Exploring Students’ Perceived Needs and Ideas About Feedback in Online Learning Environments: Implications for Digital Design

Exploring Students’ Perceived Needs and Ideas About Feedback in Online Learning Environments: Implications for Digital Design

Lisa A. Ferrara, Kirsten R. Butcher
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/ijcbpl.2012040104
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Although research has found that students value timely, formative feedback, it’s unknown how students’ prior experiences influence their expectations for feedback in online learning environments. Two workshops were conducted to examine college students’ perceptions and preferences about feedback during traditional and online instruction. Survey, short response, and interview questions were used to collect students’ self-reported experiences in receiving and using feedback with a variety of work products (e.g., essays) in traditional academic experiences, examining their self-reported challenges and needs during online learning tasks. Students collaboratively worked to design storyboards that depicted optimal feedback environments for an online instructional system. Results show that students’ (positive and negative) prior experiences with traditional feedback guide their perceived preferences regarding online feedback. Students were aware of many specific challenges that they faced during online research, and expressed a strong desire for technologies that could support identification of valid and relevant online content. Self-reported, online feedback needs were consistent with successful features of digital learning environments that have been shown to support deeper learning. This research suggests that students’ perceived needs and preferences have a strong impact on the degree to which they are likely to value and utilize feedback in online learning environments.
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Online learning tasks are an important example of self-regulated learning tasks, where learners must independently regulate decisions, strategies, processes, and evaluation involved in learning from instructional materials (Williams, 1996). Because self-regulated learning involves a complex interaction between students’ personal beliefs, individual behavior, and environmental factors such as instructional context and learning materials (Pintrich, 2000; Tseng & Kuo, 2010; Zimmerman & Schunk, 2001), it has been suggested that research on feedback and self-regulated learning should be tightly coupled. Even incidentally-provided feedback can influence self-regulated learning processes such as calibration and monitoring (Butler & Winne, 1995). Understanding students’ expectations and values regarding feedback has important implications for online learning, since students deploy a variety of individual perceptions (e.g., self-beliefs), processes (e.g., comprehension strategies), and behaviors (e.g., digital interactions) to construct their own learning during self-directed tasks (Winne & Perry, 2000; Zimmerman & Schunk, 2001).

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