Education Product updates

Fixing feedback & launching Loops

Mote’s new ‘Loops’ product makes written and verbal feedback more engaging for students and more measurable for educators

Mote and feedback

Feedback has been central to Mote’s mission from day one, and today we are announcing a redoubling of our efforts to work with educators to unlock the power of feedback. 

Today – at the ISTE conference in New Orleans – we are thrilled to launch ‘Mote Loops’, a new product designed in collaboration with educators to address some of the challenges of feedback. Part of the Mote Chrome Extension, Loops is also integrated seamlessly with Google Classroom’s feedback workflow.

Why does feedback need fixing?

Feedback’s potential to improve student attainment, alongside other benefits, is widely supported by research. 

Given this proven potential, we have been surprised that more schools do not have explicit feedback policies, and saddened to hear of the challenges that many educators have experienced when trying to develop their own feedback practices.

So we embarked on a program of research to understand the challenges of feedback more fully. After dozens of interviews and hundreds of survey responses, three big challenges really stood out:

  1. Student engagement. Many educators are disappointed with students’ engagement with their feedback, and this impacts educators’ motivation to invest time in providing feedback.
  2. Impact measurement. Educators often don’t know whether their feedback is being actioned by students, or otherwise making a difference.
  3. Time. Giving high quality feedback takes a lot of time, often outside of regular teaching hours.

The scale of these challenges struck us as really significant, and we felt an irresistible urge to focus our energies on working with educators to address the problems.

Are grades part of the problem?

One theme that we have also heard repeatedly is the tension between grading – itself arguably a form of feedback – and descriptive feedback of the kind that the research predicts will make the greatest difference for learners. Our conversations with educators consistently echo research findings like the following:

“…if a paper is returned with both a grade and a comment, many students will pay attention to the grade and ignore the comment.

Brookhart, S. M. (2008) How to Give Effective Feedback to Your Students.

Further research has introduced us to the wider movement of educators who are challenging the role that grading plays in K12 and Higher Education.   This movement is sometimes known as ‘ungrading’, or ‘going gradeless’, and its thought leaders include researchers like Alfie Kohn, who have argued that grades are something that should be actively minimized, if not eliminated, where possible. 

We have found the evidence and arguments against grading to be persuasive, based on the experience of the former educators on the Mote team, and also based on our experience working with educators and discussing feedback. We also understand that grading is a deeply-ingrained element of most educational systems.

Though grades were initially meant to serve various pedagogical purposes, more recent reforms have focused on “grades as useful tools in an organizational rather than pedagogical enterprise—tools that would facilitate movement, communication, and coordination.

Scheider and Hutt, 2013. Making the grade: a history of the A–F marking scheme

We are fascinated by the research on grading, and are inspired to work alongside educators to explore ways to support the ‘Ungrading’ movement.

How Mote is Evolving

When we thought deeply about the challenges of feedback, and of helping schools to move ‘Beyond Grading’, we realized that we could have more impact if we didn’t start with the assumption that voice notes were the answer.  Instead, we thought: what would it look like to focus on building a better solution for feedback?

Today we are excited to announce Mote’s commitment to a multi-year ambition to work alongside educators to support the process of helping schools and colleges to push ‘Beyond Grading’.  While the challenge feels familiar, it does mark a new chapter for our young company. We don’t know exactly where this path will take us, but we know that it will be shaped by our community and by the lessons we learn together.

Our first step

We’re proud to announce the beta launch of our new product, ‘Loops’. Loops is like an exit ticket for feedback, whether it be written or verbal.  In designing Loops, we had three main goals: 

  1. Increase student engagement with feedback.
  2. Nudge students to take action based on feedback received. 
  3. Inform educators about students’ engagement with feedback.

Loops will soon be available as part of the Mote Chrome extension – we will be launching it for all users on July 4.

Want to learn more? Check out this video!

By Will Jackson

CEO and Co-founder at Mote

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