“Feeling Seen and Appreciated”: Student Feedback Preferences

Guest Bloggers: Candy Noltensmeyer and Lisa Bloom

Feedback is an integral part of the learning process. Many studies have examined feedback from the instructor’s perspective to enhance student learning. However, there is less research assessing how students perceive different types of feedback and their usefulness. 

Feedback is often a struggle for professors as it can be quite time consuming. Additionally, faculty are often left not knowing whether students have reviewed the feedback. On the other hand, some of us have heard students complain about the lack of feedback from professors. This leads us to wonder what kind of feedback students actually want.

Well, we asked students the question, and they responded with only minimal reminders to complete our survey!  We asked students about 3 specific types of feedback, written, audio, and video, and what they liked, disliked, and how each type made them feel. Additionally, we asked them to rate whether the feedback was engaging, easy to access, and easy to understand. Participants from courses in Education, Communication, and Integrated Health Sciences responded to Likert-type questions on a scale of 1-5 as well as open-ended questions.  

What we learned

Overall, students reported a preference for video feedback. While accessibility and understanding were ranked slightly higher for written feedback, video and audio closely followed. Students struggled a bit with accessing audio files. Students mentioned that replaying audio and video files was a bit cumbersome when searching for specific feedback, while they preferred the ease of skimming written feedback. But when it came to engagement, students really preferred video feedback. Most striking is the overwhelming number of comments about feeling connection and care from the feedback, audio and video in particular.

Topic Audio   Video   Written  
The Feedback was… Mean Broad Agreement Mean Broad Agreement Mean Broad Agreement
Engaging 4.40 86% 4.59 91.9% 4.12 78.7%
Easy to Access 4.05 76.2% 4.65 91.9% 4.67 93.9%
Easy to Understand 4.51 90.7% 4.68 91.9% 4.52 92.9%

Here is what the students told us.

Audio feedback

“It made me feel proud of my work and happy to do such a good job on it. I enjoyed hearing the professor’s enthusiasm.”

“I liked how I was able to hear your tone and it was much easier to understand compared to reading off feedback (sometimes it’s confusing on paper).”

“I enjoyed hearing my professor’s voice- especially with this course being delivered in an asynchronous, online fashion. I enjoyed the verbal insights!”

“It felt much more personalized. Rather than a few words, or sentences that seem pretty generic, the audio feedback really gave me that feeling that my work was being read and analyzed.”

Video feedback

“The video feedback just made me feel more seen and appreciated.”

“It made me feel like I was one on one with the professor and sometimes is hard to come by in college.”

“During COVID, it has been weird to not be able to see my professors’ faces, so it was nice to be able to fully see their faces. It also felt more personal and somewhat like a conversation even though the professor was the only one talking.”

“Made me feel like a student rather than just a number with a generic response.”

Written feedback

“I understand that professors can’t write a book of feedback every time they grade something, but it just never feels like enough to go off of. It feels like I am getting the bare minimum amount of help.”

“It feels detached from my work and I feel like there is not as much effort with written feedback.”

 

In summary, students do appreciate feedback.  They are looking for feedback not just regarding an assessment of their performance and how to improve, but feedback is also a vehicle for relationship building.  As you are grading your students’ work, consider the audio and video feedback options afforded by Canvas.  We found these options to take only a little extra time, and the results were definitely worth it. The benefit comes in building strong relationships with students which translates into more engaged learning and positive classroom environments.  Students perceived feedback as evidence that they have been seen, heard, and regarded as individuals amongst a sea of others.  So, while you might be swimming in ungraded assignments, remember, that your feedback has the potential to be the life preserver that keeps a student engaged.  

Writing Observable and Measurable Learning Outcomes

Learning outcomes help us identify and clarify the end point or destination of a learning experience.  If we don’t know where we are going, we can get lost or wander all over the place.  A course then becomes a bloated unorganized mess.

We use Fink’s Taxonomy for Significant Learning to create observable and measurable course learning outcomes.

This resource from the teaching center at the University of Buffalo provides a discussion of the taxonomy and how to use it to write your course outcomes.

https://www.buffalo.edu/catt/develop/design/learning-outcomes/finks.html 

Click on the image on the right to download a PDF version of the graphic

Small Teaching: Interleaving

3rd post of 9 in the Small Teaching Series

Small Teaching by J.M. Lang presents methods for making small changes in your teaching practices (hence the name) that can significantly improve your students’ learning. Each chapter provides the research-based evidence behind the practices Lang proposes so you can have confidence that Lang’s ideas work. The Coulter Faculty Commons will be boiling the Small Teaching chapters down into blog posts to provide instructors with concepts they can apply to a lesson, a class, or a course.

“A rose by any other name…” (from Romeo & Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2)



Interleaving

Lang had to call it something, so interleaving it is. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed that interleaving didn’t involve some sort of quantum-level warped space-time learning technique. The truth is a bit more mundane as Lang explained interleaving as, “… the practice of spending some time learning one thing and then pausing to concentrate on learning a second thing before having quite mastered that first thing, and then returning to the first thing, and then moving onto a third thing, and then returning to the second thing, and so forth. In short, it involves the process of both spacing and mixing learning activities— the spacing happening by virtue of the mixing” (Lang, 2016, p. 68). That’s not as cool as a tachyon generator powered by a bucket of dilithium, but infinitely more practical.

