Positive Feedback Ideas For Online Students


teacher speaking positively with a student

Feedback is very important when teaching online as it helps your students to improve their performance and increases their engagement. This article will show you how to provide your students with positive feedback. 

What to consider when providing great positive feedback:

  • Key Characteristics Of Feedback
  • The Personal Touch
  • Types of Feedback
    • Text Feedback
    • Audio Feedback
    • Video Feedback
    • Live Feedback
  • What to say
    • Be Specific
    • Use Examples
    • Be Positive
    • Keep to the Facts
    • Be Solution Focused
    • Provide Resources
    • Show Support
  • Software and Hardware Required
    • Text Feedback
    • Audio Feedback
    • Video Feedback
    • Live Feedback

Let’s find out how you can provide learners with well-prepared positive feedback.

Key Characteristics Of Feedback

Whenever you are providing feedback to students there are some key characteristics that you may want to think about.  Below we have listed these for you.

The key characteristics of feedback are:

  • Factual
  • Specific
  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Consistent

Factual

You should make sure that your feedback is based on factual information rather than behavioural.  This will stop your responses getting too emotional and the student thinking is a personality attack.  Then you can move on the behaviours that are causing this.

Specific

You need to be specific with each comment to address a single topic at a time so that the student knows what they can fix in the future.

Clear

Using a simple and appropriate level of language will help students understand exactly what you are talking about.  This included speaking to your audience and their educational level.

Concise

It is always a good idea to make your feedback concise. Long and wordy sentences are not suitable for educational feedback. Make sure you keep it short and simple. However, do not forget to include all the relevant points. 

Consistent

When you have many students in your class or course it is easy to provide lots of feedback on your first few and getting lazy with the last few.  Your students will talk to each other and you should rate the work and not the perceived view of the student. 

The Personal Touch

Students expect you to provide them with personalized feedback. This allows them to get a better understanding of what exactly they can improve and how they should do that. Lack of personal communication and feedback is one of the most common reasons why students drop out of online courses.

Always make sure you add a personal touch to the feedback you are sending to the students. This shows them you are putting a consistent amount of effort into developing their skills. Taking this into account enables you to increase their motivation and overall engagement in your course. 

Types of Feedback

There are four distinct types of feedback. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some are more time consuming to create but allow you to express your thoughts better. Some provide you with an avenue to build a better relationship with your students.

The 4 main types of feedback are:

  • Text 
  • Images
  • Audio
  • Video
  • Live

Let’s review each of these in more detail.

Text Feedback

This is probably the most common form of feedback online and while it is quick and easy for you to give it provides no real interactivity for the students.  It does not allow them to provide feedback or ask questions.

If you have heaps of students this is what you will probably choose.

Images

How are images feedback you may ask?  Well if a student submits work in a PDF format or for an assignment where the output is of a graphical nature this is how you might provide feedback.  The ability to draw on and mark up your students’ work is of great value as you can put the feedback directly on top of their assignment work.

There are a lot of Learning Management Systems that provide tools that allow for this type of feedback to be done.  Alternately you can just download it and use any graphics package like MSPaint or equivalent to provide the feedback.  If it was in Adobe PDF you can put it in using the inbuilt notation feature.

Audio Feedback

If you are not the quickest typer you could provide students with audio feedback that is far more personal than the two methods above.  It at least allows them to hear your voice and build the relationship with your students.  It is obviously not as good as video feedback but something you can do simply with your phone and upload to their assignments.  

The sound of your teacher’s voice going to the effort to provide more personal feedback is always more encouraging and motivates students.

Video Feedback

I know how scary it can be putting your face on camera but this will definitely set you apart from other people providing feedback to online students.  Nothing shows you care as much as providing video feedback.

Hopefully this is not the first time the students have seen you on camera or in real life.  I am assuming you are in the video tutorial training you provide so when they get your video feedback they will already be fairly engaged.

This style of feedback will definitely set you apart from other people teaching online and will no doubt be shown in your revenue and feedback.

Live Feedback

You can ask your students to join a one-on-one web conference so you can discuss all the relevant aspects of their work. Live feedback is the most interactive type of feedback available for online educators. This will give your students the feeling of attention that is often lacking in teaching online.

While you are spending 10-15 minutes with each student you can discuss your feedback in the previous forms and allow them to provide feedback and help them get better on future work.  You may not do this with small assessments but you definitely should be with every major  assignment.

