The goal of ManyClasses 1 is to examine how the timing of feedback affects student learning in authentic college courses over the course of a single semester. Specifically, we will compare the effects of immediate feedback (i.e. feedback provided right after an assignment is submitted) versus delayed feedback (i.e. feedback provided several days after an assignment is submitted) on course-relevant student learning outcomes. Additionally, given the fact that students automatically see immediate feedback but not delayed feedback, another factor we will examine is whether students are incentivized to view the feedback provided.
We chose to investigate the timing of feedback in ManyClasses 1 for several reasons:
- The provision of feedback on course assignments is highly recommended for improving student learning (e.g., American Psychological Association, Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education, 2015; Benassi, Overson, & Hakala, 2014; Booth, McGinn, Barbieri, Begolli, Chang, Miller-Cotto, Young, & Davenport, 2017; Pashler et al., 2007),
- The provision of feedback is a common component of most classes and will not represent a deviation from normal practice,
- Instructors must decide when to provide feedback to their students and they need evidence-based recommendations to inform that decision, and
- There are recent claims that delayed feedback is more effective than immediate feedback (see Butler & Woodward, 2018), which contrasts with current recommendations to educators to provide feedback immediately.
The goal is to have approximately 40 instructors apply to have their students participate representing a wide range of different classes, topics, formats, disciplines, and student populations. These instructors will be any college instructor teaching an undergraduate course in Fall 2019 that meets the following criteria: uses Canvas as the course’s online learning management system, includes at least two assignments on different topics that can be administered on Canvas and can be objectively scored, includes a measure of student learning that is administered after the assignments and targets content from the assignments, and has a projected enrollment of at least 30 undergraduate students.
Over the course of the semester, students will engage in the normal conduct of the college course. Students will complete at least two assignments on which feedback is provided. Assignments will be randomly assigned to receive immediate feedback or delayed feedback. For example, for some students, on their first assignment they will receive immediate feedback and on their second assignment they will receive delayed feedback. For other students, it will be the reverse. Additionally, classes will be randomly assigned to incentivize or not incentivize students to access the feedback. For example, in some classes, students will have an incentive to look over their feedback (e.g. earn two additional points). In other classes, students will not. Thus, there will be slight variations in the timing of the feedback and in the incentive to view that feedback. However, within a class, all students will be exposed to the same variations. The researchers will then analyze the data to assess the generalizable effect of immediate feedback on course-relevant learning outcomes across many classes.
In sum, ManyClasses 1 is an ambitious research project that seeks to bring researchers and educators together to better understand how the timing of feedback and the incentives to look at the feedback influence student learning.