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Multisource feedback for STEM students improves academic performance

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Assessment of Student Learning 2

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.920.1 - 23.920.24



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Paper Authors


Jesse Pappas James Madison University

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Jesse Pappas studied self-insight, intentional self-development, and the role of emotion in self-perception at the University of Virginia, where he received a Ph.D. in social psychology. His dissertation project involved adapting established professional development tools to facilitate the personal and academic success of college students and others. As a research fellow in the School of Engineering at James Madison University, Jesse currently leads efforts to equip future scientists and engineers with the personal and social savvy they need to thrive in today’s complex academic and professional environments.

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Multisource feedback for STEM students enhances engagement and academic performance   Motivating  students  to  engage  in  course  material  and  perform  to  their  potential  is  among  our  most  urgent  challenges  As  STEM  educators.    Professional  organizations  commonly  seek  to  motivate  employees  by  providing  performance  feedback  from  a  diverse  group  of  raters  that  may  include  supervisors,  peers,  subordinates,  clients,  and  others.    According  to  some  sources,  at  least  90%  of  Fortune  1000  companies  currently  use  multisource  (i.e.  360-­‐degree)  feedback  techniques  to  facilitate  professional  development  and  increase  productivity.    In  academic  contexts,  relatively  minimal,  student-­‐focused  interventions  have  been  shown  to  significantly  improve  academic  performance  under  numerous  experimental  conditions.       With  support  from  National  Science  Foundation  grant  EEC  #1158728,  the  present  study  used  a  newly  developed  online  delivery  system  to  provide  personalized  multisource  feedback  to  a  sample  of  206  undergraduate  STEM  students  in  a  science  and  technology  problem-­‐solving  course.    Personality  Pad  is  an  automated  multisource  feedback  platform  that  allows  users  to  generate  their  own  multisource  feedback.    This  process  incorporates  prevalent  360-­‐degree  feedback  strategies  and  “best  practices”  for  effective  feedback  administration.    At,  participants  register  a  dedicated  WordPress  dashboard,  which  displays  feedback  generated  by  the  participant  and  by  participant-­‐selected  informants,  as  well  as  normative  information  for  comparison,  interpretation  tools,  and  detailed  instructions.    The  platform  integrates  multisource  feedback  tools  into  a  WordPress  website  using  the  advanced  functionality  of  Qualtrics,  an  advanced  online  survey  tool.       A  longitudinal  experiment  within  an  interventional  framework  evaluated  the  hypothesis  that  multisource  conscientiousness  feedback  would  provoke  goal-­‐directedness  and  motivate  adaptive  action.    Compared  to  those  who  received  self-­‐generated  feedback  or  no  feedback,  those  who  received  conscientiousness  feedback  from  multiple  sources  –  including  friends,  parents,  peers,  and  teachers  –  participated  more  in  class  and  submitted  higher  quality  homework  assignments  afterward,  leading  to  significantly  higher  final  course  grades  (M  =  83.90)  compared  to  a  control  group  in  the  same  class    (M  =  78.79).    A  structural  analysis  of  relationships  among  key  variables  indicates  that  post-­‐intervention  goal-­‐directedness  plays  a  critical  intermediary  role  between  receiving  personalized  feedback  and  achieving  subsequent  self-­‐development  goals.    Implications  are  discussed  from  academic  and  social  perspectives.                

Pappas, J. (2013, June), Multisource feedback for STEM students improves academic performance Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22305

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