Student Feedback: Six Alternative and Efficient Solutions

Screencastify: a reliable tool for recording student feedback and sending the files to students.

This article is outlines six methods for providing student feedback, using alternative and efficient ways. Feedback is vital to giving students guidance and direction in their learning. But lets be honest – grading and providing feedback can be an onerous task. Teachers have a finite amount of time to do this and we want to do it in a way that is most helpful for the students.  For these reasons many teachers look for alternative and efficient solutions to giving student feedback to students.

How Can Teachers Provide Meaningful Feedback to all Students with Limited Time and Resources ?

The process of providing meaningful student feedback can be extremely time consuming. How do you keep your feedback fresh, informative and relevant?  Here’s six efficient ways to provide that feedback using alternative methods and maybe saving some time along the way.  Click on the links below for more information:

1. Record a Video of Yourself Giving the Student Feedback on their Work
2. Add Your Feedback Comments to Their Google Doc
3. Deliver the Feedback in Class During a 1:1 Meeting
4. Give Verbal Feedback during Class on Group Projects
5. Written Feedback in an Email
6. Run a Feedback ‘Lottery’

1. Record a Video of Yourself Giving the Student feedback on their Work

This method is an excellent way of getting detailed feedback to students. record a video of yourself going over the student’s work, discussing the areas of strength and the areas they could improve. I usually have the rubric open in an separate tab and I can switch over to the rubric for the task to quickly highlight the area I am currently discussing. This is really powerful as students actually see me USING THE RUBRIC ! They quickly start to realise that, yes, they will need to check that rubric during the next assessment as I will , as always, be comparing their work against it.

Recommended: Use Screencastify to Record your Videos

I use screencastify with google chrome to record these videos and I can report that it’s pretty flawless. Simply add the program as a google Chrome ‘Extension’ and then select ‘Desktop‘ and ‘Record‘. I then usually select the ‘My Entire Screen‘ option as I tend to be switching between tabs I record the feedback.

Once I have my tabs organised and get into my stride I can get an average class of 25 students recorded in an hour or so.  The average length of time for each video is 3-4 minutes. The free version of screencastify has a limit of 5 mins for all recordings, which actually is quite handy – it forces me to be as succinct as possible. Remember student’s won’t want to listen to you drone on for too long so keep it snappy and to the point. Have all the tabs open that you’ll need to help support your feedback. Recording these videos can quite fun once you get used to it. The students report that they love the videos and find them very helpful.

man using computer inside room
Recording your screen and your voice as you give student feedback can be very powerful.

Once the videos are recorded it’s very easy in Screencastify to share each video with each student. Each video has a ‘Send in Email’ option that automatically opens gmail with a link to the video. I simply then have to add the name and copy paste my outline of what the feedback is for.  Hit send. Done. Next student. I usually record all the videos first and then send them all. This seems to be the most efficient way of doing this.

2. Add Your Feedback Comments to Their Google Doc

Google docs is a fantastic tool for student work. Adding comments in the right hand margin is a great way to provide feedback and can be very effective. Are you interested in using google suite to improve  your classes? Check out my article on Using Google Jamboards with Google Meet to Create Collaboration online with your class.  I outline a great method that I have used and provide some free Jamboard templates and organisational google docs too.

Top Tip – to add a comment in google docs use the shortcut ‘Ctrl+Alt+M’  (in windows) or ⌘ + Option + m (Apple)  to instantly set up a comment at point that you are reading – this can help you be more efficient.

One downside of comments in google docs is that students can ‘resolve’ comments. One a comment is ‘resolved’ it disappears. This can be frustrating as teachers like to keep  a record of their feedback for future meetings. To avoid this from happening you might need to use the ‘Private Comments’ section in google docs. Here your comments cannot be deleted by the student. Just be aware that, at the time of typing, private comments cannot be edited on many operating systems.  I find this is a major oversight from google and I hope they get round to updating this soon.

3. Deliver the Feedback in Class During a 1:1 Meeting

If your class is working on individual assignments then it’s a great moment to pull out students one by one and discuss their most recent assessment with them. You can even record the discussion you have using a simple app or google extension and then email this to the student afterwards for both yours and their reference.  I tend to use the simple voice recording app on my school laptop for this, there are many options for desktops and laptops such as:

4. Give Verbal Feedback during Class on Group Projects

Group work only receives formative grades in my classroom. So when it comes to group feedback on posters and presentation I tend to give this feedback in class and on the spot. This formative feedback helps give the students guidance on the quality of work produced in the group.

four people watching on white MacBook on top of glass-top table
Taking a moment to deliver group feedback makes this activity more meaningful .

It also would correct any subject related errors or misconceptions they have. By doing this I hope to be helping them prepare and develop for their cumulative feedback assessment that would be coming towards the end of the unit. The only type of formal assessment I provide to students during group work would be on their ‘Approaches to Learning’ (ATLs). – More on my use of ATLs in a future article.

5. Written Feedback in an Email

OK – so this one certainty isn’t breaking any boundaries. But email feedback can be very easy to set up  and write from the teacher point of view. You can be quick and make use of prepared text or ‘quoting’ text from the rubric. Yes: that is copy and paste. Copy and paste is fine but make sure you start and end the feedback with a personal sentence or two on that student’s work. Getting students to read your email….well that’s another challenge. I recommend giving them time in class to read this feedback and respond in some way. See my final paragraph below for more on this.

6. Run a Feedback ‘Lottery’

This is a good one. I only really recommend this for first drafts or at a mid-way point though an assessment piece. Imagine you have 30 students and no time to read all these first drafts of their coursework or projects.  But they all want formative feedback. That’s when you can set up a feedback lottery.

A ‘lottery’ student feedback event can form part of a fun lesson

You can use various fun strategies to work out which 5 students will receive feedback. You can use a bingo ball to pick out numbers and match to birth dates. You can use wooden lollipop (popsicle) sticks with names on, whatever you fancy. But select five students (or whatever number you can work with) at random and provide them with verbal feedback that you share with the class. This could be a video using Screencastify or an exploration of their work while it is projected onto the whiteboard.

lottery balls
Random student feedback can still deliver the right results.

The other students look at what areas these students excelled in and what areas they could improve. This way everyone wins and you actually have some time to get to that other enormous pile of G8 books that is waiting for your attention.

Check with Students First

This method does involve checking with the student that they don’t mind you dissecting their work in front of the class. Most don’t mind at all and I always make sure I emphasise the praise to leave them with a positive vibe….while subtly making it clear which areas they (and the class as a whole) will need to focus strongly on.

My Final Thoughts/Tips on Feedback

Here’s some  final tips/thoughts on feedback that I find effective –

  • Separate your feedback from the actual grade. Don’t include the grade in your feedback – let the student think about what grade they deserve after having checked and discussed their verbal/written feedback with you. I often even delay the appearance of their grade by a day or so to allow them to reflect on this.  This way they are far more likely to understand and accept their grade when they receive it.
  • Give students time in class to review their feedback. This is something I have to really try hard to do – but it helps the entire process when I do it. Give the class 5 mins to read/listen to/watch their feedback. Then while they are working they can get back to you with any additional questions they have. This irons out any issues or uncertainties that the students may have and they leave your class with a solid understanding of the areas they can improve.
  • Finally – give the students time to make a note of the areas they can improve in. Asking students to keep a running ‘diary’ of what went well and what can be improved with each assessment is a great way of doing this.

So – student feedback. An essential part of any teacher/tutor’s work … and highly time consuming. I hope you can take one or two of these methods and find them useful in your classroom. Let me know in the comments below if these were helpful or you have any other suggestions.

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