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It’s important to communicate often with students in order to make sure that they are learning, especially given that you’ve moved to a new, potentially unfamiliar, format. Effective, constructive feedback has never been more important than it is now as you wrap up the school year. It has the potential to improve learning, engage students, increase student motivation, and strengthen teacher-student relationships as they realize that you are interested and invested in their success.
Attributes of effective feedback:
It is given in a timely manner, while there is still time for students to act on it.
It includes something positive, in addition to what they need to work on. We call this success/intervention feedback (“that’s good/now this”). For example, “You started with a strong thesis statement so that’s good, now work on providing solid evidence to back it up”.
Then it provides direction. This may be in the form of a question, suggestion, or reminder. For example, “You started with a strong thesis statement so that’s good, now work on providing solid evidence to back it up. Look back in your notes from 4/14 at the criteria for…”.
It does not do the thinking for the student. Don’t “over-feedback”, just point out what is done well, identify what needs work, and provide direction.
It is not directed to the student (you are brilliant!), but rather to their work (your thesis statement was clear and on target). Avoid meaningless comments like “good job” or “needs work”.
So, the question is this…how do we give effective feedback via distance learning? A few suggestions:
Have students peer review assignments first before they submit to you. You may have to teach them how to give effective feedback, however. This approach empowers students as resources for one another, plus reduces the amount of feedback you will need to provide later on. ;
Record yourself using a platform such as FlipGrid and send your comments to a student.
Use rubrics whenever possible. It gives students a clear understanding of the assignment, then something concrete to refer to as you critique their work.
Use Padlet (go to Padlet.com) and create a board where students can provide peer feedback and you can contribute as well.
We are all in this together.
Keep the faith,
Dr. Cathy Box is the Director of the LCU Center for Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship