects of immediate feedback on computer-based foreign language listening comprehension tests and on interpersonal test-associated anxiety amongst 72 English major college students at a Taiwanese University (Lee, S-P et al. 2012 p. 995).  The tests were setup by a software called MOODLE and a State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) over the course of several weeks.

The study found that “immediate feedback during testing caused significantly higher anxiety and resulted in significantly higher listening scores than in the control group, which had no feedback. However, repeated feedback did not affect the test anxiety and listening scores. Computer-based immediate feedback did not lower debilitating effects of anxiety but enhanced students’ intrapersonal eustress-like anxiety and probably improved their attention during listening tests. Computer-based tests with immediate feedback might help foreign language learners to increase attention in foreign language listening comprehension.” (Lee, S-P et al. 2012 p. 995).


I thought this was an interesting find because I know that many students talk about getting anxiety when they know they have to take a formative assessment.  If educators begin using computer-based technology to provide assessments to their students, over the course of time that test anxiety is going to go down, because students are aware that they are going to get that immediate feedback (repeatedly) and understand that it will help them with learning the material.

Overall, I these two articles prove Culatta’s points in his TedTalk that it’s necessary for educators to find ways to provide immediate feedback (specifically using computer-based modules) to enhance students’ learning of the curriculum material.

The questions I can raise here are what types of resources are out there for teachers to use to create immediate feedback responses to their students?  How can we make sure that students don’t feel overwhelmed with the feedback — for example, if a student consistently gets bombarded with negative, specific feedback, how can we help them to understand that it will improve their overall performance (which is a positive thing) rather than get bogged down by the negative results?

Putting all of  this together with Maker Education can show that it allows educators to have a unique opportunity to come up with their own ways of providing immediate feedback.  Whether it’s creating a circuit board that immediately tells students whether they have a correct response to a question, or using a Makey-Makey kit connected to a computer that provides immediate feedback upon choosing the right response on a game board. All of this ties together, because it gives us, as educators, an opportunity to think outside of the box and find creative ways to enhance students’ learning through feedback and thus an opportunity to create innovative ways to provide that immediate feedback for learning.


Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. National Academies Press. Retrieved from

Culatta, Richard. (2013). Reimagining Learning. TedxTalk Beacon Street. Retrieved from

O’Donnell, A. (2012). Constructivism. In APA Educational Psychology Handbook: Vol. 1. Theories, Constructs, and Critical Issues. K. R. Harris, S. Graham, and T. Urdan (Editors-in-Chief). Washgington, DC: American Psychological Association. DOI: 10.1037/13273-003.

Lee, S-P., Su, H-K., & Lee, S-D. (2012). Effects of Computer-based Immediate feedback on foreign language Listening Comprehension and Test-associated Anxiety. Perceptual & Motor Skills; Jun. 2012, Vol. 114 Issue 3,p. 995-1006. Retrieved from Sage Journals at Michigan State University Libraries.

Van der Kleij, F.,  Feskens, R. & Eggen, T. (2015). Effects of Feedback in a Computer-Based Learning Environment on Students’ Learning Outcomes: A Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational Research, p. 475 – 511. Retrieved from at Michigan State University Libraries.

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Mara Deutch

Simplifying the complex. Dedicated to captivating and engaging learners of all ages with the joy of technology’s transformative power. Accomplishing the impossible together. Learn with me how to extract maximum technology value. It’s life changing, try me.

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