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Learning through feedback loop metaphors

Jill Willis

The metaphor of a feedback loop underpinned a significant curriculum change in a first year teacher-education unit. Assessment for Learning (AfL) practices such as discussing examples of previous student work and giving peer feedback were embedded within the curriculum design. The metaphor of a feedback loop connected these AfL practices into a purposeful process that informed student learning as well as tutor learning about student understanding, that then informed the next teaching episode. Student teachers (n=350) in twelve tutorial groups taught by eight university tutors were able to develop a shared understanding of quality performances before completing each assessment task. As well as providing ongoing insights to improve teaching, data from this action research project enabled the participant tutor-researchers to interrogate the concept of feedback loops. The researchers theorised sociocultural feedback loops as emergent, entangled and dynamic moves in a dance of knowing during which participants negotiated meaning and identities of capability.

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