We often wonder what we can do to help students engage with the material so they can learn it at a deeper level. Students don’t make that an easy task. They arrive in class having not read the material or having not thought about it in meaningful ways, and that keeps them from being engaged in class. Several years ago, I read George Kuh’s article “What Student Engagement Data Tell Us about College Readiness,” in which he writes, “Students who talk about substantive matters with faculty and peers are challenged to perform at high levels, and receive frequent feedback on their performance typically get better grades, are more satisfied with college, and are more likely to persist” (Peer Review, January 1, 2007, p. 4; italics mine). Here are three ways I try to provide feedback that engages students and not overwhelm myself with grading tasks in the process.
When it comes to helping online students learn, few practices pack the pedagogical punch of quality online feedback. But common practices in face-to-face and online feedback can undercut the basic goal of feedback, which is to help students understand, and learn from, their missteps and mistakes. Learn how to upgrade your online feedback, making it more specific, timely, and effective—in less time than you might spend grading one paper.
High-quality, individualized feedback is essential for effective online teaching, providing multiple benefits. Good online feedback strengthens your connection with students and keeps students engaged with your class. It can also take an extraordinary amount of time. However, since many of the same issues crop up semester after semester with student after student, it’s possible to collect your comments, store them in feedback banks, and use feedback technology to distribute individualized yet automated feedback.
Detailed, specific feedback enhances student learning. It also helps boost morale, promote engagement, and encourage faculty-student connection. Unfortunately, it often consumes an inordinate amount of faculty time. This seminar will introduce you to a set of tools and practices designed to help you create better feedback for your online students in far less time.
Online Seminar • Recorded on Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Sometimes feedback leads to better performance, but not all the time and not as often as teachers would like, given the time and effort they devote to providing students feedback. It’s easy to blame students who seem interested only in the grade—do they even read the feedback? Most report that they do, but even those who pay attention to it don’t seem able to act on it—they make the same errors in subsequent assignments. Why is that?
Feedback is often given to students after the fact. After they completed their assignments, and after they turned in their exams. Likewise, faculty receive feedback from students in much the same fashion. After a paper is late because they didn’t know how to submit it electronically, after they dug a grading hole that will be difficult to climb out of, or after the course has ended.
We appreciated reading Dr. Weimer’s article “Getting students to act on our feedback” (March 5, 2012). The solution proposed of asking students to identify three ways to improve their assignment based on instructor feedback is a great idea. We would like to offer a further solution that addresses students’ incorporating instructor feedback.
I’m still pondering why students don’t make better use of the feedback we provide on papers, projects, presentations, even the whole class feedback we offer after we’ve graded a set of exams. Yes, we do see improvement as we look back across a course, but we also see a lot of the same errors repeated throughout the course.
Professors teach in a vacuum; we enter the classroom, deliver our lessons, and leave, and rarely get any feedback on the quality of our instruction before the end of the semester when formal faculty evaluations are completed by students. Other than grades on tests and other assessments, we really don’t know for sure if students are learning what we are teaching, and we often don’t have a good handle on whether our instruction is working.
Constructive instructor feedback is essential for a students’ cognitive growth, and it is essential that constructive feedback be presented in a positive and encouraging manner. An appropriate technique, known to the authors as the sandwich approach, encourages learners while providing honest, open and direct critique. Online instructors, in particular, should serve virtual sandwiches to increase motivation and to bolster the achievement of their students. In its most rudimentary sense the virtual sandwich has three layers a top slice, the filling, and the bottom slice.