The New Online Instructor’s Guide to Feedback Fundamentals: Part III

feedback

This is the final part in our series on giving online students feedback. This time around, we’ll discuss how you can make time for giving feedback and what you need to do to figure out where you can improve your feedback. Let’s get started!

Making Time for Feedback

By now, you’re probably thinking, “Well all of this is great, but it’s almost impossible for me to provide this kind of feedback to students when I have so many classes to teach! There just isn’t time.” Fair point, but providing students with good feedback is essential to their success, so how can you make time or at least make giving feedback go faster? There are some shortcuts you can take that can give your students what they need without making you want to pull out your hair.

Address the class as a whole. Seeing the same errors over and over again from your whole class? You don’t need to tell every student. Make a general announcement that acts as feedback for all of your students in one fell swoop.

Get students to give each other feedback. You’re not the only one who can give students feedback; students can take on the role, too. Get students to work together to evaluate each other’s work, giving them a clear rubric on what to look for and how well the other student or students are meeting those goals. This can be a great activity to help students proofread papers prior to turning them in to you.

Cut and paste. There’s nothing that says you can’t cut and paste comments if they really do apply to multiple students. Come up with a few really great comments and cut and paste them when appropriate.

Alternate due dates between courses.  You don’t want to be grading ALL of your papers or projects at once, so stagger your due dates. This way, you can get students their work back in a timely manner (complete with stellar feedback, of course) without having to stay up late or skip lunch to do it.

Do not mark every error. Research has shown that students just stop looking at errors if too much is marked throughout the paper, so it’s not worth your time to mark every single error if there are a lot of similar mistakes.

How Do You Know If Your Feedback Is Good?

Not sure if you’ve really gotten the hang of giving good, even great, feedback? The best way to find out is to get some feedback of your own. After all, feedback isn’t a one-directional process.

One of the best ways to do this is to ask your students about your feedback either on your course evaluations or during the course itself. The latter method will help you to adjust your approach while you still have a chance to impact students, the former will give you a clearer picture of your performance overall.

You can also use the progress and motivation of your students as a gauge of your success. If your students are doing well and improving throughout your course, it’s likely that they are learning from the feedback you’re providing and find it useful in honing their coursework.

Though take heed: research has shown that feedback is usually only applied about 30% of the time, so your students’ willingness to use your feedback shouldn’t be the only gauge of your success, though the kinder and more constructive you are, the more likely they are to actually use it.

Remember, the point of feedback is to help an individual reach a goal and your students aren’t the only ones with objectives in the course—you also want to see them do well and graduate from your course having learned something. Getting feedback on your feedback is just another way to make you a better instructor, keeping you learning long after you’ve graduated.

Want to read the rest of the series? Check out Part I and Part II.

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