Giving Students Feedback – myths and misunderstandings

[graphic from turnitin.com]

It is midterm at many colleges around the country and here at Mott Community College, as well. This makes it a perfect time to reflect upon a recent report published by turnitin.com whose slogan is “Prevent Plagiarism. Engage Students.” The article, titled Instructor Feedback Writ Large: Student Perceptions on Effective Feedback provides some interesting insights into the general disconnect between what instructors THINK students want to see in the way of feedback, and what the students say they want.

While it has long been recognized as a valuable practice towards improving student success, writing effective feedback takes time. And faculty are often loathe to spend more time on an activity that they believe students do not value. But here, the authors of the turnitin.com study show, is where one of the first disconnects occurs. According to their study, as many as 70% of students see written of typed feedback as being effective. Unfortunately, only a minority (39%) of faculty believe that to be the case.

When it comes to face-to-face feedback, the majority of both students and faculty believe that this form of feedback is “very” or “extremely effective.” But apparently only 30% of students indicate that they are receiving feedback this way.

It was interesting to note that – while appreciated – high praise was not necessarily valued by students as much as other forms of feedback such as suggestions for improvement (4.04 on a scale of 1-5). And this is where some of the highest disconnect seemed to exist between faculty and students. For example, only 33% of faculty believed that general overall comments were effective, while nearly 67% of students felt this type of feedback was very useful. But in some regards, the faculty and students were not as far apart as the article headlines would suggest. The faculty and students seemed to indicate some agreement when it came to some of the types of feedback. For instance, 59% of educators felt that “suggestions for improvement” were “very” or “extremely effective” while 76% of students felt this way. And when it came to the use of examples, both groups came very close, nearly 66% of educators and 69% of students felt this type of feedback was “very” or “extremely effective.”

Read the full whitepaper here. [You’ll have to sign up for free access.]

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About Mara Jevera Fulmer

I am an educator, artist, scholar, and life-long learner with an insatiable curiosity. For those interested in the alphabet soup, I have a Ed.D., MFA, MA, and BA. My highest degree is in Education and Community College Leadership and my dissertation was on the role of the creative arts in student success for non-arts majors. My previous studies were in the arts from Photography/Journalism (BA) and then Advertising Design (MA), and Studio Art/Design (MFA). Visit my other links for insights into my creative work.

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