EAA 2024 Classroom Session – Using Active Feedback to Develop Students’ Critical Thinking Skills

Posted by Anastasia Kopita - Jun 16, 2024
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Dear EAA members,

It was a great pleasure to see Suzanne McCallum from University of Glasgow offering the EAA 2024 Classroom session. Some information on the event are below.

Anastasia

EAA Classroom Session – Using Active Feedback to Develop Students’ Critical Thinking Skills

It was an honour to present the classroom session at the EAA’s 46th Annual Congress in Bucharest. I really enjoyed the engagement and interaction with fellow educators, and it’s been great to hear from many of you, and to learn that you plan on trying innovations at your own institution. If you couldn’t attend (or have had a hectic time since the conference and need a reminder) then here’s a refresher of some of the main points.

General idea:

  • Feedback is a process with students at the heart of it and comparison is the key driving force. Students can compare their work with a range of different sources of information to activate inner feedback processes, helping develop new understandings and performance improvement (as illustrated on the attached slides).
  • When we talk about feedback what we tend to focus on and plan for are the comments students receive from peers or teachers (and therefore the comparisons they make between comments received and their own work). However, this is a narrow view and encourages students to be reliant on others, rather than being independent learners.  So how can we change this? 
  • By thinking carefully and planning for a range of different comparisons (including comparison with information in resources) we can encourage students to move to deeper levels of learning and encourage critical thinking. So, to unlock the power of inner feedback, the decisions we need to make are:
    • Decide on a task for the students to complete. (This can be what you currently ask students to do.)
    • Select resources for comparison (being careful with the selection as different comparators will take you to different places).
    • Formulate clear instructions and decide how to make the output explicit e.g. students update their work or write self-review comments.

Examples:

The session focused on computational work and demonstrated a range of comparators that could be used for a depreciation computation scenario. Cycles of comparison gradually led to deeper levels of critical thinking and evaluation. The comparators selected were:

  1. Worked solution – what we traditionally provide. This helps students check the correctness of their solution.
  2. Expert video explanation – helps students focus on the process (rather than simply the correctness of the solution).
  3. Extract from the Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting – allowing students to make a direct comparison between theory and practice (therefore focusing on why they are completing such calculations).

When I used this with my large first-year class, these comparisons were completed asynchronously pre-class. The comparators noted below were completed in-class and were the activities completed at the classroom session at the EAA.  (The attached slides contain more detail, including instructions/questions to guide the output for each task.)   

  1. A worked solution with the depreciation assumptions changed – prompting students to consider the impact of professional judgment on the figures that appear in financial statements.
  2. A peer discussion on the impact of professional judgment, trying to decide on the most appropriate depreciation policy.
  3. Extract from the ethical code – prompting students to consider the role of a professional accountant and how this might impact on their decision making.

Try it yourself:

Participants were then invited to consider designing their own implementation (using the structure outlined in the slides). NOTE: it is not necessary to have an elaborate design, and something simpler than the example I demonstrated can have a big impact. The main thing to do is be creative and bold and try to think about comparators that are not necessarily the same format as the original work and that are not necessarily what you would traditionally use.  My top tips are:

  • When selecting comparators, be bold and creative in your choice. It is also important to be clear on what you are trying to achieve (as different comparators will lead to different outcomes).
  • Provide clear instructions to the students and make the output explicit.
  • Don’t feel you need to comment on everything the students produce. You might want to take a look to get a feel for how they are progressing, but there is no need to provide feedback comments on this work (you are trying to help them be independent learners).
  • Explain to the students why you are doing things in this way, so they understand the thinking and see the benefits of engaging with the tasks.

Share your thoughts and ideas:

I hope this has given many of you some food for thought on how to design and implement these ideas.  My co-author (David Nicol) & I would love to hear from you on how you are progressing, so please keep in touch at suzanne.mccallum@glasgow.ac.uk  

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