FeedBACK is the best friend of anyone looking to develop their ability to PERFORM.
We learn in many different ways and to individual schedules, depending on a variety of factors. Yet if there is one constant, it is the presence – the availability – of feedBACK. Being able to appreciate that we are on the right track, progressing along that track, and nearing or achieving a goal is essential to developing capability and the ability to PERFORM.
As such, feedBACK is an educational concept and also much more widely applicable as well. Education serves to develop knowledge and skills. The history of educational endeavour has evidenced constant searches for the best ways to teach and to learn. And an important skill for teachers is the provision of appropriate feedBACK. And an important skill for learners – students – is how to receive, use, and leverage feedBACK. Yet very many of us ‘students’ fail to learn this skill, well enough or …
Tests and exams are perhaps the most identifiable sources of feedBACK to students. And while tests and exams are not the only sources – and possibly not even the most important sources – of feedBACK, the information from tests and exams can be very instructive.
Assessment has traditionally been divided into two segments – formative and summative. Formative assessment is a potent source of feedBACK to learning as it takes place, helping to track learning and the adjustments needed to progress learning in targeted ways. Summative assessment happens at the end of a course and, while still offering a valuable reflection of achievement, typically would not be expected to influence teaching and learning as they happen – simply a matter of timing.
The advent of smartphones and wearable devices has brought data – feedBACK – to new levels of relevance and use in many areas of our lives. We can track our activity, our fitness, our health – effectively, our process and our outcomes. And very good data it is too!
Students preparing for tests and exams can take lessons from their own activity and fitness tracking. Or from the ‘analytics’ now routinely part of sports coverage on the TV – in sports such as football, tennis, and golf. The information gained from the process of learning has great ‘formative’ value, if it is looked for, looked at, and used.
There are ready and rich sources of ‘data’ available: from teachers, from fellow students, from study groups, from parents (even from parents), and from perhaps the most important cog in the process – the student her-/him-self. The ability to appreciate, develop, and use feedBACK loops is a very practical skill and one that is very learnable. Very, very learnable!
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