Packback’s ‘Instant Feedback’

On July 8th, 2020, Packback released a major new feature, Instant Feedback, which elevates the detail, responsiveness, and depth of feedback provided to a student while they write their posts on Packback. This new feature represents a major step forward in the use of AI to support Mastery Learning at-scale through instant feedback.

What is Instant Feedback?

Packback’s Instant Feedback is dynamic, real-time AI-based feedback provided to students as they type their discussion posts on Packback. With this feature, students’ posts dynamically receive feedback provided by Packback’s AI while they type, on four categories of feedback: Curiosity, Communication, Credibility, and Convention.

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. 

“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.”

Dr. John Locke, Coordinator, Technology Enhanced Learning and Distance Education at SUNY Plattsburgh.

Read the Press Release

How Instant Feedback works

Packback’s Instant Feedback calls our AI algorithms in real-time, providing students with a preview of their Curiosity Score range, feedback on their written work (including grammar, spelling, and sentence fluency), and early alerts if their post may be flagged for any reason.

Watch our co-founder and Chief Product Officer, Jessica Tenuta, and Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Craig Booth give a tour of Instant Feedback in this webinar.

What kind of Instant Feedback can Packback provide?


The Curiosity category includes feedback on the effort, interest, and “discuss-ability” of the students’ post, including feedback on:

  • If a question is open-ended or closed-ended
  • The length and depth of the description
  • The repetitiveness of the text
  • If their post may be flagged due to Community Guidelines


The Credibility category includes feedback encouraging students to cite their source(s). Multiple independent studies have shown students on Packback are over 2x more likely to cite sources than on the LMS discussion.


The Communication category includes feedback on how effectively the student is communicating in their post, including feedback on:

  • The Appropriate Paragraph breaks
  • The Appropriate use of formatting
  • The Appropriate use of media (videos, images, links)


The Convention category includes feedback on:

  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Sentence fluency
  • Post Language

Note: The Convention category deliberately does not impact the student’s Curiosity Score to ensure English Language Learners (ELL) are not penalized. Conscious action to avoid bias in AI algorithms is essential to building ethical AI tools for education.

How does Instant Feedback support learning outcomes?

Packback is an education technology company that takes academic research into learning science, motivation, and online engagement and applies these academic frameworks to build easy-to-use technology tools. Our goal is to take academic research out of the realm of theory and into the classroom through easy to use technology. Packback’s Instant Feedback was informed by several well-known studies into Mastery Learning, motivation, and methods of evaluating written communication

1. Providing research-backed writing feedback

Based on the 6+1 Traits of Writing

The feedback provided by Packback’s Instant Feedback maps to the categories of feedback recommended through this well-known framework for evaluating written work. Packback’s design team used the 6+1 traits of writing to inform the 4 categories of feedback we provide and added additional feedback rules to better support the breadth of feedback recommended by the 6+1 Traits of Writing.

2. Inspiring students to want to write great posts

Based on Self-Determination Theory

Two of Packback’s primary objectives are to support student curiosity and inspire student intrinsic motivation. Our platform has always focused heavily on Autonomy and Relevance, and the addition of Instant Feedback now increases the platform’s ability to support the need for Competency ( clear expectations and feedback on performance) in creating an intrinsically motivating learning environment.

3. Using technology to scale mastery learning

Based on Bloom’s 2-Sigma Problem

In the early 1980’s learning scientist Benjamin Bloom performed a series of experiments comparing students who received 1-on-1 tutoring to those students who received only conventional classroom instruction and saw that 1-on-1 feedback led to performance 2 standard deviations higher than the baseline. Packback’s Instant Feedback is an answer to this study, using modern AI technology to make 1-to-1 instant feedback tenable in any size class.

Posted inNews

Request a Demo of the Packback Questions Platform

Curious to learn more? One of our friendly strategy consultants will be excited to meet you and discuss your course learning objectives. We will provide a free consultation to see if Packback would be a good fit for your class!

Request a Packback Demo