Stimulating linear learning behavior

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Whitepaper

Stimulating linear learning behavior

Practical application of technology

By Fleur Deenen, MSc.

Digital Innovations For Education


Digital Innovations For Education


Stimulating linear learning behavior

Practical application of technology

Introduction

We live in a rapidly changing world. This means we have to educate students for the professions of tomorrow.

They need the ability to continuously keep learning and invent solutions for still unknown problems. Traditional

education focuses on the transfer of knowledge, while the changing world requires students who are responsible

for managing their own learning processes. This also means that the role of the teacher is changing. Teachers are

increasingly taking on the role as coach, instead of merely transmitting knowledge. A coaching teacher can guide

students throughout the learning process and help them reach their goals by providing them with feedback.

In traditional education we often see a single assessment at the end of a period. This type of assessment causes a

one-time reproduction of knowledge, resulting in less retention of knowledge. To foster continuous learning, it is

important that teachers have good insight in their students’ learning process, and that students are continuously

triggered to improve their performance.

This paper explains why a one-time reproduction of knowledge is still a commonly used assessment type and

what the limitations of this approach are. We will also discuss how multiple measurement points can stimulate

linear learning behavior and what feedback contributes to the learning process. We conclude that technology can

facilitate this process and we will support this with a practical example.

Limitations of one-time reproduction of knowledge

With teacher-centered learning, a fairly traditional form of teaching, the teacher determines what happens in class.

The content and direction are fixed; teachers often indicate the style and tempo. This usually results in one single

assessment at the end of a period, which is mainly directed to (one-time) reproduction of knowledge. Students in

fact do not have the ownership of their own learning process in this case (Slaats, 2013).

In the case of a one-time reproduction of knowledge you can speak about lower order learning. The student

Assessment

drives how

students learn

reproduces the knowledge acquired previously and because they do it only once there is little

retention of knowledge. This undermines higher order learning, whereby knowledge can be

understood and applied to new situations. The taxonomy of Bloom (Bloom et al., 1956)

shows that simply reproducing knowledge is located at the lowest level of the pyramid.


Assessment is one of the most powerful means by which teachers can influence the way students learn (Brown

& Glasner, 1999; Rust, 2002). It not only determines what type of learning is induced (for example remembering,

understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating or creating), but also the point of time at which students learn. If

there is one single assessment at the end of a period, this often means students tend to put in a lot of effort only at

the end of that period (Gibbs, 2010; Rust, 2002; Van der Drift & Vos, 1987; Vos, 1998). A so-called ‘cognitive overload’

happens before the infamous snapshot. This results in suboptimal learning results.

Use several measurement points

To prevent one-time reproduction of knowledge, it is important to use several measurement points (Van der

Better insight

into the learning

process gives

an opportunity

to make timely

adjustments

Vleuten, 2011). The different point-measurements trigger students to actively interact with the

educational content during the duration of the course. Students will therefore receive more

information about their learning process, and will be able to monitor their progress in

reaching their personal learning objectives. They can then adjust their learning well in

time. This way of assessment is also known as longitudinal assessment.

The different point-measurements are often formative. Assessing is actually more than

the assessment of knowledge alone. It is a way to increase the informativeness of the

learning process and to take students to a higher level by giving them feedback. This is also

called “Assessment for learning” (Castelijns, 2015).

Effect of feedback

Feedback is seen as an important element in formative assessment (Black & Wiliam; 1998; Hattie & Timperley,

2007; Rust, 2002). By providing timely feedback at the different measurement points, the gap between current

performance and desired performance will continue to get smaller (Sadler, 1989).

Three forms of feedback (feedback, feed-forward and feed-up) are seen as important components for learning

(Hattie & Timperley, 2007). By giving feedback, the teacher reacts to the performance of the student (with respect

to specified criteria or learning outcomes). In case of feed-forward the teacher supports students by discussing

with them what approach is needed to achieve the goal. The teacher uses feed-up to present the final goal to the

student. When giving feedback, interaction is very important. Intensive interaction between the teacher and the

student stimulates learning (Sluijsmans, Joosten-ten Brinke & Van der Vleuten, 2013). Therefore, it is important to

start a dialogue with the student when giving feedback.

In case of longitudinal assessment the assessment not only takes place after completion of the learning process;

the assessment is also used to monitor and foster the learning process. Several point-measurements that include

feedback enable that interventions can be done well in time, students’ misconceptions are disproved and deeper

learning can be encouraged (van Berkel, Bax & Joosten-ten Brinke, 2014).

4 Drieam Whitepaper - Stimulating linear learning behavior - Practical application of technology


How technology contributes to a linear learning process

Technology can make a significant contribution in achieving a linear learning process with above described

benefits. FeedPulse is an educational web application designed to make the described didactic insights actionable

in practice. Feedback will be part of learning because the student actively processes his feedback into the tool.

Therefore he is immediately confronted with his own behavior. This way, feedback becomes more meaningful.

