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10th February 2019

Informational Feedback to Learn Chemistry

Informational Feedback to Learn Chemistry

We’ve come to strategy #4 from Dr Lee’s book, Internal Drive Theory, Motivate Your Child to Want to Study. If you haven’t read the previous three strategies, start here.

This ranking of feedback is based on my own personal opinion, not from the book. The idea is, we need to get a good balance between giving detailed feedback and time spent doing it. When i was a school teacher, i fluctuate between level 1 and 2, depending on how much time i had to mark the scripts. Not surprisingly, students were unable to improve much based on level 1 marking. With level 2 marking, they only know that some keywords are missing. Hardly actionable. When i observe the teachers who took time to give detailed feedback, most of the time, their students were able to realise their misconceptions and improve. 

Level 0 – No feedback 
Level 1 – Right or Wrong. Tick or Cross. Ok or Not Ok. (Good enough for some calculation questions)
Level 2 – Tick or Cross with some comments. “Missing key words”, “Wrong Spelling” etc.
Level 3 – Tick or Cross with detailed feedback. “Dipole moment on wrong atoms, missing hydrogen bond label”

People tend to get discouraged if no feedback was given over a long period of time. We need to shorten the feedback loop since children tend to get discouraged easily.  In short, we give our child/students a little dose of emotional boost to keep them going. 

What to Watch Out For

  1. The right difficulty level. Need to be careful to give them tasks which is attainable but requires a stretch of their abilities. We all have a circle of competence, learning takes place just outside of this circle. We muster our available resources and wits to tackle the problem. And in the process of solving the challenge, we enlarge our circle. The problem comes if the task is WAY out of our league, more so for children/students. When they see no way to tackle the task, they get discouraged and give up immediately without trying.
  2. Language feedback. In qualitative answers for ‘A’ Level JC H2 Chemistry, students are expected to use scientific terms to explain chemical phenomenon. Something which they could skim over in ‘O’ Level Chemistry. They could still get some credits for using layman’s terms to describe chemical processes. However, at ‘A’ Level Chemistry, they will be penalized quite a bit. I would give them weekly mini-quiz on standard ‘A’ Level descriptive questions and mark their work. This allows me to quickly see if they are able to use scientific terms correctly.

Dr Lee also demonstrates the use of a marking scheme (like a rubrics/scoring guide) in increasing detail as the child/student gets more advanced. Rubrics would have to be customized to the child/student’s level. Sometimes, a negative rubric could be used to call attention to and weed out some undesirable traits.

That’s all for Information Feedback to Learn Chemistry! Go to Strategy #5 RIVR and RIVP!

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