Grades are an essential indicator to your students of how they are doing in your class, and the quality and timeliness of feedback you provide along with grades impacts student learning, motivation, and success. On this page you’ll find a few tips for giving effective feedback, including multimodal feedback. See the Grading rubric strategy page for information on designing and building effective grading rubrics.
Characteristics of good feedback
Consider the following characteristics of good feedback provided by Dr. Gavan Watson, Vice President of Teaching and Learning at Memorial University of Newfoundland:
- Specific: Good feedback is specific and focused on a few items that the student can change the next time to make the most impact. General comments should be avoided. Provide feedback with tools for improvement. While evaluating student work, ask questions such as “What worked well?” and “What needs improvement” to guide your feedback.
- Actionable: Offer concrete suggestions and emphasize what could be done differently the next time, rather than what the student did “wrong” the first time.
- Timely: The most effective feedback is immediate and frequent, tied specifically to the event being evaluated, and provided in time for students to incorporate it for the next assessment.
- Respectful: Effective feedback will look for the good while still focusing on future solutions. Communicate at least one thing the student did well, and use “I” statements, such as “I did not understand the relationship between X and Y” rather than “You did not demonstrate the relationship between X and Y.”
General tips for effective feedback
Liebold & Schwarz (2015) provide the following tips on giving effective feedback that can help to inform your approach to grading and giving feedback on assignments in WebCampus.
- Address students by name: For example, “Arya, the font selected for the PowerPoint presentation is easy to read. Good choice!”
- Provide regular and frequent feedback: It can be helpful to set up a pattern for providing feedback to learners. For example, every week by Wednesday for the previous week and with-in 72 hours after an assignment deadline.
- Provide immediate feedback: Research shows that prompt feedback is much more likely to be useful to student learning, and is essential to student engagement in your course. As a general rule, aim to provide feedback within 72 hours of discussions and within one week for paper/project assignments.
- Provide specific feedback: For example, “The second paragraph on page 4 includes helpful information that is explained in clear terms. The information in this paragraph should have a source citation and reference on the reference page. Good job using Times New Roman 12 point and double spacing the entire APA document.”
- Provide balanced feedback: Be sure to note what the student is doing well as well as areas for improvement. For example, “Kai, great job with including APA source citation. For APA format, place a comma after the author name and before the year. The APA for the corresponding reference on the reference page is correct! Good work!”
- Maintain a positive tone: Two-thirds of the feedback should be positive and point out what is correct. Create a feedback tone that inspires the learner to use the comments to improve future work.
- Ask questions to promote thinking: For example, “Great job with the definition of the concept. What are some examples of the concept you could describe in the paper after the definition to help clarify the meaning?”
For more tips on being efficient and effective in your feedback see: Smith and Maher Palenque (2015), “Ten tips for more efficient and effective grading.” Faculty Focus.
In addition to providing written comments on student work, you may want to try the media and audio options for giving feedback available in WebCampus. In Speedgrader you can record and upload video and audio files to provide more personalized feedback to an individual student. If there are common issues many students are struggling with, you may want to post feedback to all students as a video sent within an announcement.
For more information on video feedback and its value to student learning see: Mathisen, P. (2012, February). Video feedback in higher education: A contribution to improving the quality of written feedback. Nr 02 – 2012 – Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy.
Brookhart, S. (2008). How to Give Effective Feedback to your Students (1st ed.). Association for Supervision & Curriculum.
Jones, R. (2014, January 10). The Need for Balanced Feedback. Faculty Focus.
Liebold, N., & Schwarz, L. M. (2015). The art of giving online feedback. The Journal of Effective Teaching, 15(1), 34–46.
Weimer, M. (2017, June 30). How Students Perceive Feedback. Faculty Focus.