Lesson Study in Economics: Efficient and Effective Feedback - A Lesson Study Investigating Students' Responses and Follow-up to Feedback on their Writing

Authors: Brooks, Taggert; Knowles, Elizabeth; Kopp, Bryan; Murray, James; Strangman, Laurie
Discipline / Field: Business Communications, Research Methods
Submission Date: August 1, 2013 

Abstract: We developed and implemented a systematic and efficient approach to give feedback on student writing in a business research methods course. In this lesson study, we investigate how students respond to this feedback. The lesson takes place at mid-semester, after students have spent some time developing their research question and reviewing the literature. At the time of our classroom observation, the students receive the first feedback of their first draft of the introduction section of their final paper. We observed their conversations upon receiving the feedback and noted how it influenced their revision plans. We conducted our lesson study over two semesters, Fall 2012 and Spring 2013.

To make the process of giving feedback efficient, we developed a database of comments on student writing which were specific to the objectives of the assignment. There are seven goals of the introduction assignment, some of which are specific to an introduction section of a research project, such as “State the purpose of your research project”, and some of which are very general, such as “Communicate in a clear and meaningful way.” Using these goals as the traits for a rubric, we developed a set of feedback comments that align to each goal suggesting improvements or noting when the objective was met. While the comments are specific enough to address specific goals of the assignment and common writing problems, they were general enough so that they could be used for any student’s writing for the given assignment. We use text expanding software (Breevy for Windows, TextExpander for Mac) that allows the instructor to quickly populate a letter to each student with a set of comments appropriate for their submission.

Our classroom investigation revealed some challenges in giving feedback that effectively guides students on how to revise their work. One significant example concerns how students communicate purpose. While students may have attempted to communicate a specific purpose in one part of their introduction, often the introduction as a whole lacked focus. Even after receiving feedback, students were largely unable to recognize this problem or understand what kind of revision was appropriate.

Efficient and Effective Feedback – A Lesson Study Investigating Students’ Responses and Follow-up to Feedback on their Writing (Full Report)

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The Wisconsin Teaching Scholars and Fellows Program, sponsored by the UW System Office of Professional & Instructional Development (OPID), involves outstanding instructors from UW institutions who participate in a year long study of teaching and learning. Teaching Fellows are early career, untenured faculty or academic staff and Teaching Scholars are mid to late career individuals. Participants attend Faculty College, a Summer Institute in Madison, and several meetings during the year. Each participant completes a substantial scholarship of teaching and learning project. To learn more about the program, visit the UW System's WTFS site. For additional information contact Bill Cerbin, wcerbin@uwlax.edu.

2018-2019 Wisconsin Teaching Fellows and Scholars

Sutha VeerasamySuthakaran Veerasamy is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department. He has taught at UWL since the Fall of 2013, teaching courses in culture and mental health, theories of psychotherapy, psychology of religion, and a graduate course in multicultural counseling for the School Psychology program.  As an instructor who specializes in culture and race courses, Suthakaran is interested in investigating how the personality characteristics of a teacher can function as a pedagogical tool to promote personal transformation in students so they may better navigate a multicultural world.  He will be focusing his 2018-2019 Scholarship of Teaching and Learning project on investigating common personality traits of instructors who are recognized for their ability to profoundly transform their students’ worldviews. 

C. MitchellClaire Mitchell
is an Assistant Professor of Spanish in the Department of Global Cultures and Languages. She is in her second year at UWL, and she teaches courses in Spanish such as Advanced Grammar and Advanced Conversation as well as courses in World Language Education. Her teaching interests focus on the teaching and learning of culture, the use of social media in the foreign language classroom, and the incorporation of positive emotions in the learning experience as a means to motivate learners to continue studying a foreign language. Her current SoTL interests center on the use of virtual and augmented reality in the foreign language classroom to develop learners’ cultural and linguistic competences. As such, the topic of her SoTL project as a Wisconsin Teaching Fellow is the use of virtual reality in the foreign language classroom to facilitate a broader and more intimate understanding of Colombian culture. To do so, learners enrolled in advanced-level Spanish courses will work with virtual reality headsets to explore different social, economic, and political perspectives associated with narcofútbol in Colombia. The goal of this project is to investigate whether or not the use of virtual reality affords learners opportunities to transcend the four walls of the classroom, recognize that there are multiple factors that influence who people are and how they communicate, and subsequently, deepen their understanding of the Colombian culture. 

