Feedback for learning: ACER’s Research Conference 2013

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Sunday, 4 Aug 2013

4 August 2013:  Delegates to the annual research conference of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) on the theme How the Brain Learns: What lessons are there for teaching? will hear tomorrow how feedback affects learning.

In his plenary address to Research Conference 2013, Dr Paul Howard-Jones from the University of Bristol will discuss how video game feedback engages learners by stimulating the brain’s reward system.

Dr Howard-Jones’s research has found that students prefer educational tasks that are embedded in a gaming context involving uncertain rewards. Studies in adult learning have shown that reward uncertainty heightens the emotional response to learning.

“These concepts may have considerable value in developing educational software. They also have potential in developing pedagogy for whole-class gaming managed by the teacher,”­ Dr Howard-Jones said ahead of the conference.

According to ACER Director of Assessment and Psychometric Research, Dr Michael Timms, who will also speak at the conference, interactive learning environments that provide students with learning experiences through simulations or augmented reality also offer promise.

“Our research suggests that the kinds of feedback built into interactive learning environments can produce learning gains,” said Dr Timms. “Interactive learning environments that are designed to measure learning can ensure students get feedback at the right time and teachers remain in touch with how their students are progressing.”

Professor Ottmar Lipp, Director of the Science of Learning Research Centre (SLRC), and Dr Sacha DeVelle, Principal Research Fellow in ACER’s Assessment and Psychometric Research program, will explain how research can investigate the impact of different types of feedback on learning utilising two new experimental classrooms in Melbourne and Brisbane.

“Our experimental classroom research will provide new insights into the ways learners interact with study materials, how they distribute attention, and what is memorised best,” said Dr DeVelle. “The experimental classroom setting will among other things enable us to investigate the effect of different forms of feedback on learning.”

Research Conference 2013 takes place in Melbourne from 4 to 6 August.

Further information is available from

Download the full conference proceedings from


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