Effect of Feedback Tool on Students’ Academic Performance in Science


Science is the driver in modern global economic atmosphere. This is an era of information and high technological advancement which calls for more dedication on science education. In 2009, Hong Kong adopted “Hong Kong Accord on Global Science Education”. In this accord it recommitted itself to promoting science education at all levels of educational systems (Bergmann et al., 2008). Science is considered to be one of the pillars that would help Hong Kong remain competitive in the global economy. In Hong Kong Accord of GSEN, science education is recognized as a major factor in determining the role of Hong Kong in the global market. It considers science education as a framework that would determine Hong Kong’s participation and collaboration in handling global problems.

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Science education in Hong Kong experiences various challenges. One of the major challenges is low motivation toward science education. This is evident in the high number of students dropping science based subjects in secondary school. Reducing number of students registering for science based subjects in Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination is of great concern. High number of student dropping science based subjects lowers the number of students who can pursue science based courses in their higher education. As a solution, there is need to create a culture of science among students. Science education in Hong Kong should be promoted at elementary, secondary and higher leaning institutions. To do this, students need to be motivated to learn right from elementary level to college level.

Students’ motivation toward learning has high determination on performance. In order to improve students’performance, there is need for looking at ways for motivating them. When this is done, they feel motivated towards the subjects, and are more likely to be attentive, acquire and retain the knowledge. For example, students in a physics class may be discouraged when they are confronted by mathematical formulas that they are not able to conceptualize. In such situations, it is important for the teachers to look for ways of motivation them in the hope that this would improve their performance.

Purpose Statement

The aim of the research study will be to evaluate the effects of immediate feedback on students’ motivation and performance in science education. This main objective will be subdivided into the following specific research objectives: (a) To evaluate the effect of Immediate Feedback tools on students’ motivation toward physics, (b) To evaluate the effect of immediate feedback on performance in physics, and (c) To recommend appropriate feedback approach in science education.

Research Questions

To address the above main and specific objective, the researcher will be guided by the following research questions:

  • What is the role of a teacher is science education?
  • What is the role of feedback in learning process?
  • What form of feedback is appropriate is science education?
  • To what extent should feedback be used in students’ motivation?


Science education is the backbone of Hong Kong participation in global economy. Information from the research study will be important to Hong Kong’s government in planning for appropriate science educational approach. Students’ low motivation is a major challenge to science teachers in almost every part of the world. One of the solutions to low student motivation on science is changing students’ perception of science. Information from the study will provide science teachers with vital information on how to address students’ motivation. The findings from the study will specifically be useful to physics teachers at Lingnan Secondary School as well as to other physics teachers in the country and other parts of the world. Although there are several research studies addressing the effect of feedback on student performance, few address the effect of using immediate feedback tools. The research study is thus important as technology is part of the teaching tools.

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Description of Terms

Immediate Feedback tool: In the research study the term will refer to an interactive device that allows students to respond to a teacher in a manner that only that particular student or the teacher knows. Through the device, the student is able to receive an immediate feedback on validity of response to questions posed by the teacher. The specific immediate feedback tool that will be used in the research study will be Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique (IF-AT).


To achieve the objectives of the research study, a case study will be chosen. Lingnan Secondary school is chosen as a case study. The findings from research conducted in this school will represent the outcomes that can be obtained from other schools in Hong Kong. Lingnan Secondary School is located in Heng Fa Chuen. The school is a good for our case study since it has students from different parts of the region with varied perceptions of science. Findings from the research study will also be applicable in other educational systems globally.

Literature Review and Theoretical framework

Learning motivation is a subject that has been addressed by several scholars over a long time. Many scholars appreciate the role of motivation on educational performance and thus many literatures addressing the subject. In an effort to answer the research questions posed above, literature review will be focussed on motivation, feedback as well as survey design. Motivation and feedback are directly associated with the research topic. Survey design on the other hand is related to methodology for the study.


Motivation to learning is cited as one of the factors that determine performance in education. According to Slavin, motivation is one of the most important aspects that can promote students’achievement in classroom (Slavin, 2003). He defines motivation as the elements that keeps a person going and determines whether a person is able to achieve his/her objectives (Palmer, 2005). Other scholars such as Walsh and Zientrarski have close definition to motivation as Slavin (Brookhart, Walsh & Zientarski, 2006). They view motivation as attitude towards something. These and other researchers concur that motivation is an important factor in determining whether and individual would be able to achieve high performance in learning.

