Teaching Matters

Promoting self-regulated learning through feedback for nursing students

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Teaching Matters 2017 | Presentation Details | 28 NovemberNov 2017


Promoting self-regulated learning through feedback for nursing students completing formative online multiple-choice question tests


Richard Say, Faculty of Health
Carolyn King, Faculty of Health
Liz Cummings, Faculty of Health
Annette Saunders, Faculty of Health
Denis Visentin, Faculty of Health


Innovative Teaching for Successful Graduates

Presentation Type

Showcase Presentation


Social Sciences 211




This project uses formative assessment theory (Sadler, 1989) to investigate how the design and feedback delivered in online quizzes can be used to encourage undergraduate nursing students to be more collaborative, resourceful and deeper learners. It relates to the theme Innovative Teaching for Successful Graduates in that it explores unique ways of delivering formative online quizzes in order to promote attributes that are required in nursing practice.

Online quizzes are powerful learning tools (Buchanan, 2000; Wang, 2007). They are frequently used as a teaching and learning strategy for undergraduate nurses, and the reliance on online, automated learning tools is likely to increase owing to a multitude of associated pedagogical and administrative advantages. However, more research is required to understand how these tools can be used to prepare nursing students for the demands of practice.

Feedback is central to the effectiveness of formative assessment and, if used correctly, promotes self-regulated behaviour (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006). This research tests a hypothesis that by limiting automated feedback delivered in online quizzes (score-only feedback), and encouraging peer feedback, students will be more likely to reflect on, evaluate and regulate their own learning.

This mixed-methods, quasi-experimental research aims to measure how feedback delivered in online formative quizzes can be used to promote collaboration, resourcefulness and deeper understanding of first-year nursing students at an Australian university. In phase 1, students receive score-only feedback at the end of completion of weekly, repeatable quizzes. Students in phase 2 receive itemised feedback and scores at the end of each quiz. Data collection includes surveys (self-rating collaboration, resourcefulness and satisfaction), focus groups, end of semester quiz scores and activity on an online discussion board. ANOVA testing will be used to measure non-parametric, between-group data. Thematic analysis will be used to interpret qualitative data. Key outcomes measured include reported and observed collaboration, resourcefulness and deeper learning.

Initial findings from phase 1 suggest that formative online quizzes encourage students to engage resourcefully and collaboratively in learning resources. More prescriptive feedback is well-received by students, however less prescriptive feedback may encourage learning approaches, such as resourcefulness and collaboration, that are conducive to deeper learning. Phase 2 data will be collected at the end of 2017.

This research will be of interest to educators who use online quizzes as learning tools. It will also hold interest for educators who have an interest in learning outcomes that extend beyond knowledge gain, such as self-regulated learning.


Buchanan, T. (2000). The efficacy of a World Wide Web mediated formative assessment. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 16(3), 193-200.

Nicol, D. (2007). E‐assessment by design: using multiple‐choice tests to good effect. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 31(1), 53-64.

Nicol, D., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in higher education, 31(2), 199-218.

Sadler, D. R. (1989). Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems. Instructional science, 18(2), 119-144.

Wang, T.-H. (2007). What strategies are effective for formative assessment in an e‐learning environment? Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 23(3), 171-186.

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