Now more than ever, students depend on meaningful instructor feedback in order to improve their performance and deepen their learning. With the transition to remote/web-based learning, students who are unfamiliar with this mode of delivery are struggling. Research has shown that some students who are more used to traditional didactic teaching approaches can have trouble adapting to online learning due to motivation, low computer self-efficacy, and computer experience (Hasan 2003; Kemp & Grieve 2014). These students, in particular, may need more consistent feedback throughout the term to keep on track.
Yet, how can instructors continue to offer substantive feedback while managing unprecedented demands on their time and attention?
Good feedback takes time, especially if you’re teaching a large class. In a perfect world, an instructor would have the time to provide specific, personalized feedback to all students in a 200-person class on a regular, ongoing basis. In reality, this just isn’t feasible. But, there are ways to make feedback a little more manageable, whether you’re teaching 200 students or 20.
While individual feedback is essential, it’s not necessary in every single instance. Feedback given to the class as a whole can also be beneficial. Instructors can use this method to highlight exemplary work or correct general misunderstandings. Use the Announcement tool in Canvas to broadcast a message to the class about the great discussion they had that day, their overall performance on an assignment, or to reinforce their respect and attention given to a guest speaker – just to name a few examples.
Create Feedback Groups
One consideration that can make providing feedback more manageable is knowing that not all students are the same, and therefore not all students need the same level of feedback. However, an instructor might be able to give feedback in a more efficient way by grouping students based on their needs in order to deliver targeted and meaningful coaching. Instead of sending messages to each individual student, group like students and target the feedback to the group. Perhaps each of the students in one of these groups are struggling with the same concept, or perhaps they all scored below a certain percentage on the midterm, or each of them has mastered the content and is bored. You can use the features in Canvas to send messages tailored to a certain subset of your class in order to save time; that extra time can be used to craft better, more meaningful feedback.
When instructors do need to provide individual feedback, rubrics can help streamline the process, while providing transparency and consistency. This is especially helpful if the feedback is coming from multiple sources, like GEs or Graders.
Although it takes time to create a rubric, time is saved in the long run as grading and feedback are streamlined. Once created, a rubric can be re-used on different assignments or in different classes with minor adjustments. Canvas allows for the creation and use of rubrics on Assignments and assessments.
Some of the benefits of using rubrics
- They clearly articulate to students the guidelines and benchmarks for an assignment or assessment so there is less ambiguity – this can also cut down on time spent addressing confusion and questions over grading.
- They provide a mechanism for both structured feedback (scores) and free-form feedback (comments), which can address the needs of students with different preferences.
- They help students to recognize how an assignment or assessment addresses the learning objectives of the course.
- They facilitate the reliable scoring of performance assessments – especially when analytic, specific, and enhanced by rater training (Jonsson & Svingby 2007)
- They can provide students with a tool for self-assessment and can be used in peer feedback.
Creating formative quizzes, whether in the Canvas Quiz tool or in Panopto videos, allows for immediate feedback to students on low-stake assessments. Instructors can include as much detail as they need on both the right answer and any distractors. Good formative assessments include feedback that is timely, specific, non-evaluative, and related to the learning goals. These small, manageable touch-points provide students either with confirmation that they’ve understood the material correctly or information/means to remediate the learning. The feedback can also be used to challenge their response in order to prompt them to think about the question/material in a new way. By building this pre-scripted feedback into a quiz, the instructor frees themselves from having to respond to each student individually, yet the students still receive individual feedback on their choices.
Panopto allows an instructor to add quiz questions throughout a video. The settings allow for “correct answer explanation,” which is a meaningful space to deepen student learning and ask them to engage further. Consider linking to research, instructing the student to review a course text, follow-up in a discussion forum, or contact the instructor/GE. It’s important to note that whether the student answers correctly or incorrectly, the information typed in this field will be on view for all students.
The Canvas SpeedGrader tool allows for the quick and streamlined addition of feedback to student assignment submissions or graded discussions. In addition to assigning a grade, SpeedGrader has built-in features for providing feedback, including a comment box for text or tools for recording audio, video, speech-to-text comments, and the ability to attach further documentation such as a scored rubric. In particular, the video feedback option can be particularly helpful, as much of communication is non-verbal. A video recording can provide a more nuanced and meaningful response to student work and allows for the demonstration or correction of behavior as well. For example, an instructor in Music records a video of correct piano riffs in response to students’ videos of their own playing.
Peer feedback is a strategy that benefits both the instructor and the student. Research has shown that peer feedback can add significant value to the learning experience by encouraging the development of higher-level thinking skills (Liu et al., 2001). In processing the information needed to provide critical feedback, students are moving beyond the skills needed to complete the task/behavior and are forced to analyze and synthesize the material in order to critique the work. This can also help develop the skill of self-reflection when comparing their work to others’.
Using peer feedback can also be a way to increase students’ behavior/performance on a task. For example, peer feedback can be used to enhance the quality of students’ posts on discussion boards, which are an important component of interactive remote or online classes (Ertmer et al., 2007).
Canvas provides a mechanism for peer review of Assignments with online submissions. Instructors can assign peers manually or have Canvas automatically assign them, as well as having the choice to make the reviews anonymous. Since Assignments support text submissions, media recordings, and website URLs, there are many applications in which this tool can be used, including dance, media, and web development classes. Additionally, there are numerous ways for students to share work on other applications. For example, using a Padlet, a Microsoft Sway project, or an online slide deck to allow students to upload artwork or images of physical projects for peer comment.
Using peer-to-peer feedback is a way for instructors to build in more opportunities for students to receive feedback and engage actively in their learning, without placing an additional burden on the instructor’s time. Additionally, peer feedback can be used in variety of ways, including the critique of writing, art, performances, problem-solving, and technical projects. Finally, providing students with an opportunity to practice giving feedback and reflecting on feedback received helps to build professional skills.
Have a question about how you can enhance student learning by giving feedback remotely in your courses?
To read about how UO Instructors are providing feedback in their classes, check out Spotlight on Creative Instruction: Giving Feedback on Students’ Work.
For additional ideas on giving feedback, see the blog post on The Importance of Grading and Giving Feedback and this recording of a TEP/UO Online workshop on using the Canvas Gradebook.
Ertmer, Peggy A., Jennifer C. Richardson, Brian Belland, Denise Camin, Patrick Connolly, Glen Coulthard, Kimfong Lei, and Christopher Mong, (2007). Using Peer Feedback to Enhance the Quality of Student Online Postings: An Exploratory Study, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(1), 412–433.
Hasan, Bassam. (2003). The influence of specific computer experiences on computer self-efficacy beliefs. Computers in Human Behavior, 19(4), 443-450.
Jönsson, Anders & Svingby, Gunilla. (2007). The use of scoring rubrics: Reliability, validity and educational consequences. Educational Research Review. 2. 130-144.
Kemp, N., & Grieve, R. (2014). Face-to-face or face-to-screen? Undergraduates’ opinions and test performance in classroom vs. online learning. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 1278.
Eric Zhi-Feng Liu, S. S. J. Lin, Chi-Huang Chiu and Shyan-Ming Yuan. (2001). Web-based peer review: the learner as both adapter and reviewer. IEEE Transactions on Education. 44(3), 246-251.