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Provide Good Feedback to Students

Guest Author - Elizabeth Stuttard

Feedback in courses is a very important element for instructors and students in distance learning courses. It seems that more feedback is required by students and that more is given by students. Feedback is the main complaint by distance learning students. They often feel that they don't receive timely feedback or meaningful feedback. Students need to know what they have learned and what they have not learned in a course. They will not be able to determine this if they do not receive good feedback about their learning.

It is difficult for instructors to know what is considered good feedback. They are often unsure about what students really want in terms of feedback and whether it will be useful to them. That is why it is also important for students to give good feedback to the instructor. Once again we are talking about good communication which is the most important aspect of any learning situation and communication should move two-ways. Here are some of the ways that instructors can facilitate good feedback for students.

1. Use rubrics. These save you some time since the students can look at them to find out why they didnít get the mark they were expecting on a particular assignment. That should decrease the number of comments you need to make on their papers and decrease the number of e-mails you get enquiring why they didnít do as well as expected.

2. From the beginning of the course, encourage students to take responsibility for their learning. Encourage them to think about their work, what they feel they have learned, and to pay attention to all feedback that they get so that they can think about it and how they can improve. Ask questions throughout the course which will encourage them to reflect on what they have learned.

3. Include various types of feedback in the course such as group feedback, peer feedback and their own self-analysis of their work. This spreads the responsibility for feedback around so that you donít have to do it all yourself. You will need to set an example of how to give good feedback.

4. Try to be timely with your feedback. I used to e-mail my instructors to find out if they had received my assignment if they didnít send me an e-mail within a day to say that they had received it. My feeling was that if I assumed it was there but something had gone wrong, then I might be penalized for sending it late.

5. Make constructive comments in the assignments that you are marking. It isnít very helpful to have a paper returned that makes comments such as ďI donít agree.Ē or ďThis is wrong.Ē Does that mean that you happen to feel differently about the subject or that the argument does not support the idea presented or that the facts are incorrect?

6. Ask for feedback from students at the end of the course and any time during the course that you use a new technique such as new technology to present material. This will help you to improve the course for the next time. You may discover whether the methods you are using for giving feedback are actually helping the students.

Feedback is important in online distance learning courses for both the students and the instructor. If people do not know how they are doing, they cannot make changes to be more successful in their learning, and they will not be able to determine what they still need to learn. Various types of feedback can give the students a better idea of how they are doing and can lighten your workload as an instructor. Make course feedback one of the important factors during your course planning to help increase student success in learning.


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Content copyright © 2013 by Elizabeth Stuttard. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Elizabeth Stuttard. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Patricia Pedraza-Nafziger for details.

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