2017-2018 Wisconsin Teaching Fellows and Scholars

JC Profile

Jim Carlson, Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Studies, has been a faculty member at UWL since 2013. He has been teaching the Field 1 course (Language, Literacy and Culture in the Secondary Classroom) for teacher candidates in the Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP) since his arrival. He is currently the Professional Development School (PDS) liaison at Onalaska and West Salem Middle Schools. His teaching and research interests focus on the intersections of literacy, social justice, and teacher identity. As a 2017-2018 teaching fellow, Jim will be looking into a reflective teaching journal assignment for its potential to guide teacher candidates in developing what Paul Gorski calls equity literacy, or the ability to recognize and respond to inequities in school policies and practices and in classroom materials and interactions.

EE Profile

Eric Eager, Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, has been a faculty member at UWL since 2012.   His research interests include flipped classrooms, active classrooms, specifications grading, mathematical modeling in the classroom, and research experience for undergraduates.  During his teaching fellowship he will study how the flipped classroom facilitates learning in a mathematical modeling-based approach to teaching differential equations and mathematical biology.  He will also study the effects of alternative grading techniques in courses like calculus, for which mastery is required for success in subsequent courses. Lastly, he will study how these two teaching innovations affect success in possible undergraduate research endeavors. 

JM Profile

James Murray, Associate Professor of Economics, joined UW-La Crosse in fall 2009. He teaches introductory and intermediate macroeconomics, business research methods, statistics/econometrics, and quantitative research methods in UWL’s MBA program.  Dr. Murray is active in the scholarship of teaching and learning in higher education, and has received several grants to support lesson studies and curriculum development, often taking advantage of innovative technologies. He has published work related to teaching and learning in the Journal of Economic Education, Journal of Education for Business, Journal of Academic Librarianship, and Economics Bulletin. His Wisconsin Teaching Scholars project involves developing an efficient and effective multidimensional approach on giving feedback on research and writing to undergraduate business research methods students.

2016-2017 Wisconsin Teaching Fellows and Scholars

Dr. Kate Lavelle ProfileKate Lavelle is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Studies Department. She has taught at UWL since the Fall of 2013, teaching courses in public speaking, communication criticism, debate, research methods, and the intersection of communication and sport. As an instructor who specializes in Advocacy and Communication Criticism courses, Kate is interested in investigating and implementing pedagogical strategies to imporve the quality and effectiveness of student speeches in a variety of situations. She will be focusing her 2016-17 Scholarship of Teaching and Learning project on investigating and developing assessment models for evaluating learning outcomes in limited preparation speeches.

Dr. Lei Zhang ProfileLei Zhang joined the English Department in 2014, teaching journalism, new media studies, and rhetoric courses. For her SoTL project she will investigate how to effectively incorporate social media in writing and journalism couses and study social media's potential for meeting traditional learning outcomes. Specifically, she will study how to use social medial sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Storify to broaden students' knowledge base, engage them in critical analysis, and build their ability to communicate effectively across different platforms.


