What Is Holistic Feedback In Online Learning

What is the non-standard feedback in online classes? If you’re in a holistic design program, you’re in luck, says Ethel Speight.

Holistic feedback in online learning is nothing new. The idea of early behavior analysis during the first step in learning has been the go-to since the days of matriculation. However, what was once thought of as system-level behavior adjustment is now being observed more and more across the educational landscape, as schools realize the value of two-way communication.

Before electronic exchanges evolved, teachers drilled students into right thinking patterns based on previous experience in one of two ways: immediate or ongoing behavioral evaluation. The inherent friction of building a lifelong relationship in that instant gratification and ongoing mentoring method is detrimental to most, such as in the SMART Schools program, which outlines a plan of development of the student and teacher, as defined by them. Thus, while the school schedules behavior correction, parents/guardians are left in the gap. But even that method has risks, as it is often based on conformity and contextual assessment.

Although crucial to previous methods of response, holistic feedback is coming into its own in the digital realm. A solution exists for teachers and students today, and it is nothing short of revolutionary for educators looking to feel more connected with the other person’s learning and expression, yet stay closer to the model of behavior that keeps students in school and attentive.

Automatic communication can teach thousands, sometimes millions, and change everything.

This is exactly what Paulo Santos, co-author of this thesis, has seen in his more than 25 years in education. He is also a practitioner in SMART Schools, known for exceeding retention rates in Houston.

“Pedagogy in school is becoming more holistic. There are more opinions that fill in the gaps, resulting in more actionable feedback than ever before,” Santos explained. “Technology allows for continuous reinforcement of learning and provides deep attention to immediate behavior, which creates more trust and rapport in a learning context. For some form of feedback, whether immediate or continuous, it has been proven to be invaluable in producing insight, in creating common understanding, and in raising self-efficacy in the eyes of both the learner and the learner’s teacher.”

A teacher who is constantly in touch with the student from start to finish to keep them on the right track is drawing out higher scores on standardized tests. In surveys and focus groups, the vast majority of educators say that having access to greater post-class feedback makes a meaningful difference in their students’ overall achievement, and in turn, the school’s.

A study in Gwynedd, where 82% of educators in six primary schools took part in their district’s launch of the Global Student Support System–Leveraging Online and Interpersonal Response to Student Learning needs, showed that all students who participated in feedback activities with their teachers scored significantly higher on annual standardized tests than a control group. The evidence has been confirmed in a Boston study which analyzed standardized reading scores among a group of Boston public school students in English for Grades 3 and 6. Eighty-two percent of all students in that study scored higher in language proficiency on standardized tests when compared to students who had not been in the program. The observed differences, however, were not found among those students who interacted with either regular or online feedback systems. This serves as proof that the potential to positively impact a student’s learning was not limited to the group that took part in the program.

“I believe that contextual, ongoing feedback is most effective, both because the peer system presents the most direct, easy-to-interpret channel for behaviors that raise questions,” Santos states. “However, our findings serve as a reminder that research-proven pedagogy still matters and that there are opportunities to use technology to its fullest potential.”

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