Asee peer logo

Using Rapid Feedback To Enhance Student Learning

Download Paper |


2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Use of Technology to Improve Teaching and Learning

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1402.1 - 11.1402.9



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


John Chen Rowan University

visit author page

John Chen is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He has been a faculty member since 1994, when he began his career as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at North Carolina A&T State University. He joined Rowan University in his current position in 1998. He is an active member of ASEE and is currently the Chair of the Mechanical Engineering Division.

visit author page


Jennifer Kadlowec Rowan University

visit author page

Jennifer Kadlowec is an Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Rowan University. She began as an Assistant Professor in 1999 after she received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and a B.S. in Physics from Baldwin-Wallace College. She has been a member of ASEE since 1998 and regularly presents at the ASEE annual conference.

visit author page


Dexter Whittinghill Rowan University

visit author page

Dexter Whittinghill is an Associate Professor in the Mathematics Department at Rowan University. He is in his ninth year at Rowan, and has been a professor since 1984 when he received a Ph.D. in Statistics from Purdue University. His research interests have migrated from the design of experiments to statistical education, and for many years he has enjoyed consulting with fellow faculty. He has held office in statistical education groups within the statistics and mathematics community.

visit author page

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Using Rapid Feedback to Enhance Student Learning


In this project our goal is to improve student learning in foundation engineering courses. Our hypothesis is that learning is improved by providing rapid feedback to students of their understanding of key concepts and skills being taught. This hypothesis was tested through experiments in which student performance on quizzes was measured after classes in which they were provided rapid feedback or not. The feedback system acts as a catalyst to encourage students, working in pairs, to assist each other in correcting misconceptions or deepening each other’s understanding of the concept or skill at hand. The feedback is enabled through wireless- networked handheld computers (PDAs).

In each of the past two years, the feedback system was implemented in two sections of Statics. One author taught both sections of the course in order to minimize any differences in teaching style and in the content or pace of coverage. A crossover design of experiment was used. In such experiments, each student acted as his or her own control to eliminate the non-correctible confounders. Student performance on a quiz at the end of each treatment period provided the data for comparison between the two groups. A general linear statistical model was used to analyze the treatment factor while controlling for the other ‘nuisance’ or confounding factors.

Our findings from Fall 2004, when both sections were provided rapid feedback and the PDA- enabled feedback system was compared with using flashcards for feedback, showed that there was no significant difference between student performance. In Fall 2005, we compared the PDA-enabled feedback system with having no feedback. We found a significant and positive effect when students received feedback. This is a noteworthy finding in that it confirms the value of providing rapid feedback and the usefulness of the currently popular ‘clickers’ that many professors are employing to promote classroom interaction.


Core engineering courses, such as Statics, are comprised of key concepts and skills that students need to master in order to succeed in follow-on courses. Students must comprehend these concepts at sufficient depth (as opposed to rote memorization of procedure) and transfer this understanding to other courses and contexts. In this multiyear project, our hypothesis is that such learning is facilitated in an active, peer-assisted environment in which the students are provided frequent and rapid feedback of their state of learning.

Background and Motivation

Providing feedback to students of their current level of understanding of concepts is critical for effective learning. It is also important for the professor. This feedback is typically realized through homework sets, quizzes and tests. All of these techniques, however, suffer the faults of being too slow, too late, and too tedious to apply frequently. Freeman and McKenzie 1 discuss several issues that inhibit better student learning in higher education. For students, there is a lack of individual feedback on learning; few opportunities for dialogue to improve learning; and a feeling that the subject is impersonal. From the faculty members’ perspective, the difficulties lie

Chen, J., & Kadlowec, J., & Whittinghill, D. (2006, June), Using Rapid Feedback To Enhance Student Learning Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1093

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015