Process Feedback, Self-Regulated Learning and the Evolution of Learning Skills

Research indicates that learners are rather poor keepers of records about how they study. Also, learners aren’t very accurate when they judge how well they’ve learned material that they’ve studied. As a result, becoming a better learner proves very difficult. It’s not often clear enough whether studying is successful (before a test, anyway). And, when learning is successful, it’s not clear enough what studying activities should be repeated.

Principal Investigator: Dr. Phil Winne
Co-Investigator: Dr. John Nesbit
Funding Agency: SSHRC

What's Proposed

The Process Feedback Project is investigating ways these problems might be fixed by tracking how learners study, and feeding back information – feedback about their studying processes – that helps them carry out a program of research about how to improve learning skills that is tailored to each learner’s individual needs.

How This Project is Carried Out

The first step in this project will extend our team’s nStudy software (see the Self-Regulated Learning and Learning Technologies project). We’ll develop new software tools for analyzing the detailed records that nStudy gathers about how a learner studies. Then, we’ll develop a variety of displays that "picture" studying activities – information visualizations – and research ways we can improve these so learners really understand how they study when they are provided process feedback.

The next step is to research a variety of questions about how learners use and benefit when they are provided process feedback. Examples include: Who should choose the information provided in process feedback: the software or each learner? When is it best to provide process feedback – before studying begins, interactively as learner is studying, and/or at the end of studying sessions? How can process feedback be formatted to provide a boost to a learner’s motivation?

Why This Project Matters

In today’s knowledge economy and our unstoppably expanding world of practically instantly accessible information, people need highly honed and adaptable skills for learning. Because learning skills are rarely directly taught in schools and other educational settings, most people need to work on their own to improve learning skills. As our research progresses, we hope to distribute a software tool that anyone can use to work on improving learning skills.

How This Project is Put Into Action

We are eager to collaborate with other researchers and with learners and their instructors to research how process feedback can help learners develop learning skills. We require of collaborators a very modest financial contribution to offset our real costs for computer hardware, software maintenance and upgrading, and system administration. Contact Phil Winne for more details.