Effective feedback is important to help students succeed, but critical in an online classroom where there is no physical instructor presence. A lack of effective feedback may cause a student to feel alienated which can impact their ability to succeed in the course.
Feedback is not about evaluating a student’s performance, nor to give advice, praise, or criticism. Feedback is information about how a student is doing in their efforts to reach a goal.
Principles of feedback
There are seven key principles of feedback when working with students:
- Goal-referenced: Is a student on track to reach their goal? Are they on course or need a correction? For example, a student may be writing a document to make a reader laugh. Feedback for the document to see if they are reaching the goal is to ask “how funny is this” or “how can it be funnier”.
- Tangible and transparent: Is there a tangible result related to the student’s goal? Use specific examples related to specific points of the student’s work.
- Actionable: Can the feedback be acted upon by the student? “Good job”, “incorrect”, and similar are not actionable. What specifically should be adjusted, and for what purpose?
- User-friendly: Feedback should be simple and in plain language. Feedback that is overly technical or conceptual may be detrimental to a student who is having trouble grasping a concept.
- Timely: Feedback must be given in a timely manner, and not delayed by days or weeks. Feedback given within a pre-defined time period helps students know when to expect feedback and gives them the ability to incorporate it within their future learning. Feedback about content from a course’s second week that’s given when the course is in its eighth week does not aid a student in their growth.
- Ongoing: Along with timeliness, students must have an opportunity to use the feedback they have been given. New feedback based on student progress & growth must also be given to aid a student in improving their performance.
- Consistent: Be consistent in the feedback given! Students need a steady stream of accurate feedback to ensure they are progressing successfully, meeting the goals/objectives of the course and any of its assignments.
There are several great articles on the web with ideas for feedback in the online environment:
- Strategies for Providing Feedback in Online Courses – Ilinois Online Network
- The page provides a series of ideas for using feedback online, including reasoning for providing such feedback.
- Why Meaningful Online Feedback Is Important – eLearning Industry
- The article provides information and theory behind feedback, given from an overall online perspective.
- How to Provide Meaningful Feedback Online – Inside HigherEd
- The article provides different feedback ideas, including several tools that can be used to provide feedback that does not rely on text.
Tools & technology to help with feedback
Multiple tools and technologies can aid in providing feedback to students that can help students. Tools can include, but are not limited to:
- Panopto, the college’s video management system, can be used to provide one-to-one direct video feedback.
- The Canvas SpeedGrader allows for providing assignment comments. Comments can be text, or can be audio and/or video recorded directly into Canvas. No extra software is needed to record.
- One-on-one video conferencing can provide live feedback to students, allowing a student to ask questions to clarify feedback and tasks. Multiple options exist for video conferencing, including Canvas Conferences, WebEx, Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts.