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.
|The Feedback was…||Mean||Broad Agreement||Mean||Broad Agreement||Mean||Broad Agreement|
|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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.