4. Give prompt feedback

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It seems that students have shorter attentions spans than ever, and with some justification. "Generation Instant Gratification" has never had to wait for anything. Although the Seven Principles date back to the late 1970s and 80s the principle of Prompt feedback is as important as ever.

Fortunately, technology provides some relief - Self-grading quizzes, comments and annotated assignments, chat, all allow students to work at their own pace AND receive prompt feedback. This can be a big help in the 24 / 7 world where today's students live, work and learn.


The earliest implementations of technology in education was the dreaded "drill and kill" - an endless stream of multiple choice that students answered, usually by guessing. Used in conjuction with other activities and good teaching practices, online quizzes can be a valuable learning resource. Prompt feedback can be provided automatically with self-grading quizzes. Students appreciate the immediacy. By using the feedback to reinforce correct answers, and providing references to teaching for incorrect responses, students can be guided through the lesson material.

On instructor-graded assignments, you can add comments and annotating to help students understand where they lost points in an assignment. Course management systems are constructed to provide a variety of tools for assessing student learning. These are just a few.

Students say...

  • I love being able to check my grades anytime. It helps me make sure I have submitted all my assignments.
  • I learn more taking quizzes and getting the wrong answer feedback. Having review information and extra help right in the quiz is great.
  • I am always nervous about quizzes. Taking quizzes online is much better for me.
  • The instructor notes in the assignments along with the grade shows me how I can improve.
  • assignments that ask us to comment on our peers' work really does help you get to know each other. After a while, you tend to remember certain people, such as those who post their work the earliest, or those who respond to your work the most often, or who is more interested in what topic. In its subtle way, the assignments for this class have allowed me to get to know more students

Enhancing Instruction

How prompt is "prompt" when applied to feedback? Unfortunately, for instructors in this "always on" world, students' expectations may need to be reset so that 2-3 day turn around on minor assignments is "normal".

Replying to student questions within 24 hours is a reasonable expectation.

Assignment grades

There is a Grades link in the left navigation menu. The Grades page lists all the assignments, quizzes, etc. that will be graded throughout the quarter.

Grades are always available. If there isn't a grade for a submitted assignment, it hasn't been graded. I usually grade assignments within a couple of days of the due date. Late assignments are graded periodically as it requires extra processing.

Peer review

In some situations, peer review can be a valuable addition to the learning process. Students often learn as much reviewing the work of others as they do preparing their own work, or having their own work reviewed. Posting work to discussions or a collaborative writing tool like a wiki allows for easy access for sharing and comment.

Web conferencing

The CCC Confer online meeting facility is available to all California Community College faculty and students. Use the phone and the internet to meet in real-time. Great for lectures with audio, slides whiteboard, and audience poling. CCC Confer can be used for whole class discussions, small group work, individual counseling, or office hours. CCC Confer was designed to allow communication and collaboration, using Web conferencing technology, for all staff, faculty and administrators in the California Community Colleges system. It is ADA and Section 508 accessible. CCC Confer http://cccconfer.org/about/about.aspx

Top 100 tools

Set up a blog, website and/or wiki. You won't necessarily need all three; but here are the ways to get a web presence

Bloom's Taxonomy Blooms Digitally

Analyzing: Comparing, organizing, deconstructing, Attributing, outlining, finding, structuring, integrating, Mashing, linking, reverse-engineering, cracking, mind-mapping, validating, tagging. Bloom's Taxonomy Blooms Digitally http://www.techlearning.com/story/showArticle.php?articleID=196605124

Teaching and Learning

Prompt feedback encourages students to stay engaged in the learning process. Reducing the time between thinking of questions or seeing solutions presented in class, the time to remember where the learning left off is greatly reduced.

Discussion Subscriptions

Many discussion forums have a subscription feature. If someone posts to a discussion that you subscribe to, you automatically are sent an email with some or all of the information in the new posts. There are several variations and options that usually accompany the subscriptions feature - daily digest, summary or full text of posts, subscribe to all topics within a forum, or just replys to something you posted.

You can change the general forum subscription settings in your profile. Check the options in the post form when you post - you have some additional control over the "subscribe" function there.

Everyone seems to have personal preferences about the "best" subscription setting. Try different configurations and options. See what works for you and your course needs.

Instructor comments

Students like to know why they got points, as well as how they missed them. Instructor notes along with the assignment grade are accommodated as part of the regular point-assignment grading mechanism.

There are a number of features within the assignment grading to streamline grading student work. Separate windows, automatically displaying the next student's assignment, sorting submissions by time submitted, are just a few of the tools to assist instructors and reduce the time and key strokes required to manage student work.

Students are sent notification when instructor comments are added to the assignment. It looks like this.

07M_0202 -> Assignments -> Games in Education
Valerie Taylor has posted some feedback on your assignment submission for 'Games in Education'
You can see it appended to your assignment submission:

Assignment markup

For some assignments, it may be appropriate to annotate directly on the student's assignment submission. There is an option to permit this which must be enabled, if you wish to use the tool. Usually, the instructor can add notes as a separate item (much like posting in a discussion). Only the student and the instructor can view these. With the markup option enabled, the instructor can actually edit the student submission.

Learn more...

..return to Technology Supported Learning#4. Give prompt feedback and complete the activities - Explore, Learn and Apply