Lang noted the combination of interleaving and retrieval (covered in an earlier blog linked below) implies that all major exams should be cumulative (cue the student groans). This does not mean that the third major exam should be evenly divided between the material from the first two exams and the material from the third unit, but that each exam should harken back to what has previously been learned and assessed. The revisiting of material shouldn’t be limited to major exams either. Lang proposed three ways to work this concept into your classroom instruction:

  • Open each class session by posting a test question from a previous exam or a potential test question related to previous course content. Give students time to consider and discuss their answers.
  • Close class sessions by asking students to create a test question based on that day’s material and pose that question back to them in future class sessions.
  • Open or close class sessions by asking students to open their notebooks to a previous day’s class session and underline the three most important principles from that day; allow a few moments for a brief discussion of what they featured from their notes. (Lang, 2016, pp. 76–77)


In the section on Principles, Lang discusses last the value of explaining to your students the benefits of interleaving, how it is incorporated into the course assessments, and the nature of short- and long-term learning, but I think it is vital your students understand the reasoning behind your course design. If you don’t, interleaving may appear as a serious case of “this instructor doesn’t know what they are doing.”


To recap, here are the interleaving quick tips that Lang proposes:

  • Reserve a small part of your major exams (and even the minor ones, such as quizzes) for questions or problems that require students to draw on older course content.
  • Open or close each class session with small opportunities for students to retrieve older knowledge, to practice skills developed earlier in the course, or apply old knowledge or skills to new contexts
  • Create weekly mini-review session in which students spend the final 15 minutes of the last class session of the week applying that week’s content to some new question or problem.
  • Use quiz and exam questions that require students to connect new material to older material or to revise their understanding of previous content in light of newly learned material
  • In blended or online courses, stagger the deadlines and quiz dates to ensure that students benefit from the power of spaced learning.

    As always, if you’d like to discuss these or other ideas with the Coulter Faculty Commons you can schedule an appointment at https://affiliate.wcu.edu/cfc/consultations/
    Lang, J. M. (2016). Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hunter-ebooks/detail.action?docID=4455000

Small Teaching Blog Series
1: Retrieving 2: Predicting

Small Teaching: Predicting

2nd post of 9 in the Small Teaching Series

Small Teaching by J.M. Lang presents methods for making small changes in your teaching practices (hence the name) that can significantly improve your students’ learning.  Each chapter provides the research-based evidence behind the practices Lang proposes so you can have confidence that Lang’s ideas work.  The Coulter Faculty Commons will be boiling the Small Teaching chapters down into blog posts to provide instructors with concepts they can apply to a lesson, a class, or a course.

“Once more unto the breach…” (from Henry V, spoken by King Henry)

Lang references “the connected nature of knowledge” (p. 48) to clarify how prediction aids learning.  The example he offers is that of a comparison between a history student and a history professor.  Given the date 1865, a history student would recall that it was the year that the American Civil War ended.  A professor of history would also recall the events leading up to the surrender of the Confederate Army at Appomattox, Chamberlain’s rendering honors to the defeated troops, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the ultimate failure of Reconstruction, and countless other bits of information that are connected to that date.  The fact that the Civil War ended in 1865 is relatively useless in itself, but knowledge is derived through the “web of connections” surrounding that date.   Lang posits (and the research supports this) that when confronted with the need to answer a question (predict a result) with insufficient information compels the brain to seek out any possible related information on the subject.  This process creates and reinforces the connections in the brain and begins building knowledge.

Lang suggests the following methods to give your students the opportunity to refine their powers of prediction:

  • At the beginning of the class, unit, or course, give students a brief pretest on the material. For example, give an opening-week pretest that is similar in format to the final exam.
  • Prior to first content exposure, ask students to write down what they already know about that subject matter or to speculate about what they will be learning.
  • When presenting cases, problems, examples, or histories, stop before the conclusion and ask students to predict the outcome.
  • When you are teaching a new cognitive skill (e.g., writing in a new genre), let students try their hand at it (and receive feedback) before they feel ready.
  • Close class by asking students to make predictions about material that will be covered in the next class session (p. 60)

Of course, predicting doesn’t always result in a correct answer.  Our theoretical history student might have thought that 1865 was the year the Civil War began.  Lang cautions that immediate feedback (or as immediate as practical) is important to keep inaccurate facts from getting entrenched.  It also has the benefit of helping students identify gaps in their knowledge or as Lang put it, vaccinate them against the illusion of fluency.  In the case of a pretest, it also lets your students know what kind of information they will be assessed on in the future, so they can adjust their study practices appropriately.

Small Teaching is available in the library as an ebook and is one of this summer’s Beach Reads! Email John Hawes (jhawes@wcu.edu)  if you are interested in joining a casual reading group this summer!Summer Beach Reads

As always, if you’d like to discuss these or other ideas with the Coulter Faculty Commons you can schedule an appointment at https://affiliate.wcu.edu/cfc/consultations/

Lang, J. M. (2016). Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/hunter-ebooks/detail.action?docID=4455000

Summer Institute for Teaching & Learning (SITL)

It’s BACK!!

