Providing high-quality, affordable, and enjoyable online learning opportunities for adults has never been more competitive or important. Effectively designed courses provide evidence of learning outcome mastery, efficient designs lead to quick results, and appealing designs are enjoyed by the learner. One challenge of addressing these tensions is that most higher education institutions lack the kinds of metrics that would allow leaders to make timely decisions related to curriculum and instruction. What if real-time data could provide proactive insight into a student’s experiences? Are there online-learner behaviors (rather than algorithms, which can be biased) that leaders could observe as early-warning signs of problems with the effectiveness of the instruction, the efficiency of the design, or the overall appeal of the courses? What are the key ingredients of learning, and could they be measured and monitored on a large scale?
Feedback is a powerful construct in the design of effective instruction, so it seems logical that feedback-delivery technology could be leveraged to increase efficiency by delivering immediate feedback, improve quality by delivering accurate feedback, and maintain appeal by being user-friendly. Many of these points of data are at least partially tracked by today’s learning management systems (LMSs) and adaptive learning courseware technologies.
This hypothesis was tested in a correlational study in which I compared the feedback experiences of learners with their achievement on standardized exams. Secondly, I compared the feedback experiences of learners with their satisfaction as reported on end-of-course surveys. To evaluate the learners’ feedback experiences, I gathered data from the last three online courses they took before completing their academic degree programs. I wanted to learn about the cumulative effects on a student who received, for example, great feedback from Professor A but less effective feedback from Professors B and C. At the same time, would learners who simultaneously had three great experiences with feedback be more likely to learn and enjoy their learning? The research question guiding my work is this: Are there correlations between learner achievement, learner satisfaction, and several measurable dimensions of the learner’s experience with feedback?