How Instructional AI Feedback Can Improve Student Outcomes and Classroom Engagement

Often when you hear or read the words “AI feedback” you think of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Claude, Gemini, etc. that do the writing and thinking for students. These tools can be given a simple prompt and return answers sophisticated enough to pass the bar exam.

This however, is a common misconception. In fact, there are several other forms of AI feedback, like Instructional AI, that when used and implemented properly, can scaffold and support learning, while simultaneously acting as an extension of the teacher. These pedagogically sound AI feedback loops have even been shown to improve student outcomes, enhance writing skills, and promote better classroom engagement.

What Type of Feedback Does Instructional AI Provide?

Instructional AI provides students with scaffolded pedagogically sound AI feedback loops on their writing, critical thinking, discussion, citations, and research quality. The type of feedback a student receives from Instructional AI is customized to align with the type of assignment a student is completing. 

For example, if a student is writing a long form research style paper, they may be prompted with writing feedback on the support of their thesis or the credibility of the research they are citing. However, once the student receives this feedback, it’s entirely up to them to make the adjustments or changes deemed necessary. Packback’s Instructional AI NEVER does the writing for them

While AI writing feedback is certainly one of the major benefits of Instructional AI, there are other ways feedback can be implemented like helping students engage in high level discussion and critical thinking. 

An example of Packback's AI not writing for the student

On Packback’s flagship platform, Packback Questions, the AI gives feedback to probe and encourage students to go deeper in their discussion posts and replies to other students. It may prompt a student to bring in more research to support their claim, or it may tell a student their thought or question needs to be expanded upon or tied back to real life. Once again, the AI is empowering students to think deeper and more critically, not doing the thinking or writing for them.

How Does Instructional AI Feedback Improve Classroom Engagement?

AI-powered feedback can potentially improve student engagement in the classroom in several ways:

Personalized feedback: Packback’s AI can analyze a student’s work, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and provide personalized feedback tailored to their individual needs. This 1:1 feedback can help foster students’ intrinsic motivation and inspire them to engage more in classroom discussion.

Immediate feedback: The instantaneous nature of Packback’s feedback provides students with a sense of instant gratification. They can see in real time what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong,, which in turn inspires them to keep striving for higher levels of achievement.

Gamification: Packback’s Instructional AI introduces an element of gamification in the form of “Curiosity Scores”. The Curiosity Score algorithm scores a student’s post based on their curiosity, communication, convention, and credibility and assigns the student a score based on its calculations. This simple scoring system gives students something to strive for and helps provide tangible value to their coursework.

To quantify the impact that Instructional AI-powered feedback can have on student outcomes, Packback conducted an IRB-backed study of over 1,000 students across 10 institutions. The study examined the impact of the discussion platform (and corresponding interaction model) on student engagement, discussion quality, grade outcomes, and qualitative faculty and student feedback. Data collected included raw discussion posts from both the control group (LMS discussion) and treatment group (Packback discussion), as well as qualitative survey results, and course grade and withdrawal information for both groups.

What Impact Does Instructional AI Have on Student Outcomes?

Students using Packback had the following outcomes, when compared to students using the existing learning management system (LMS)-based discussion board and interaction model:

  1. Improved Student Engagement
    On average, students who were subject to Packback’s Instructional AI-powered feedback wrote more overall posts and each post received more responses compared to the control group.
  2. Improved Discussion Rigor and Quality
    Students who used Packback cited sources more than 2x as often, wrote longer, more well thought out posts, and had a higher median word count compared to students in the control group.
  3. Improved Course Grade Outcomes
    The moment you’ve all been waiting for! Students that were subjected to Instructional AI writing feedback on Packback received significantly more A’s and fewer D’s and F’s compared to students who were left to their own devices.
  4. More Confident Writers
    In addition to data, according to instructor sentiment surveys, educators report being significantly more satisfied with their students’ writing quality. Additionally, students report feeling much more confident as writers when incorporating AI writing feedback into their workflows.

It’s important to note that while Instructional AI feedback can be a valuable tool for enhancing student engagement, it in no way shape or form replaces the impact a teacher can have on student engagement levels. Instead, this AI-powered feedback is used as an extension or support for teachers, not a replacement.

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How Instructional AI Feedback Can Improve Student Outcomes and Classroom Engagement