Research Behind Summit Learning: Feedback

This is one of a four-part series on the research that supports and drives the Summit Learning program. The series focuses on Data-Driven Differentiation, Feedback, Student Motivation, and Mentoring.

Feedback is one of the most important tools in a teacher’s toolbox. 

When shared constructively, feedback helps students understand exactly where they are and how they can improve. It’s common practice for teachers to focus on giving their students specific, actionable feedback. But that can be difficult to do well on a regular basis without the proper tools and resources. Summit Learning’s platform enables teachers to use research-based best practices when giving feedback to students so they can continue their academic and personal growth. 

ACSD’s research by educator Grant Wiggins — Seven Keys to Effective Feedback — shows how more goal-oriented feedback is crucial to greater learning. Wiggins emphasizes the importance of feedback being goal-referenced; tangible and transparent; actionable; user-friendly; ongoing; timely; and consistent.

Our platform’s tools were designed to help teachers easily provide this type of effective feedback on a regular basis. Throughout the length of a project, teachers have multiple tools to help them frequently provide specific feedback on a student’s work. 

Let’s take a closer look at how effective feedback looks and works in our platform.

Figure 5: Formative Feedback Tools

In Figure 5, teachers can quickly indicate to students that they need to Revise, Review, or Continue their work on a checkpoint within the project. This is done with the colored circles in the upper-right of the image. This form of feedback is transparent to teachers, students, and parents, and is an easy way to understand student progress. 

Teachers are also able to point out areas of strength (the green highlight) and growth (the purple highlight) for students and focus on a specific Cognitive Skill. This ensures the feedback is goal-referenced to help the student meet or exceed grade-level skills. 

As students progress in the Summit Learning program, they often set their own goals for what level of Cognitive Skill they want to demonstrate. This helps ensure that all feedback is actionable because students have a clear understanding of what they need to do to advance to the next skill level. In addition to these features, teachers can also leave comments directly on a student’s work to provide additional context and more detailed feedback. 

All three approaches (action-oriented feedback, highlighting areas of strength and growth, and direct comments) are options that teachers can use on a regular basis. This helps feedback remain consistent for all students and provides a way for teachers to provide feedback in a timely manner.

About the author

Summit Learning
Summit Learning is a research–based approach to education designed to drive student engagement, meaningful learning, and strong student–teacher relationships that prepare students for life after graduation. Created by teachers with experience in diverse classrooms, Summit Learning is grounded in decades of research about how children learn. With Summit Learning, students gain mastery of core subjects like math, history, English, and science, while also carefully developing the skills and habits of lifelong learners. Summit Learning is independently led and operated by the nonprofit, Gradient Learning.