Feedback helps students grow by guiding understanding.
Instructional feedback is a response, usually from a mentor, used to guide student learning. Feedback can take several forms including verbal, nonverbal, written and digital.
Feedback gives students direction and answers three student questions (Hattie & Timperley, 2007):
Learning is more efficient, and therefore successful, when students understand:
Because students are novices, they often do not have the ability to self-evaluate or correct their mistakes and only obtain knowledge about what to improve or how to improve from an expert. This acquired knowledge enhances their ability to learn subsequent course material.
Although finding the time to give effective feedback is often a concern, faculty should consider the act of providing feedback as an investment in creating more self-regulated learners. As students improve at reflecting on their own learning, they become better at self-evaluating and require less guidance. There are also strategies and supporting technologies to give feedback more efficiently.
When students receive effective feedback, they can:
Feedback also has many benefits for faculty, including:
Further, when faculty receive feedback from students they can target more difficult topics and reduce time on understood topics, improving efficiency and reducing workload.
Provide feedback that:
These suggestions are based on research by Hattie & Timperley, 2007; Poulos & Mahony, 2008; and Van der Kleij, Feskens & Eggen, 2015.
Poulos & Mahony (2008) conducted focus groups with Australian students to gain student perspectives on the effectiveness of instructor feedback. They found that there were three key dimensions upon which students evaluated feedback as being effective or ineffective.
While more feedback is generally better, if students cannot answer “why” they received the score they did, whether positive or negative, feedback is not effective.
Many educational technology tools help faculty provide feedback more efficiently, particularly in hybrid and online course.
Discussion boards are a great way to provide students with both peer and faculty feedback. Keeping a regular presence throughout online classes supports student learning.
When giving multiple choice quizzes or comprehension questions, online learning management systems such as UBlearns can automatically grade student responses. They also offer a variety of question types such as fill-in-the-blank, matching and ordering. Students can receive immediate feedback and scores.
When using learning management systems such as UBlearns, faculty can create rubrics in their course and attach them directly to assignments. From there, the faculty can grade the student on each level of criteria, and the student receives prompt feedback.
The UBlearns help site contains information on interactive rubrics, such as how to create them, how to associate them with gradable content and how to share them with your students.
You should give snapshot assessments regularly throughout the course and students should be aware of their performance in relation to the course’s learning outcomes. These formative assessments need to be before the end of a unit or course so that students have time to correct understanding and faculty have time to adapt teaching.
After the end of a unit or course there should also be a summative assessment for students to determine if they achieved the learning outcomes and to learn if their study strategies were effective.
One of the most effective ways of structuring this feedback is using a rubric. You can use rubrics to:
Giving feedback can be subjective; one grader may consider a product “good” while another may not. To reduce subjectivity, especially when there are multiple graders, use a rubric to create criteria for the assignment, as well as a scoring system.
Unclear: Good job
By simply giving two words of feedback, a student would not know if understanding needs to be clarified or if mistakes need to be corrected and would be more likely to have the same problem in the future.
Clear: I enjoyed your presentation. You spoke clearly and concisely and were knowledgeable about your topic. To improve your accessibility, incorporate a higher contrast on your slides. Also check your APA formatting as there were several errors. I look forward to seeing your next presentation.
Using numbers for grading can be effective but only if you’ve provided criteria for what each number represents (see Rubrics).
Using symbols, such as a checkmark or a plus sign, is also a common grading system. Ensure that there is meaning associated with each symbol and that you clearly communicate criteria.