How immediate feedback motivates both students and educators

Digital tools can give teachers on-the-spot feedback from students and students access to their results and progress in real time. László Tornóci looks at a changing landscape from both sides

László Tornóci 's avatar
17 Apr 2023
bookmark plus
  • Top of page
  • Main text
  • More on this topic
two mobile phones showing images of hands, digital communication
image credit: iStock.

Created in partnership with

Created in partnership with

Semmelweis University   square logo

You may also like

Establishing a robust quality framework for online education
How to establish a robust quality framework to ensure top quality remote teaching

Digitalisation is gaining ground in all aspects of our lives, and we can be sure it will fundamentally reshape classical university education as well. We need to be cautious, though; new technology will not automatically solve the problems of education, but it can provide new ways of addressing them.

The digital transformation has benefits for students and educators. In the following, I would like to offer ideas from both sides of teaching, without claiming to be exhaustive.

1. Educators can benefit from immediate feedback

From the educators’ point of view, motivation is important not only in keeping them interested in building their own academic careers but also in being able to effectively pass on their knowledge to the next generation and achieve teaching excellence. Continuous monitoring of teaching quality through appropriate methods can give new impetus to teachers, motivating them to improve and to apply the most effective pedagogical and digital methods for the curriculum.

Of course, changing the interests of instructors is a financial and political issue, but it also requires a proper quality-management system and, closely linked to this, some kind of metric to help distinguish between good and bad teachers. The student review of teaching work, which is a legal requirement in Hungarian universities, for example, points in this direction. However, the experience of recent years has highlighted several problems: results of these reviews are often out of date by the time they are available, students complain that nothing changes if they speak out against something, and lecturers complain that students who were not even there can give their opinions on a lecture.

Allowing students to evaluate a lecture or a seminar immediately after the class via their mobile phones addresses this issue. “On-the-spot” feedback makes the data more credible and speeds up the whole process. Semmelweis University uses a dedicated website for this purpose. The database can be accessed with different privileges: everyone can see their own data and heads of departments can see the data of their departments. Results are available in real time, but more detailed offline analysis is also possible. The move to electronic data management gives the university the opportunity to put in place a robust and consistent quality-management system that can improve the quality of education, not just in words but in reality.

In addition to quality management, continuous pedagogical training of teachers is also important. To this end, Semmelweis University has set up the Centre for Educational Development, Methodology and Organisation to support teaching. It offers teachers training with the help of hybrid methods and also creates active online teaching communities, where teachers can share their methodological or technical experience of online teaching. These cross-faculty teaching communities, which themselves use digital techniques (such as Zoom and video-sharing platform Kaltura) can make an important contribution to the spread of modern teaching concepts and digital teaching methods on campus.

2. Students’ perspectives on digital education

During their university years, students not only lose a significant amount of the initial enthusiasm that got them into higher education, but research also shows that between 25 per cent and 55 per cent of medical students show signs of psychological burnout. This complex problem affects medical schools in general, and internationally, for several reasons. Students are overwhelmed, feeling they have to learn a lot of unnecessary things that they will never apply. They have little incentive to study during the semester and for many of them it is left to the exam period. So, instead of being a pleasure, studying is a source of anxiety and stress. In addition, they often feel that their exam results are not commensurate with the work they have put into studying.

A solution to alleviate these problems could be to use the modern student feedback system described above and to take its results into account in the design of course requirements. Students should be motivated to study regularly, not by dreaded midterm demonstrations but by interesting, attractive, colourful exercises week after week (for example, by creating an interactive digital curriculum that is attractive to students). This will give them more pleasure and a sense of achievement. It can also be an effective way of learning the material, and one that might make them give up their performance-oriented attitude.

A digital curriculum is perfectly feasible through e-learning systems such as Moodle. Of particular note is the use of the H5P technology, which, based on the HTML5/Javascript web standards, allows the creation of a wide variety of highly attractive interactive learning materials in a simple way on a web interface. The Moodle e-learning system is fully integrated with H5P technology. These systems also keep a record of what student has completed which assignment and with what result. It is important to make students feel that learning is worthwhile and that the work they put into it will pay off.

The digital transformation of education is a process that is happening now. E-learning systems open up opportunities for us that, if used wisely, can make teaching and learning more enjoyable and effective. To take advantage of these new opportunities efficiently, a lot of work has to be done. We need to be flexible, to be able to break free from our ingrained habits, to learn and use new techniques and pedagogical methods. It is almost certain that digitalisation will also significantly change the curriculum and can reshuffle the rankings in higher education. Universities that heed the call of new times earlier will have much to gain.

László Tornóci is a lecturer in the Institute of Pathophysiology and IT manager of the Centre for E-learning and Digital Content Development at Semmelweis University, Hungary.

If you would like advice and insight from academics and university staff delivered direct to your inbox each week, sign up for the Campus newsletter.


You may also like

sticky sign up

Register for free

and unlock a host of features on the THE site