The Summer Institute of Teaching & Learning is back after a two year COVID hiatus. We will gather together in person on May 10 & 11th in HHS 204 for sharing and conversation.

We are keeping it low key this year. Come to relax, learn something new, and enjoy good food and conversation with your peers.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Sudhir Kaul, Professor, School of Engineering and Technology, and the 2022 UNC Board of Governor’s Teaching Award winner from WCU.

Lunch is provided on both days – registration is required.

Agenda:

Tuesday May 10: 

9:00-9:15 am –  Welcome  

9:15-10:00  –  Student Engagement in the Times of a Pandemic  Keynote: Dr. Sudhir Kaul, Professor, School of Engineering and Technology, BOG Teaching Award Winner, 2022

10:15 am-Noon  –   Workshop 1 – How to Engage with Students in any Modality

Noon-1:00pm   –    Lunch 

1:00-3:00pm  –    Workshop 2 – The First Steps: Instructional Design or Redesign

 Do you want to design or redesign an assignment, assessment, content, part of a course, or an entire course?  This interactive session will get you started with brainstorming and an action plan to get you through the summer

3 – 3:15 –     Summer Beach Read

3:15 – 3:30 – Sharing and Next Steps

 

Dr. Sudhir Kaul

Wednesday May 11:

9:00-11:30am –  Workshop 3 – Student Engagement through Assessment and Grading in Canvas

11:30am-12:30pm  – Lunch

12:30-3:00 pm – Workshop 4 – Undergraduate Students as Research Partners

3:00 – 3:30 pm – Sharing, Next Steps, and Closing

Registration

Use the QR code to access the registration form or https://wcu.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1FX4RGQqj1AjF54

 

Looking forward to seeing you!

SITL Registration

Summer Institute of Teaching & Learning

May 10 & 11, 2022

HHS 204

Use the QR code below or go to the Registration Form

QRQ code to register for SITL

CFC now accepting applications for 3 faculty fellowships for AY 22-23

CFC Faculty Fellows

We are excited to announce that the Coulter Faculty Commons is seeking applications and nominations for three Faculty Fellow positions for the 2022-23 Academic Year. We invite all full-time Tenure, Tenure-Track, and full-time Non-Tenure Track faculty members to join us in making an impact on teaching & learning at WCU.

For the upcoming year, the CFC is particularly interested in fellows who can develop and expand programming in the following areas:

DEI Inclusive Pedagogy

In support of the university’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, this fellow will work to develop a course design and teaching seminar in Canvas focusing on inclusive pedagogy and facilitate the seminar in the spring 2023 semester. The seminar will be in collaboration with the WCU DEI Community of Practice Training and Professional Development group.

 New Faculty Mentoring and Support

This faculty member will work with members of the Faculty Partners team in the CFC in mentoring/supporting new faculty during New Faculty Orientation and Faculty Forward, our yearlong symposium.  The Fellow will also be trained to facilitate the mid-semester Teaching Assessment Protocols as part of supporting new faculty. The fellow will also have input on content, resources, and opportunities for engaging new faculty, either new to teaching or new to WCU, and facilitate at least one of the monthly conversations.

Online Course Design and Pedagogy

Depending on the faculty member’s interest, this fellow will work on developing a mentoring program at WCU or take a lead in refining and co-facilitating the Online Course Design Institute and the Teaching Online with Impact Institute.  The mentoring program will start from the ground up and the Online Course Design and Pedagogy program will expand on the existing offerings the CFC has in place.

Details

The fellows will be working collaboratively with the Director, current members of the Coulter Faculty Commons, and various other constituents across campus. The fellow will have a dedicated working space in the CFC but can also work remotely, and will attend the Faculty Partners meetings each week. The estimated time commitment is 2-4 hours per week. The faculty selected for these positions will be provided with a $1000 stipend in each academic semester (Fall 2022 and Spring 2023) and a $500 stipend for one summer session.

 Apply

Applications for the 2022-2023 year will be accepted from all full-time Tenure, Tenure-Track, and full-time Non-Tenure Track faculty members. The application deadline is April 15, 2022.

purple button with apply now on it.

Completed applications should include a current vita, a brief letter of interest that clearly addresses the candidate’s qualifications and interest for the position, and a letter of support from the applicant’s chair or director. Applications should also clearly communicate the candidate’s intended area(s) of focus in at least one of the areas described above.

CFC Faculty Fellowships Applications are Open!

Completed applications should include a current vita, a brief letter of interest that clearly addresses the candidate’s qualifications and interest for the position, and a letter of support from the applicant’s chair or director. Applications should also clearly communicate the candidate’s intended area(s) of focus in at least one of the areas described above.

Applications are open through April 15, 2022

 Questions?

 Contact Dr. Eli Collins-Brown, Director, if you have any questions.  ecollins-brown@wcu.edu, or x7196.