Feedback for excellent students

I’ve heard/read several things recently about the fact that excellent students tend to get less feedback than others. This is perhaps related to the fact that (anecdotally at least) teachers sometimes ignore excellent students – they’ll do OK whatever, so more effort is put in to helping the others. That seems wrong to me; I feel that education (and feedback) should be about helping individuals to achieve their best, so able students should be stretched. In feedback on written work, able students should be given comments that may not be appropriate for others, perhaps a suggestion for extra reading, a link to related literature etc. etc.

But what are the implications for e-assessment? Clearly students who get e-assessment questions right should be told that they have done well (obvious, but not always done, and we don’t want to patronise). But is that enough? Adaptive questions may also have a part to play; there seems little point in expecting a student to work through a tranch of questions which are trivially easy for them. Having said that, some students may like the reinforcement of realising that they can do well on these questions, and the revision of topics which (for them) are straightforward. And can we be sure that these students will find the ‘difficult’ adaptive questions more challenging than the easy ones?  Has anyone done any work in this area?

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2 Responses to Feedback for excellent students

  1. Hi Sally, I haven’t done work in this area. Not yet. I was wondering though: maybe it is possible to give additional feedback based on the number of questions in a row that a student answers correctly on a subject?

    Something like “You got all questions on the subject Sandstone right. Since you have proved your proficiency on this subject, you may find it challenging to study the next level subject Sandstone Part 2. See for more information.”

    Or maybe you can give feedback messages based on streaks of correct answers, no matter the subject. The Practice section of Khan Academy has a feedback mechanism like this. You must answer ten questions in a row correctly to prove your proficiency on a subject and you can earn stars and “badges” by doing so (game mechanics). That last part may not be necessary with your target audience of course, but it works great for younger learners.

  2. Sally Jordan says:

    Apologies for the delay in replying Sander.

    We sometimes give feedback on performance on a whole quiz, especially on our diagnostic quiizes e.g. ‘Are you ready for S104?’ ( but we haven’t done anything based on the number of questions in a row that a student gets right. I think this approach could be very useful.


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