Teaching Tip: Connecting Students to Feedback

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The PLC (Professional Learning Community) will be providing the teaching tip of the week throughout the academic year in support of their goal of interdisciplinary collegiality.

Do your students know where to find their assignment feedback? When using a robust Learning Management System such as Blackboard, faculty have several options of how and where to leave feedback for students. Remarks for assignments where students upload documents into the LMS can be made directly on the document and made available for student viewing or they can be made using the Inline Grading function in Blackboard. Rubrics associated with assignments have text boxes for comments within the rubric. There is also a “Feedback to Learner” text box for overall/ summary comments. Faculty have the option of choosing whether or not the rubrics and associated comments will be viewable by the student. This setting is “behind the scenes” where many individuals who grade in Blackboard may not be able to access. It’s not unusual for graders to use the comment areas within the rubric, not realizing their students will not be able to view them if this option is selected.

Since the options used vary from course to course and grader to grader, it’s no wonder that students sometimes have trouble locating assignment feedback. Using a proactive approach can help lessen the frustration for the student. Standardizing the use of one feedback format may help, but can be difficult since feedback is not a “one size fits all” concept. For example, always using comments within the associated rubric will give the student a consistent place to look, yet that is probably not the most effective method for feedback on a formal paper, where Inline Grading may be a better option. One option is to always use the “Feedback to Learner” area to give summative information as well as information regarding where the student will find specific assignment feedback. If you give any sort of feedback to the class regarding their overall performance on assignments, this is another opportunity to make sure they know where to find the individualized feedback.

Individualized feedback is an important part of learning, and students should not need to embark on a “search and rescue” mission to locate it. How will you proactively approach the issue?

~Pam White, plwhite@uta.edu, Program Manager of Undergraduate Clinical Facilities Coordination, College of Nursing

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