The student commits himself to the feedback given, because he also wrote it down using his own words. There is

consensus on the feedback, because the teacher can check whether it is understood well and if necessary, respond.

FeedPulse is easy to use for teachers as well as students, because it is fully integrated with popular Learning

Management Systems (LMS, for example: Canvas, Moodle, Blackboard) through the open LTI standard.

Because the feedback and rating of multiple measurement points are all entered in the

tool, there will be an overview of the development of students over time. This makes it

easy for the teacher to monitor the learning process of students, and for the students

to gain more insight into their own development.

The rating by teachers at different point-measurements, using a smiley rating,

ensures that students are constantly triggered to improve their own performance

(see Figure 1).

Make

assessment part

of the learning

process. Use it to

learn.

Figure 1. Point-measurements rated with smileys in FeedPulse.


Case-study FeedPulse - Fontys University of Applied Sciences

Within Fontys University of Applied Sciences, FeedPulse is used to support the previously described didactic

approach. Teacher Lennart de Graaf is a strong advocate for the use of multiple measurement points including

feedback. According to him, longitudinal assessment ensures that students quickly gain insight into their areas

for improvement. This provides more control over the learning process, even for the teacher: “It takes less time to

understand which students need more attention. Now I can spend my time more efficiently.”

Lennart says that he experienced capturing feedback without the right tools as difficult. Where do you capture it?

How do you keep it available to both students and teachers? Is the feedback understood by the student as it was

intended by the teacher? And how do you get a quick overview of who are not keeping up? These questions play a

role in the transition to longitudinal assessment.

According to Lennart, FeedPulse makes it easier to work this way. He sees it as a tool to facilitate a pragmatic way

for short feedback iterations. The tool is intuitive to use so there is no long learning curve required. Lennart says

both the use of the system and the distilling of the information you need is simple. Lennart: “People understand the

intention at a glance, that is the power.”

“You could also implement longitudinal assessment without FeedPulse, but the reason it works now is that it takes

only limited time, and it provides a lot of insights.” Lennart says that in the past he would write his feedback on

paper. As a consequence, he had to search in different places for the feedback. With the dashboard functionality of

FeedPulse, he now finds everything in one overview. In addition, a Learning Management System is a logical place

to capture feedback. This is easily accessible by everyone and the place where teachers and students will search for

their information.

At Fontys, FeedPulse is used in different ways. For example, FeedPulse is used for projects to capture feedback on

group products. Every week students reflect on their progress together with the teacher. Students capture their

own feedback in the tool. The teacher uses a ‘smiley-rating’ to give students his view on the their performance.

Next to that it is also used in courses where students individually work on assignments. The way FeedPulse is used

is basically the same as for groups; the main goal is to gain understanding of how to improve both the product

and the process. This is done by engaging student and teacher in a conversation. The smiley-rating ensures

acknowledgment for a student’s performance, a kind of digital pat on the shoulder. Students who don’t perform as

well are warned on time by the use of FeedPulse. This prevents surprises for students and results in less discussion

at the end of a period. For example, now students will already know that it’s not going well by week four of their

course, instead of week ten. The students can adjust their own learning behavior and can use the feedback from the

teacher to reach a higher level.

Thanks to Lennart de Graaf, Fontys Hogeschool ICT

6 Drieam Whitepaper - Stimulating linear learning behavior - Practical application of technology


References

Berkel, H. van, Bax, A., & Joosten – ten Brinke, D. (Reds.). (2014). Toetsen in het hoger onderwijs. Houten: Bohn Stafleu

van Loghum.

Black, P. & Wiliam, D. (1998) Assessment and classroom learning. Assessment in Education 5(1), 7-74.

Bloom, B. S., Engelhart, M. D., Furst, E. J., Hill, W. H., & Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives:

The classification of educational goals. Handbook I: Cognitive domain. New York: David McKay Company.

Brown, S., & Glasner, A. (1999). Assessment matters in higher education: choosing and using diverse approaches.

Philadelphia: The Society for Research into Higher Education.

Drift, K. D. J. M. van der, & Vos, P. (1987). Anatomie van een leeromgeving. Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger.

Gibbs, G. (2010). Using assessment to support student learning. Leeds Metropolitan University.

Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77, 81-112.

Rust, C. (2002). The impact of assessment on student learning. How can the research literature practically help to

inform the development of departmental assessment strategies and learner-centred assessment practices? Active

Learning in Higher Education, 3(2), 145-158.

Sadler, R. D. (1989). Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems. Instructional Science, 18, 119-144.

Slaats, E. (2013). ICT Didactiek voor het Future School project (unpublished).

Sluijsmans, D., Joosten-ten Brinke, D., & Vleuten, C. van der (2013). Toetsen met meerwaarde: een reviewstudie naar de

effectieve kenmerken van formatief toetsen.

Vos, P. (1998). Over de ware aard van uitstellen. Tijdschrift voor Hoger Onderwijs, 16(4), 259-274.


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