Lack of meaningful feedback is one of the biggest challenges learners face on a hybrid learning programme. Coupled with this, many students can feel intimidated because of the isolated nature that often comes with the online component of hybrid learning. Constructive feedback can transform a student’s learning experience as it encourages them to reflect and deal with criticism. Live feedback environments, such as that of campus-based learning are often easier to control. Online environments are relatively challenging for providing feedback, which is important for scaffolding and developing a learner. As per campus-based learning, the core principles of feedback still apply.
Hattie and Timperley (2007) say that effective feedback must answer three major questions:
- Where am I going? (What are the goals?)
- How am I going? (What progress is being made toward the goal?)
- Where to next? (What activities need to be undertaken to make better progress?)
So, how do you ensure that you are providing meaningful feedback from a hybrid learning perspective?
Set Clear Expectations
Firstly, think about what you want your students to achieve, which will set the bar of your expectations of the students. For example, when you are designing a discussion, be clear about giving specific instructions from the outset. This will give the students an idea of what is expected of them and will save both parties time.
Sharing guidelines e.g. writing discussion posts, grading metrics and communicating due dates, your response time and establishing class participation rules all go a long way to help students to be aware of expectations.
Make Feedback Actionable
Providing clear and concise feedback is paramount as nothing confuses students more than vague feedback. Students need to derive value from your feedback, which also needs to inspire a change or action. Think about how you can make the feedback goal-oriented and actionable. How can you provide explicit direction on how they can move forward once a problem has been identified? With the online component of hybrid learning, it is more important than ever to develop their independent learning and self-reflection skills. Once they become more adept at identifying strengths and challenges in their work, then they can visit the toolboxes of strategies they’ve developed and identify how to improve. Be aware that some students may not have ‘go-to’ strategies yet and will need further direct instruction and scaffolding to move them forward.
Due to the dynamics of the online component of hybrid learning, students feeling distant and isolated is not uncommon. Providing personalised feedback is an excellent way to make students feel less distant and more engaged in the learning process. Students who receive personalised feedback generally have higher levels of satisfaction and perform academically better than students who receive only collective feedback.
From Netflix recommendations to discovery Spotify playlists, the world of technology has recognised that people respond better when we tailor new information to their specific tastes. It’s a trend that has naturally caught the imagination of the digital marketing world, but its potential for education is just being realised. All students are individuals and with that comes different learning styles, strengths, weaknesses and areas of interest. Understanding these and tailoring feedback to adapt to these differences is a much more effective way of enabling students to learn and perform at their very best.
Here are some of the key benefits of personalised student feedback:
- Gives students a better understanding of how to improve their work: Feedback aligned to each individual’s areas of need can help them to more easily grasp how to improve.
- Targeted feedback gives greater confidence: Students and tutors can see the feedback progression from the first piece of work to the last and so appreciate the overall improvement. This creates confidence in improved standards.
- Creates trust and strong rapport between students and tutors: Being seen as an individual helps students to build rapport with their tutors and creates a fulfilling working relationship.
Audio Format Feedback
The provision of timely and constructive feedback is increasingly challenging for busy academics, especially now with increasing challenges brought about by the shift to hybrid learning and teaching. Most feedback in a campus-based setting is provided in written format (as annotations to student work and/or on written forms returned along with the mark for the work) or verbally in face-to-face teaching situations (e.g. tutorials, seminars or lectures). Increasingly, studies have explored the provision of audio recorded feedback to enhance effectiveness and engagement with feedback. Orsmond et al. (2005) found that a majority of students preferred verbal feedback from lecturers as it enabled questioning and discussion.
You may have avoided audio feedback thinking it is time-consuming, but you will be surprised to know how much of a difference it makes when you speak out your feedback rather than writing it. When receiving audio feedback, students tend to be more engaged, are better able to understand the real intent, and retain the information. Microsoft Windows has a built-in Voice Recorder that allows you to record feedback and save the file to MP3 format, as well as providing readable accessible file formats. These files be can be easily shared or uploaded to Microsoft Teams or Blackboard for your students to easily access.
Follow the link below to see how you can record audio to MP3 using your PC.
When a student has to wait too long to receive feedback, it impacts their motivation levels and leaves them feeling unsure. Moreover, the online way of learning just tends to widen that gap. When you deliver timely feedback, it lets students know that you are actively involved and gives them the reassurance that you are as committed to the course as they are. So, commit to providing feedback as soon as possible.
Also, feedback doesn’t have to come solely from the teacher. For example, there could be informal conversations or peer reflections. A great way to give feedback while promoting increased interaction and engagement in online classes is by encouraging peer reviews. Peer feedback refers to when students review each other’s work and provide meaningful feedback. You can take a back seat and moderate this exercise by letting students indulge in a healthy exchange of perspectives. To streamline the session and make it interesting, you can provide specific feedback metrics that students can consider while critiquing each other’s work.
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Hattie & Timperley (2007) The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research (Vol 77, No1).
Orsmond, P. Merry, S. Reiling, K. (2005) Biology students’ utilization of tutors’ formative feedback: a qualitative interview study, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 30, 369–386. [Taylor & Francis Online], [Google Scholar]