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Top tips for efficient and effective online feedback

Dr. Amy Robertson
Dr. Amy Robertson from DELTA provides her top tips to academic staff for providing online feedback.

As we enter the marking season in these unfamiliar circumstances – it is important that staff maintain their wellbeing. Maximising the impact for students and making the best use of your valuable time is key. The current situation might encourage you to try new practices with regards to feedback. I have compiled some tips below which might support you with your upcoming marking.

  • Before starting it might be useful to map out the ‘way’ or structure of your feedback
    Targeting the feedback helps you to comment on the most important areas for learning. Longer feedback is not better feedback! Quality feedback is often considered to include 3 dimensions:
    • Orientational – Clarifies the students approach to assessment with relation to learning outcomes/assessment criteria.
    • Interpersonal – Increases confidence, motivation and builds relationships. Remind the student of what they did well.
    • Transformational – Promotes reflection, enhances understanding, improves subsequent performance, increases autonomy in the future. What does the student need to do to ‘get better’?
  • Make use of audio and/or video feedback
    Audio-feedback can make good use of tone of voice, encouraging facial gestures, speed of speech and body language. This is great on a one-one basis, but you may not have enough time to do this. Using these technologies, detailed feedback can also be packaged up to reach multiple students – such as a class or group. Recording a session on ‘common areas for improvement’ (remembering anonymity) for example could be shared to the whole class.
  • Provide a ‘space’ for sharing of feedback
    This could be an online session where students can discuss their experiences and feedback following an assessment. The idea is much the same as students grouping together to chat about their feedback the way they might have done on-campus. You could ask the student class representative to provide you with any outstanding questions from the discussion ‘space’ to address any particular pinch points. Feedback is all part of opening a dialogue.
  • Try to expand upon ‘final language’
    Final language includes words such as ‘excellent’, ‘good’, ‘poor’, ‘adequate’, ‘satisfactory’. These words often do not give any direct ‘feed-forward’ to students and are merely judgements rather than real feedback. They need further explanation - including an example where possible. This might take a little bit more time, but the increased learning gain for students will be worth it.

There are so many great assessment practices already happening in our learning community. You might want to visit our dedicated staff support pages on CampusMoodle - Supporting Online Learning & Assessment to continue the conversation. Take care and be kind to yourself.

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