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Abstract

We examined how different styles of written feedback by graduate-student teaching assistants (GTAs) in college intro biology lab (USA) influenced student achievement and related the different styles to time efficiency. We quantified GTA feedback on formative lab reports and student achievement on two different types of assessments, a quiz in 2010 and a summative lab report in 2011. We evaluated the extent to which three categories of written feedback impacted student achievement (grade discrepancy between actual and ideal, short direct comments, and in-depth explanatory comments). Student achievement was best explained by both grade discrepancy and short direct comments in 2010 and grade discrepancy only in 2011. In-depth explanations were not part of the best-fit models in either year. Results also indicated that GTAs provided little encouraging feedback, most feedback was targeted and asked students to expand on explanations. Results are discussed in relation to relative time efficiency and GTA training.

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