One of the most important elements in any course is providing students with formative and summative feedback about their performance and progress. Consistent, ongoing, and detailed feedback can have a positive effect on student success in online courses, specifically with regard to increasing student self-confidence, self-efficacy, and self-esteem. Self-confidence refers to a student’s belief in him or herself, while self-efficacy refers to a student’s estimation that they can succeed at a specific task or tasks within a given domain. According to Tina Stavredes in Effective Online Teaching: Foundations and Strategies for Student Success, “self-efficacy influences the effort that learners put forth, how long they persist at a task when confronted with obstacles, and how they feel about the task” (p. 63). Both self-confidence and self-efficacy directly contribute to a student’s overall self-esteem: “If students can relate their effort with their success, their self-esteem is positively affected” (Chakraborty & Nafukho, 2014).
When creating feedback for students individually and as a class, you can build student confidence by stressing effort over ability, as effort is something within the students’ control (Stavredes, 2011, p. 160). This is an important concept in providing supportive feedback and direction, as the feedback that is communicated to students can be either a key motivator or discouragement (Stavredes, 2011, p. 160). Specific, concise, and actionable feedback goes beyond simply posting a grade or level of achievement, and instead offers students personalized strategies for activating prior knowledge, improving performance, and/or maintaining success.
One of the many benefits of providing personal and detailed feedback to students in online classes is the ability to enhance and strengthen the student to instructor interaction and relationship. Students typically value constructive feedback from their instructors, as the feedback can be perceived as a means of establishing interpersonal and social relationships within the course. This is especially beneficial for students who may be reluctant or uncomfortable with approaching instructors who may feel isolated in the online environment.
Providing feedback that is timely and relevant is also key for empowering students to use the feedback to not only evaluate their current performance, but also to incorporate into their future performance. Delayed or untimely feedback can result in students not valuing the feedback process or the feedback itself. The same can be said for offering students generic, impersonal feedback. The investment of time is almost always a concern for faculty when it comes to grading and constructing feedback for students.
Effectively using technology to assist and enhance the feedback process can be a successful time management strategy. In the article Benefits of Using Audio and Video Comments in Canvas SpeedGrader, Carla Stellrecht (2018) notes that providing feedback on an assignment submission via media comments in the Canvas SpeedGrader tool offers opportunities to reinforce instructional terms and references as well as increase a connection with students.
Recording an audio message can be a great way for instructors to communicate feedback that might have otherwise been given in person. It can also be motivating to students to hear their instructor’s voice and receive feedback in a way that might feel more informal.
When giving feedback on a project or assignment with heavy visuals, it might be helpful for instructors to create a video interacting with the student’s work. This kind of feedback can include audio feedback, a screen recording, and a camera recording of the instructor. Showing students what the instructor is seeing and noticing about their work can be extremely powerful. Instructors should keep accessibility concerns in mind if choosing to leave feedback in this way, noting when students might not be able to access or engage with visuals. Below are two options for providing audio and video feedback in Canvas:
- Canvas SpeedGrader allows instructors to record audio or video comments when grading assignments
- Canvas Discussions forums also allow instructors to record audio or video comments
In a study on the efficiency of providing video feedback to students, Crook et al. (2012) found that not only did students find video feedback to be “easy/clear to understand in comparison to normal methods of feedback…[students] suggested that the feedback was more extensive, informative, the key points were better emphasized and that it aided their visualization of the task through demonstrations and/or diagrams” (p. 391). In this same study it was found that “in general, video was found to take a similar amount of time [for instructors to create] to other methods of generic feedback provision” (Crook et al, 2012, p. 390).
This is not to say that audio and video should replace written feedback, but rather that these types of feedback can enhance the overall feedback process which directly impacts instructor presence and student performance. Based on the assessment being evaluated, one or more types of feedback, including written, audio, and video might be utilized in order to communicate which areas of their performance students should focus on or prioritize.
Regardless of the type of feedback being provided to students, it is important to communicate the purpose of the feedback and the process through which it will be delivered. This will help provide direction to students about how to interact with their individual feedback so that they can get the most out of it while potentially contributing to instructor presence and student self-confidence, self-efficacy and self-esteem. If you have further questions or curiosities about constructing and delivering feedback to students, please contact your Instructional Designer for assistance.
Chakraborty, M., & Nafukho, F. M. (2014). Strengthening student engagement: what do students want in online courses?. European Journal Of Training & Development, 38(9), 782-802. doi:10.1108/EJTD-11-2013-0123
Crook, A., Mauchline, A., Maw, S., Lawson, C., Drinkwater, R., Lundqvist, K., & … Park, J. (2012). The use of video technology for providing feedback to students: Can it enhance the feedback experience for staff and students?. Computers & Education, 58386-396. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.08.025
Stavredes, T. (2011). Effective online teaching: Foundations and strategies for student success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Stellrecht, C. (2018). Benefits of using audio and video comments in Canvas SpeedGrader: U-M LSA LSA Technology Services. LSA. https://lsa.umich.edu/technology-services/news-events/all-news/search-news/archive/benefits-of-using-audio-and-video-comments-in-canvas-speedgrader.html