Even though learning motivation is many-sided, setting explicit goals is essential in enhancing the motivation of students. According to Martin, predetermined goal enables student to be focused and be motivated (Martin, 2006; Eggen & Kauchak, 2004). He argues that with definite predetermined objectives, students are able to put more effort with high level of motivation. He explains that students appreciate recognition of their effort and would work hard when their effort is recognized by another person of higher authority. He also argues that if students are able to set goals that are achievable then they would progressively be able to achieve higher results.

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Instructors have important role to play in determining the level of motivation in students. Mazer et al. argue that an instructor plays a large role in shaping leaning motivations of students. The researchers used Facebook web-based software to determine the effect of teachers self disclosure on students and motivation (Mazer, Richard & Simonds, 2007). In their finding they found that certain levels of self disclose had positive effect of motivation. Their finding however, showed some drawbacks as too much self-disclosure brought counter-productive effects.


Feedback is a significant element in learning process (Thorndike, 1932). According to Braedy, Byra and Koul, students find feedback to their progress in learning process as very important. They argue that students should be given opportunity to evaluate themselves before final assessment. In their study, Chariana and Koul found that multiple feedbacks had better effect that delayed and single-try knowledge of correct response approaches to feedback (Clariana & Koul, 2006). From their findings, students who were exposed to multiple feedback registered better higher scores when evaluated with questions that restated material covered. Their finding also showed that KCR and delayed feedback had significant contribution to verbatim-trace memory.

Although Koul and Clariana demonstrated that delayed feedback was important in some situations, Kulik and Kulik made emphasis on the need for immediate feedback (Kulik & Kulik, 1988). They argue that student should be able to see connection between feedback and aspects that the feedback is given (Slavin, 2003). They explain that if connection is lacking, then motivational values such as feedback and important information of the feedback may be lost. Slavin argues that without immediate feedback a student may continue with same mistakes that would have otherwise been corrected.

Frequent feedback is important in learning process. Slavin relate the effect of frequent feedback to the effect of frequent rewards. He argues that frequent rewards have better effects than big rewards that are given out infrequently (Skinner, 1969; Reddy, 1969). He posits that students should be assessed frequently using short assessment in order to better their performance and argues that with frequent feedback from regular assessment, students would be able to develop better connection between learning needs and the feedback given.

Survey Design

According Timmerman and Felstad et al, survey is one of the most effective ways of obtaining opinions on a subject (Timmerman, 2002). They can be administered in various ways. According to Timmerman, one way is using paper survey while the other is conducting an online survey. She argues that objectives of a survey would be attained in both approaches. Wang and McNamara however warn that certain consideration should be taken for any survey to be successful (Wang & McNamara, 1997). She says that coverage error, non-response error and sampling should be accounted for when designing a survey. According to Timmerman coverage error refers to the error resulting from inability to cover the targeted population; sampling error from inability survey a sample while non-response error refers to error resulting from participants who fail to respond.



Participants in the survey were drawn from students in the third form at Lingnan Secondary School, Heng Fa Chuen, and Hong Kong. A sample of twenty students from the class will be used. The study will be focussed on effect of immediate feedback of their performance in physics.


Immediate Feedback Assessment Technique (IF-AT): In the research study the term will refer to a testing system that improves on traditional multiple choice systems. IF-AT uses an answer form with multiple choices. The multiple choices are covered with a light coating which can easily be scratched off. Unlike in traditional multiple choice methods where student mark correct answers with a pencil, in IF-AT students scratch the choice that they think to be correct. If the scratched choice is correct, a specified symbol appears showing that a student has got the question right (Epstein Educational Enterprises, 2010).

To obtain student’s view on immediate feedback tools and their effectiveness, pre-survey and post survey will be conducted. The survey will include about fifteen likert scale structured questions. Student will be expected to rate their confidence by performing well in the assessments. The survey will thus provide data on students’ confidence before immediate feedback tools are used and the outcome after they are used. Data will also be collected through use of field note. To enable elaboration on data collected student interviews will also be used.


Answer form pre-prepared by instructor in the above stated technique will be presented to students. The instructor will present questions that correspond to answer form. A student will scratch the choice that they feel is correct. If the choice it is, the student moves over to the next question. If the choice in incorrect, a student will choose another answer. This will be repeated until a correct answer is revealed. A student will not be allowed to leave a question until a correct answer is obtained although they will earn points depending on the number of attempts.

To establish the effect of immediate feedback on performance in science education, averages of scores obtained will be compared to average from previous scores on the same set of multiple choice questions. Students’ achievement will also be evaluated by comparing the proportion of students that complete their assignments. Increase in proportion of students who complete their homework assignments on time will imply that performance has been enhanced. The approach will be used on various topics covered in one academic semester.


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