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Optimising the collaborative learning environment for Design-Based Education with FeedbackFruits | Case of NHL Stenden University

Dan Hasan
February 11, 2021
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Instructor Workload
Learner Workload


NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences has been integrating an innovative didactic approach into more and more of their study programmes, known as Design-Based Education (DBE). This combines interdisciplinary with problem-based approaches to create authentic learning experiences. Working together in small groups on assignments from real clients, bachelor-level students create a practical solution to the client’s problem as an end-product, as well as carefully following their own and each other’s personal development along the way.

FeedbackFruits tools were used in multiple places throughout these courses: this use case will discuss how Peer Review, Group Member Evaluation and Interactive Study Material were integrated into a course on media production to support both the students through their formative assignments, as well as the educational approach in general. The instructor of this course sought to enrich the feedback process by digitising the archiving of and access to feedback.

Constructive alignment

Learning objectives

  • Students will create a product which addresses a problem assigned to them by a third-party client, demonstrating their understanding and application of key concepts in the domain.
  • Students will develop their ability to give critical and constructive feedback, and respond to received feedback.

Learning activities

At the start of the module, students are assigned the task of creating a media product for a client. Like any other assignment, this involves developing and demonstrating both knowledge and skills within the domain, however, in this DBE approach, students had to decide for themselves what steps were necessary to do so. For example, where an assignment required photographical content, students requested material on how to operate a camera, which the instructor uploaded with Interactive Video and enriched with questions. At every iteration of the assignment, students handed in their work with Peer Review and reviewed each other’s teamwork skills with 
Group Member Evaluation. Over the course of four weeks, this is how students worked towards a 
first prototype of their product. After successive feedback and development, a final version was 
handed in alongside a portfolio which included specific feedback comments received throughout the module.

Learning activities based on the Bloom's Taxonomy were mainly at the level of:

Understanding and Applying

media production knowledge and skills in addressing the client's assignment


the work and skills of peers and group members, and own contribution to a group project

Assessment of learning outcomes

  • FeedbackFruits tools were used almost entirely for formative assessment, whereby feedback comments acted as a reference point for both students and the instructor to be able to track their learning trajectory and personal development.
  • Additionally, students made screenshots of feedback comments they had received on both their work and team performance, and included these in their final portfolio, evaluating for themselves how this feedback influenced their experience.

Notable outcomes

  • The instructor found the tools effective in supporting the educational approach, helping to reach the learning outcomes, and making some of the learning processes easier overall.
  • Students were able to use the tools without any instruction from the instructor.
    FeedbackFruits “took a lot of work out of [the instructor’s] hands” in setting up activities as compared to the in-built tools in NHL Stenden’s base learning management system - “as soon as it’s running, it runs itself!”
  • Sometimes the instructor took a screenshot of the student overview, which displays individual and group progress. Sharing this with the students was an effective way to spur the students on with the activity, increasing transparency in communication with the student cohort.
  • Finally, the instructor noted that the groups that were very active with giving feedback also received higher grades in the end. Implementing more frequent feedback moments with Peer Review motivated students as their final creations were of a higher quality.
"In our course the integration of FeedbackFruits has definitely been a success... and I never even had to explain to students how it works. Now I’m getting requests from every corner of the school to help implement the tools!" - Jort Harmsen, Lecturer Media Technology

The role of the instructor

  • The instructor coaches students through the learning process from start to finish, making clear what is expected at each stage of the program. This means that the students request and receive workshops to guide their own learning and development. For example, in the first module of the first year, students receive a workshop on how to give good feedback as a starting point. Other workshops are made upon request or are reused from previous classes.
  • Inside the activities the instructor replies to feedback comments with tips and remarks (in Peer Review) and answers to in-line questions (in Interactive Study Material) which “gives [students] the feeling that someone actually reads the feedback.”
  • The instructor makes further use of the student overview by sharing this data (which is normally only visible to instructors, not students) with the class. In this program, emphasis is repeatedly put on the importance of on-time, constructive feedback as a means to be able to critically analyse one’s own work and that of their peers.

Added value of technology

  • FeedbackFruits tools create more moments for activating and engaging learning experiences by providing more interactivity with course material and more transparency in the feedback process: “The end-quality of the products the students create in my course is of a higher level. I think that’s because they are giving each other more feedback, continuously, on what they are doing.”

Possible variation

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