The Art of Feedback: Techniques for Effective Online Feedback in Writing Courses
Stephen F. Austin State University
Department of English & Office of Instructional Technology
She has over 16 years’ experience in the field of higher education.
Art of feedback in online writing courses
Do quizzes 2x. Make videos myself.
Adjunct for Dept of English—tech writing online
Full-time job –Center for Teaching and Learning
D2L school (used to be blackboard)
Online feedback = world of possibilities
Can cause greater harm and confusion BUT potential to do much greater, long-lasting good.
When you mark up a paper on paper, your middle of the road student looks at it and puts it away.
When leaving feedback online, you may be leaving it where their grades are. Negative is awful then (because see often) but good is wonderful.
Words right there for student over and over and over again
Open with something positive…. End with specifics.
Know exactly where your feedback shows up.
We use GradeMark with 3 steps. Know how students have to access and how difficult.
Consider realm of possibilities beyond text.
Voice comments, video comments.
Lead with the happy stuff.
Reframe your thinking
Stop thinking in terms of what the student got wrong—focus first on what they got right.
What are the strengths here?
Don’t ask what’s wrong but instead What can be improved?
Reframe the negative
“Looks like you are off to a reasonable start…”
“Headed in the right direction, but…”
You got the format exactly write. Times New Roman.
Love to infuse my personality in my online classes, but when giving feedback on students’ work, I try to steer away from expressing personal disappointment. Frame it to return to the directions.
Re-visioning the general
Online feedback can and should be better than pen/paper feedback
Online feedback permits you to beyond the 3-letter notations
Devise new ways of saying “huh? Or awk.
Exercise caution when using I in your feedback. Can work for you but can easily work against you.
I like the way you did x
I love your use of metaphor when discussing x
I agree with you on x
Value judgments –use with caution
Be careful with
Good, bad, great, terrible
Avoid the feedback sandwich b/c students may read the start and end and get a false impression
Bulleted lists (naming specific areas needing work)
Include references to course materials or links to websites
Remind students that you are here to help (email if you have questions, drop by during office hours)
IF limited time
–consider a tiered system of feedback that rewards timely work (sequence of feedback)
full comments for on-time/early
partial comments for later
no comments for final deadline
Consider and re-consider your words in light of the fact that any situation may end up in the hands of a Chair or Dean or may involve parents.
Keep a file of commonly used comments on your computer’s desktop
Copy and paste as needed
I have a rotating set of end comments. Have learned to keep those in a running file.
Choices of feedback:
Direct feedback in a comments/reply box
Email—can be time consuming, but good with graduate seminar
Rubric—either built in or as Word file
Text comments on the paper (MSWord, Grademark, on paper—then save to PDF)—I don’t recommend this.
Screencast comments (video of screen with audio)
Combo of above
Grademark is easier for drag and drop comments….
Think about your objectives:
Seeking to clarify reason for grade OR will they be revising
Do you need to give line by line feedback or just general comments
Think about how often they will see it. Be brief if it will show up on their grades’ screen.
Think ahead about uni, dept, program assessment needs
Will you be asked to submit samples of student work?
Will those samples need to have comments and grades on them?
Or should those samples have No comments?
Cross-reference your feedback
Written at the end of a rubric ? Good work. For detailed comments, see the video feedback.
Spoken at the end of the video commentary?
Use News or Announcements (LMS different)
If many students are making the same mistakes, post feedback and advice in course announcements.
Increases visibility of feedback and saves time.
Remind students what to turn in, sets reasonable expectations for when to expect grades
Find out how release conditions and email rules work in your LMS.
(Thank you for turning in, did you remember your x on this?)
If you are going to give online, know how to delete and edit.
Know how immediately it shows to students.
Try student view in your LMS so that you can give them
Check whether they viewed the feedback.
Consider running a poll or survey.
Consider extra credit for first time they respond to
Or make it a requirement for revision