Best Practices: Creating Effective Feedback for Your Learners

According to research, learners don’t classify a course as either “good” or “bad” based on instructor preparedness, instructor organization, or even the level of interaction within the course.

The one item that distinguishes a course as being exemplary is the level of helpful feedback the learners receive on their progress. Feedback both to and from learners encourages learning and course improvement. In this blog post, we take a look at what feedback is, how to write it effectively, and explore some useful tools you can use in your learning management system (LMS) to improve the process.

What Is Feedback?

Feedback is information provided to students through some form of assessment about the difference between the expected and the actual level of learning. Useful feedback gives learners information about this difference and provides them with strategies to lessen it. The feedback provided by an instructor should result in an eager, engaged, and self-motivated learner who wants to make every effort to better their performance. Effective feedback:

  • Provides the opportunity to improve performance.
  • Reinforces the course goals and objectives.
  • Fosters communication about learning between the instructor and the learner.
  • Encourages the use of self-assessment.
  • Supports positive self-esteem.

MORE ABOUT FEEDBACK | ‘Best Practices With Marking Guide: Providing Fuller, Faster, and More Frequent Feedback

Providing Authentic Feedback

Learners can become discouraged and motivation can be decreased if instructors provide feedback that is too brief, too negative, too difficult to understand, or does not provide enough direction on how to do things differently in order to improve performance.

Effective feedback should be:

  • Provided frequently
  • Extremely detailed
  • Focused on learner performance (not personality or effort)
  • Given when learners still have the opportunity for improvement
  • Directly related to the goals of the assignment and the pre-determined criteria (rubrics or checklists)

If you want your learners to take your feedback and implement it, you need to make sure that you take the learner’s work seriously (no matter how poor the quality may be). Establishing a connection to what the learner was attempting to do (even if unsuccessfully) is of utmost importance. You’ll also want to give authentic and concrete suggestions for improvement.

Consider These Tips When Writing Feedback:

  • Start with something good. Students want to know that they’ve done at least one thing right. If they see you’ve noted their good work, they’ll be more likely to accept the improvements you’re suggesting.
  • Focus on the product, not the person. Give specifics about the level of knowledge the product displays. Don’t judge the learner’s attempt or past work. Avoid using absolute phrases such as "You never..." or "You always...".
  • Give specific examples for change. Give detailed examples of how the learner can improve their work. This might include showing a learner how they can re-write a sentence to better convey their point or use correct punctuation and grammar.
  • Encourage improvement. Instill in the learner your belief in their ability to improve. Mention specific examples of products or resources that the learner can use to assist their improvement.

YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN | ‘The Secret to Learner Engagement Revealed: How to Enhance the Student Online Learning Experience

Using Open LMS Tools to Provide Authentic Feedback

Open LMS provides a number of tools useful in the feedback process. Consider how the following three ideas could be incorporated into tools and processes you may already be implementing.

Use Advanced Forums

Using the Advanced forum's private reply feature gives you an opportunity to comment on a specific user's post, allowing only you and the user to see it and creating a feedback opportunity directly inside of the forum. Simply check the Private reply box before saving changes when replying.

When using the private reply function, indicate to the learner that the post is private and that the other participants have no indication that a reply was made. Consider using this tool to guide a learner on how to communicate effectively in a forum without the rest of the class seeing the discussion, or to direct feedback to a learner on a specific post.

LEARN MORE | ‘Best Practices: Increasing Usability With Joule's Advanced Forums

Give Feedback in the Grader Tool

Sharing ideas or suggestions during the revision process is essential when encouraging student growth. The Open LMS grader tool allows for the viewing and posting of comments between the grader and learner on Assignment and Advanced forum activities. These comments display in the participants' user report as well. Use it to leave detailed feedback about an activity submission, describing the reasoning for the student's grade.

Ask for Feedback

The Feedback activity allows you to create a survey-type assessment for asking specific questions that can be answered anonymously by your participants. It’s often used to evaluate if the class material and facilitation are meeting the goals of the course. Consider using it throughout the term to gather feedback from students.

Conducting an initial course survey allows you to find out what objectives the students have for the course. A midterm check-in helps you determine if the course communication and facilitation are clear and effective and a final course evaluation ensures subject goals have been met.

Want to see these feedback tools in action? Request a demo or contact us to learn more about Open LMS and how it can help you offer innovative learning solutions.

Discover our solutions