Topic 9: Providing Feedback to Distance Learning Students
Faculty Team Members:   Consultants:
Gary Thomas - AACC David McDowell - AACC
Deborah Rayner - Harford CC William McKelvie - Bowie State University
Dody Welsh-Parris - Chesapeake  
Dan Albert - University of Baltimore  
Analyze the Audience

Participants should have some experience with face-to-face teaching as well as a basic understanding of distance education. In addition, participants should have at least a basic understanding of the software programs and platforms used in online teaching.

This is an intermediate level training session.

Learning Objectives
  1. To understand the mechanisms used to provide feedback, including backups should the primary system fail;
  2. To understand the timing involved in providing effective feedback;
  3. To understand that feedback comes from different instructor roles, not all related to evaluating student performance.

Critical issues: The ability to understand and evaluate the usefulness and effectiveness of different kinds of feedback and approaches to it.

Presentation of Topic Information
  • What information must be included to adequately understand this topic?

The following information must be included in the training in order to adequately understand this topic:

  • Description of the mechanism
  • Identification of potential problems and issues
  • Description of various instructor roles

Estimate of time needed to adequately address topic: 1.5 hours

Available Resources

Online Resources

~ Instructional Strategies for Online Learning, Dr. Nada Dabbagh - George Mason University

Print Resources

~ Tools Used for Editing and Sample Edit of Student Work, David McDowell - AACC, FOTTC Presentation

Print Resources

~ Moore, M. & Kearsley, G. (1996) Distance Education: A Systems Approach. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing.

~ Berge, Y. & Collins, M. (1995) Computer Mediated Communication and the On-line Classroom. Cresskill, NJ Hampton Press vol. 1 3

    1. Hartman, et al. Patterns of Social Interaction vol. 2
    2. Paulsen, M. Moderating Educational Computer Conferences vol. 3
    3. Rohfield, R. & Hiemstra, R. Moderating Discussions in the Online Classroom


  1. Using the software tools described in this lesson and in the following paragraph, provide feedback to this poor student on her work below:

One of the advantages of grading papers from an online ocurse is that instructors can save valable time using features of Microsoft word and other familiar software packeages to speed up grading. For instance, selecting "track changes" from the tools menu allows instructor comments to be made in a different color, even if the changes are only the result of running a spell check prombram. The use of another tool, auto-text, allows instructors to develop a list of codes for frequenty typed messages, so that instead of typing out for the fiftieth time "This is a run on sentence" she can type in R-O and her message will appear as if by magic! A third useful tool is "insert" which allows an instructor to insert footnotes that comment on the student work without a massive interpuption of the students writing on the essay.

  1. The following message appears in one of your discussion areas, about mid way into the semester as your literature class is reading "The Yellow Wallpaper, " a short story narrated by a woman experiencing extreme post partum depression. Explain how and where you would provide feedback to this student, and what instructor "voices" would be speaking.

Who knows what best for a persons body but the person feeling a certian way.....i believe the author is the one afflicted with a nervous breakdown, and obviously i defintely can relate...She is reliable to tell of what ailes her but to diagnose who really knows best.. Does the doctor? The family? hmmm tough call. It seems to me that the power of the mind can be a healer as i myself am getting better without as much depression, but what really lifts people out of mental problems? Yellow wallpaper is a very interesting story that tells of an ailment very few people understood back then...nervous breakdowns/anxiety/fear/depression all tie in to each other as its an emotional thing, but i see it as a challenge to overcome and be better then u were before....u cant sugarcoat a problem and lying in bed all day or what they call the rest cure may not have been the answer....good story though i liked it

  1. Discuss the electronic personality of the instructor who wrote the following passage in response to a student's question about an assignment in the third week of an on line course. Make some suggestions so that he may project a different on-line image.

The dates on the syllabus indicate due dates by which you should have completed your readings and be prepared to begin discussion. From your question I have to wonder whether you have read the syllabus or course information at all. Please be sure to keep a copy of the syllabus handy so that you will be able to answer such questions for yourself in the future.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Pick one "in class" strategy you use to give feedback to your students. Translate that strategy into a useful online strategy.
  2. List three methods you could use to save time in giving feedback on an assignment that many students are sending to you.
  3. Discuss the ways in which you could make your responses to the online student more "high touch" and less "high tech" and impersonal.
  4. Develop responses or criteria to be considered for each of these three basic aspects of feedback: When? How? How Much? (This could be done as a group exercise.)
  5. At what points in the semester do you think it is especially important to provide detailed feedback?
  6. Describe some of the different means by which you might provide feedback to an on-line student, and when each would be particularly helpful.
  7. What are some of the things an on-line instructor should be aware of as students form an image of his on-line personality?
Assessment Strategies

Assessment would best be carried out by presenting examples of exercises and discussion questions for participants to complete on their own, followed, perhaps, by posting to a class web site or presentation for class discussion.