Saturday, 20 September 2014

Do we value instant gratification or instant feedback?

Today someone mentioned on @Voxer how we could get #SatChatOc trending worldwide. I then realised it had been months since I had checked if #SatChatOc was trending. I am a little reluctant to admit that I previously used Twitter Trends for feedback. It was that instant grade or dare I say it...instant gratification. While it reflects the popularity of the chat, the result occurs after the event. Similar to that of summative assessment, there is nothing to do to change the result. I had no responsibility to do anything more because it was all too late. This instant result or gratification is similar to that requested by some students and parents. You probably know this all too well-a grade such as a pass, fail, or letter. The assessment that provides a score or ranking. And there is also the competitive component. Twitter provides the identify of your competitors (sports, politics, celebrities etc) which reminds me of when students ask each other, "What did you get?" 

So why haven’t I been checking the trends on Twitter lately? Honestly, I no longer see the benefit and I am looking for more. Twitter trends will not indicate the effectiveness of #SatChatOc. It will not highlight the areas that need improvement. It will not tell me if an educator utilised the resources, questioned their practice or benefitted professionally from the chat. I am an insatiable learner who has connected with many insightful educators through #SatChatOc. I appreciate the feedback received from those who inspire, question and challenge me. Some of their suggestions that have resulted in action are-
  • give questions prior to the chat
  • have one person post questions
  • to use pictures for #SatChatOc questions
Ok, I admit, I slipped up! I usually practise what I ask of my students. Don't just look at the grade or ranking but at the comments that will help you reflect and learn while developing metacognitive knowledge. I ask my students to take ownership of their learning, reflect, ask questions, seek feedback and request assistance when necessary. The model below illustrates how to create deep learning and why reflection and feedback shape & develop our growth. It presents a challenge to teachers to move beyond shallow learning (rote learning or teaching to the test) to encourage a deeper and more critical learning process. Single loop learning is important, but not enough for complicated or complex problems. Double loop learning involves a reflection on, and questioning of, the processes of the learning (seeking more efficient ways of achieving the task). This type of learning requires some creatively and 'outside the box' thinking. Triple loop learning involves 'learning how to learn' by reflecting on how we learn. Being profound and asking why, these may be seen as metaphors for life.


With more detail, this table clearly indicates the single loop as the 'what', the double loop as the 'how' and the triple loop as the 'why'. Although summative assessment is essential for report cards, formative assessment is crucial. Formative assessment drives my instruction. Critique and feedback gives the student a goal or guide for their future learning. It is hard to dispute the effectiveness of critique and feedback when you watch the following clip.

Critique and feedback - the story of Austin's butterfly - Ron Berger
According to Wiliam, "attention to the use of assessment to inform instruction, particularly at the classroom level, in many cases effectively doubled the speed of student learning" (pg. 882).
While Summative assessment or Assessment of Learning may appear to be that end point or final race, learning is ongoing. So when I return to school, I will share with my students what I discovered about myself as a learner. How I sought feedback for a quick evaluation and gratification. Feedback must encourage reflection, growth and further learning. Connecting with my students as a learner typically creates an engaging conversation. I will continue to provide my students with the instant feedback they so deserve. One-on-one conferences are so effective and it can take only a few minutes. I will teach and model how to reflect, learn and develop the skills of a lifelong learner. Feedback is only useful if given and acted upon promptly and is essential when determining goals for future learning.
“find out where learners are in their learning, find out where they are going, and find out how to get there” (Wiliam, 2011, p. 1019).



  1. Hello Andrea,

    A wonderful reflection which reminded me of a recent conversation with @melcramp. Mel is a talented educator who "just gets it." This year, as Pedagogy Leader, Mel has led the pursuing of our 2014 collective staff goal of "developing a clearer, more consistent understanding of Inquiry Learning". One major outcome is the need for a common language and common approach to formative assessment. We understand its importance, have talked about it for quite a few years, but are yet to give it the priority it deserves. Your blog post is an other affirmation that we are on the right path.


  2. I love Austin's butterfly! I showed it to my team last year but need to revisit with new staff. And I love the graphics you included. Great post.

  3. Andrea
    From one insatiable learner to another it is basic human nature to seek instant gratification. The hard part is going further and deeper to allow students to genuinely evaluate their own learning. I use formative assessment to drive my teaching. I love the simple explanation of the triple loop learning. Thank you for an insightful and thought provoking post.

  4. It's the same reason I don't measure people in my PLN by how many twitter followers they have. I find the value in how they are prepared to share their opinions and listen to others ideas before dismissing it.
    Another great post Andrea!