Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Instant Feedback Part 1

As part of my master's program I had to do a large research project. I researched whether using technology in the math classroom would improve student attitudes about math and increase their confidence in math. I used student surveys before and after a unit using our online mathematics textbook to track changes in student attitudes and confidence.

The survey asked students to strongly agree to strongly disagree with statements like "Math is difficult for me" "I know I can do well in math" "Learning math is enjoyable", etc. After comparing the results from the pre and post survey, there were no significant changes expect for one statement. "Math is difficult for me." Students went from agreeing with that statement to disagreeing. I gave them an open ended question on the post survey to tell me what they liked about the online textbook. They responded that they liked the feedback and help it gave.

They said:
"It provides a video to help me understand"
"It tells you when you do something wrong"
"It gives more chances"
"It gives you similar problems until you get it right."

I came to the conclusion that students benefited from the instant feedback they received on the website. Because they were instantly able to tell if they got a problem right or wrong, they were able to find mistakes and correct them. A majority of my students were able to see proof that they did understand the concept and felt better about their ability to do math.

Other research also finds that using technology with feedback improves student attitudes towards math. Feedback gives students a chance to improve and then reflect about what they are doing. They correct misconceptions before it becomes solidified. It tells students mistakes are okay and can be learned from and fixed. Students feel like they are improving when they fix mistakes and learn from them in time to not repeat it on the next problem.

We give students feedback when we grade, but it is not instant enough. If students take a test, they go home and most forget about what they were thinking while taking it. If feedback is instant, they remember their thought process, their strategies, etc, and are able to see what worked and what needs improving.

Technology isn't the only way to give instant feedback to students. Later, I'll share some other ways to give feedback to students.

  • Cavanaugh, C., Gillian, K.J., Bosnick, J., Hess, M., & Scott, H. (2008). Effectiveness of interactive online algebra learning tools. Journal of Educational Computing Research. 38(1), 67-95. 
  •  Kim, J., & Jung H. (2010). South Korean digital textbook project. Computers in the Schools, 27(3), 247-265).
  • Zerr, R. (2007). A quantitative and qualitative analysis of the effectiveness of online homework in first-semester calculus. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching 26(1), 55-73. 

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