Using Feedback Strategies to Support First-Year Students’ Independent Learning and Critical Judgment

  • Theodore Tai Hoi LeeEmail author
  • Min Yang


Internationally, independent learning and critical judgment are regarded as key attributes that undergraduate students should develop in academic learning. Existing research has, however, evidenced the first year at university as a period of academic transition during which students need extensive support. This chapter explores the research question: How can feedback strategies be implemented to support first-year students’ independent learning and critical judgment? Drawing on the research literature, principles of pedagogy to support first-year students’ independent learning and critical judgment are proposed. The chapter reports a case study in which first-year students were provided with feedback through tutorial lessons of a General Education Foundation Course. Qualitative data were collected via two class observations, a teacher interview, and two focus groups. Findings suggest that the incorporation of feedback strategies into pedagogical design was the key to support first-year students’ independence and criticality in academic learning. Findings highlight the importance of pedagogical and feedback design in supporting first-year students’ learning: (a) constructing a structured tutorial framework to scaffold independent learning; (b) using active learning tasks to involve students in critical thinking and reflection; (c) employing teacher feedback to construct a supportive learning climate; and (d) using peer learning and peer feedback to develop critical judgment. The chapter concludes by drawing implications from the findings for supporting first-year students’ learning, with particular attention to engaging East Asian students in active participation in classrooms as safe and trusting learning communities.


First-year students Feedback strategies Teacher feedback Peer learning Peer feedback 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Education Policy and LeadershipThe Education University of Hong KongTai PoHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of Curriculum and InstructionThe Education University of Hong KongTai PoHong Kong

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