2015-2016 Wisconsin Teaching Fellows and Scholars

SchenckHeather Schenck 
is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.  Heather teaches organic chemistry and spectroscopy.  Organic chemistry has a reputation for difficulty among pre-health majors, and attrition rates at many institutions are high (20+% D/F/W).  Heather’s laboratory research interests include the synthesis and spectroscopic characterization of small molecules designed to mimic biological iron binding molecules.  In pedagogy, Heather has been working to develop novel pedagogies for organic chemistry.  Her goal is to increase student engagement and success, in order to get more students through the course successfully.  Her prior work in this area has produced promising results.  She is now interested in testing the merits of in-class review of prior chemistry topics.  The opening overview of past topics can consume up to the first week of the semester.  A switch to online review materials would slow the pace of coverage of new material and permit more time to be spent on new material in class.  This technique has been used to good effect in other science courses at UWL.
RemsburgAlysa Remsburg, Associate Lecturer in Environmental Studies, came to UWL in 2014 after six years on the faculty of a small college in Maine.  As a community ecologist, Alysa joined UWL’s River Studies Center and initiated student research on dragonfly community responses to shoreline alteration.   Through teaching interdisciplinary courses such as Introduction to Environmental Studies, Environmental Sustainability, and Wisconsin Forests, Alysa helps students explore how they interact with the environment.    As a Teaching Fellow, she plans to investigate how well students learn when other students present information in comparison to when instructors present information.
HarmonLaurie Harmon, Assistant Professor in Recreation Management and Landscape Architect, is in her third year as faculty member at UWL.  As an educator, she emphasizes “self as learner” and encourages students to engage in collaborative and empowered learning through authentic and locally relevant projects.  She uses a social-psychological approach in her research, focusing on the person-place relationship and the transformative nature of outdoor environments.  Her focus as a Teaching Fellow is assessing the role that locally based projects have on students’ enduring learning; specifically, how developing an attachment to the region in which they study, i.e. place-based learning, might influence the overall learning process and outcomes.


2014-2015 Wisconsin Teaching Fellow and Scholars

Adam Van LiereAdam Van Liere, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Administration, is in his third year as a faculty member at UWL. His teaching and research interests include a variety of topics related to the study of international relations, such as the challenges facing global governance, the role of various state and non-state actors in global politics, and, especially, the politics of globalization. As a Teaching Fellow, Adam is especially interested in exploring strategies for engaging students in global learning. As such, he would like to explore ways of measuring change in students’ perceptions of global challenges, global citizenship, and global learning that may result from learning opportunities that are explicitly linked to other options for global learning, like study abroad, provided to students here at UWL.


Tesia MarshikTesia Marshik, Assistant Professor of Psychology, is in her fourth year as a faculty member a UWL. She teaches courses in developmental psychology (including lifespan and adolescent development), educational psychology, and a specialization course on human motivation. Her scholarly endeavors involve exploring the nature of students’ motivation and self-control skills, understanding how they are influenced by contextual factors (such as classroom practices and interactions with teachers), and how they relate to academic outcomes. As a teaching fellow, Tesia wants to investigate how students understand, relate to, and apply educational research to their own experiences (both as current students and as future educators/practitioners). In particular, she plans to explore the extent to which a structured, semester-long project improves students’ abilities to consume educational and psychological research. This project has been developed over the course of multiple semesters and now she is interested in more formally assessing students’ performance relevant to course learning objectives. She also plans to explore and assess the relative value of each component of the assignment and teaching materials in order to determine what works best, what could be improved, and students’ perceptions of the value of this assignment.


Natalie EschenbaumNatalie Katerina Eschenbaum, Assistant Professor of English, is in her sixth year as a faculty member at UWL. She teaches a variety of courses in English literature and writing, including College Writing I, English Literature I, Foundations for Literary Study, English Renaissance, Shakespeare I and II, and Milton. Her research focuses on English poetry of the sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuries. Recently, she has been looking at literary depictions of the five bodily senses, as well as the ways in which writers employ the affect of disgust. As a scholar of teaching and learning, Natalie plans to address a seemingly simple question: What advantages come from teaching difficult poetry in a General Education course? She wants to systematically consider which specific transferable skills are gained as a student moves towards a reading of a poem that, at first read, seems impenetrable. Her work is inspired, in part, by Charles Bernstein's The Attack of the Difficult Poem (Chicago University Press, 2011) and his suggestion that reading for difficulty makes people better critical thinkers. She also plans to link her thinking to recent cognitive science research (Natalie Phillips' 2012 Stanford University study) that suggests reading literature critically activates higher level brain functions. In the end, Natalie hopes to make difficult poetry more accessible to her students, but also to make lucid the reasons why such interpretive work is essential.

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