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College Students Can Now Receive Instant, Adaptive Feedback to Boost Critical Thinking Skills

College students have a new resource to help build critical thinking and writing skills, thanks to an initiative launched by Packback, creators of AI-enabled inquiry-based online discussion. The program, known as Instant Feedback, uses AI technology to provide students with real-time, consistent guidance and support that helps them craft more effective, creative contributions to class discussion.

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“Meaningful discussion is a critical part of our work to ensure a high-quality online learning experience – and has become even more important as we shift to an online-ready model in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. John Locke, Coordinator, Technology Enhanced Learning and Distance Education at SUNY Plattsburgh. “This resource will provide students with the kind of immediate feedback that technology can offer at scale – and enable faculty to dive deeper into substantive, engaging discussions that cultivate both curiosity and confidence.”

By giving students detailed feedback in real-time and enabling them to revise and improve their work before submission, Instant Feedback is designed to support mastery learning, a strategy rooted in the idea that students can master any concept with the right practice and support. As students craft their discussion questions and responses, the tool uses AI algorithms to provide guidance in a range of categories, including Curiosity (which measures the “open-endedness” of the question, the depth of a student’s description, and the repetitiveness of text, among other factors), and Credibility (which encourages students to cite sources), Communication, and Convention. This new, deeper level of feedback also provides students with greater transparency into Packback’s Curiosity Score, the pioneering technology that brings AI to bear on quantifying the effectiveness of discussion posts.

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“Supplementing instructor-provided feedback, with the consistent and instant feedback made possible by AI can give all students the best of both,” said Jessica Tenuta, co-founder of Packback. “By delivering instant feedback to students that are able to apply and learn from before submitting their work without any penalty, students can develop their skills while gaining a healthier relationship to feedback.”

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