From the Field

Research Notes: How Automating Student Feedback Can Help Teachers Take Notice

Consistent and individualized feedback to teachers is essential for improving instruction and their students’ outcomes, though this can often be hard to accomplish given the intensive resources required.

A new working paper from the Annenberg Institute concludes that an automated feedback tool improves instructors’ uptake of student contributions by 16 percent and presents evidence that suggests the tool also improves students’ satisfaction with the course and assignment completion.

The research team—Dorottya Demszky, Dan Jurafsky, and Chris Piech from Stanford University, along with Jing Liu from the University of Maryland, and Heather C. Hill from Harvard University—uses data from an online computer science course offered by Stanford, Code in Place, to evaluate the effectiveness of the feedback tool the researchers created.

The feedback tool gives teachers feedback on their uptake of student contributions, a high-leverage teaching practice that supports instruction and makes students feel heard.

The research team split instructors randomly into two groups–one of which received more frequent communication concerning the feedback of their students. The results showed that more frequent email reminders about student feedback increased the likelihood that instructors would check the feedback and subsequently incorporate it into their instruction. The use of the automated feedback also improved student satisfaction with the course and assignment completion because of the incorporated feedback.

This research adds two key contributions to this field, namely that it is one of the first to evaluate the impact of automated feedback and that the tool is reproducible and scalable. The research reinforces the potential of feedback tools to enhance existing efforts in teachers’ professional development and is increasingly prevalent with the increase in online learning.

Read the Research

Can Automated Feedback Improve Teachers’ Uptake of Student Ideas?

January 2023

Dorottya Demszky, Stanford University; Jing Liu, University of Maryland; Heather C. Hill, Harvard University; Dan Jurafsky, Stanford University; Chris Piech, Stanford University