What to say

Choosing the right words is very important when you review your students’ work. You must be clear, concise, focused and constructive in your feedback. I have learned through experience what aspects should be taken into account when providing feedback to learners. 

Below I have listed a set of 7 things you need to keep in mind to make sure your feedback is helpful.

Be Specific

I have seen in my educational life some good feedback from teachers, trainers and educators.  The most effective for me has been the feedback that is specific to what I can fix in the future.  Generalised feedback helps no-one and just shows how lazy a teacher is and that they don’t care about the outcome of their students. 

What You Should SayWhat You Should NOT Say
I specifically liked your use of your quotation marks for quotes and that you always sighted your references in APA format.  It was great to see they were from high quality peer reviewed works like…..Great research for this assignment.  Keep up the great work!

Use Examples

When you are providing feedback as well as being specific it is also good to use examples of what they could have done. Using real examples is the best way to show students what the standard is for the assignments as every grade level.  You should do this when you issue assignments and then you can refer back to them in your feedback.

What You Should SayWhat You Should NOT Say
When comparing your work to the amount of quality references supplied in the example assignments you can see that 2 references barely makes a Pass grade.  If you would like to do better in the future use the examples as a reference and include more references for a better mark.This is a great effort for a Credit based assignment.

Be Positive

If your students are making mistakes you do not have to behave like it is the end of the world. After all, correcting their issues is the reason why they enrolled in the first place. You should point out the positive aspects of their work and guide them with constructive criticism.

Never forget what it was like the first time you learnt about this subject and how you reacted to your teacher’s feedback.  How did that color your view of that subject moving forward and how much you liked it.

What You Should SayWhat You Should NOT Say
This was a great first effort and I think we have a great place to start from here.  For the next assignment how about meeting with me to discuss your referencing method and reviewing your assignment structure.  With a couple of tweaks we can easily raise your grade with each new assignment.You had poor grammar and spelling.  You changed First Person to Third Person throughout the assignment.  Your referencing was not done correctly and the references were of low quality.

NOTE: Remember that a teacher is not just judged by their best students but also their worst performing students as well.  It is important to think about whether this is a failing of your ability to properly explain to this student and support them on the assignment?

Keep to the Facts

When you are providing feedback as well as being specific you need to keep to the facts so as not to get emotional with students.  It is also showing the student things they can change.  There are times when you will need to discuss behavioural and emotional problems with students in subjects that require it.  Even then you will look at factual behaviour that can help them succeed.

NOTE: If it is a psychological concern then you will be forwarding it to the appropriate professional and anything else try to stick to the facts and behaviours they can change.

Be Solution Focused

It is so easy to dwell on the negatives and what they did wrong and it is more important from a student learning perspective to look at how you can help them learn.  Every method of assessment and interaction with students provides you with information about where that student is in their learning journey.  How do you get them from where they are now to where they need to be to succeed?

Provide Resources

Providing helpful resources is just as important as coming up with solutions. Make sure you point out relevant materials your students can use to improve their competencies. 

What You Should SayWhat You Should NOT Say
To make use of scientifically proven facts you can take a look at the following websites:
NASA
Gov.uk
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
To find out scientifically proven facts take a look at the accredited websites and platforms.

Show Support

Being supportive is very important especially when your students are having a hard time learning. You can use the final part of your feedback to show that you support your learners and are dedicated to improving their competencies.

What You Should SayWhat You Should NOT Say
I am always here to help you. If you have trouble writing the next article do not hesitate to contact me and ask for guidance.I hope you do better next time.

Software and Hardware Required

Text Feedback

For text feedback, all you need is your laptop (or computer) and its keyboard. In terms of software you can choose one of the following:

Audio Feedback

If you are planning on providing your students with audio feedback then you will need a microphone. Your laptop probably features a built-in microphone but I strongly advise against using it due to the poor quality it provides. Take a look at the Recommended Tools page to see my recommendation for a dedicated microphone.

To record and edit the audio feedback you can use:

Video Feedback

Video footage requires you to have a microphone and a camera as well as your laptop. To see my recommendation of what audio-video equipment to use, visit the Recommended Tools page.

In terms of software to edit your video if required check out these software packages:

Live Feedback

Live feedback involves using a web conferencing tool and scheduling a meeting with your students.  I have provided a list of some of the web conferencing tools you can use below and if you are wanting to schedule online meetings with students I have provided a link to an article to help you with that as well.

Some web conferencing software you can use:

ARTICLE: How to Schedule Tutoring Online

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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