One of the perennial challenges that faculty face whether teaching online or face-to-face is providing timely and meaningful feedback to students on their assignments and exams. This is important because students need to be able to learn from their assessment experiences. If they score well, this reinforces that they have adequately mastered the materials and they can confidently move forward. If they score poorly, it may indicate that they need to revisit the content again, or will need to modify their study habits in order to improve their performance in the remainder of the class. In the online environment, automatic grading can be a helpful tool – providing students with instant feedback on their performance. It is important, however, to also provide substantive feedback on essay exams and other written work. Below are a few suggestions to consider as you build assessment tools into your online class:
- When you create a test that is automatically graded, make use of the “feedback” options. There is a box for feedback on correct answers, which can simply provide positive reinforcement: “good answer!”. There is also a box for incorrect answers. So if a student misses a question, your automatic feedback might say something like: “This is not the correct answer, you should go back and review section 1.1 in Chapter 1 before starting the next unit”. This allows custom feedback based on performance, but does not require extra work on the your part.
- Make sure that your settings in the test builder allow students to see what they got wrong. This helps them learn from their mistakes. There are lots of setting options based on instructor preferences. Feedback might be given immediately or after the testing period is over, it might provide the correct answer or not, etc.
- Draft several ‘standard responses’ to essay questions, then cut and paste these to students as appropriate. “Good answer, but there are some additional things to note: ___” This way, students who fall short can understand where they missed the mark, but you don’t have to type personal responses to every one of them. You can also craft these comments to drive home an important lesson that you want to make sure students understand regardless of the answer that they provide.