Streamlining Comprehensive and Personalized Assessment Feedback Increases Student Satisfaction and Retention

Author Information
Author(s): 
Leslie Bowman, Online Student Success Coach, Clemson University
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Ozarks Technical College
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Walden University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Grading is one of the most difficult responsibilities involved in the teaching profession. Teachers of all levels, both traditional and online, find that comprehensive grading adds hours to their work week. These assessment strategies focus on best practices in grading students’ work to enhance application of knowledge in subsequent course assignments. All too often, effective and comprehensive grading takes time away from instructional activities. Sometimes grading responsibilities take a back seat to comprehensive instruction. Now there is a way to have it all – time for effective, comprehensive, individualized instruction and grading without adding to the instructor’s weekly work hours. In fact, this grading practice streamlines grading and leaves more time for instruction and interaction with students. The keys are organization and specific technology tools that allow instructors to give comprehensive, personalized, and instructive feedback while saving hours of time over traditional grading methods.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

While using technology for grading is not a new practice, there are technology tools we can implement that will significantly streamline grading time without sacrificing feedback effectiveness. Some of these tools are macros, grading toolbars, and writing software. This is especially effective for grading essays and research projects. Structuring the assignments for more effective and faster grading and structuring grading time to maximize effectiveness while minimizing time are all ways to organize and streamline grading practices.

These grading tools and strategies have been used in undergraduate and graduate content and writing courses. The grading practices are especially helpful in writing-intensive courses. Students need comprehensive feedback that is focused on their individual needs. They need this feedback in time to study and incorporate the instruction in subsequent work. Teachers find that providing this type of feedback in a timely manner is prohibitively time-consuming.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Students' two major complaints are: (1) not enough personalized feedback; and (2) feedback received too late to use for subsequent work. In a win-win situation, students receive feedback in just one or two days after due dates and instructors save time that is better spent in instructional activities in the classroom.

There is not currently any quantitative analysis and information regarding these grading practices. Informal qualitative surveys and reviews indicate a high satisfaction rate with faculty who use these grading tools and strategies.

Comments from students:

I was amazed at how prompt my instructor is in returning assignments. The feedback is excellent. None of my other instructors have ever provided this much feedback, and this fast.

My instructor is so good about giving feedback. Whether it is correction or praise, the feedback is always comprehensive. I appreciate that so much. It isn't so in all my classes.

I have taken lots of online courses, and never received so much personalized guidance and involvement from an online instructor!

My instructor gave positive feedback, great advice, and communicates continually with us, supports us, provides positive motivation with all our work.

I have appreciated my instructor's extremely thorough and professionally committed comments on my work. I have been impressed beyond the expression of words at herlevel of dedication and follow through on assessing our work.

Comments from instructors:

Making the grading process more efficient means you can make the feedback more meaningful for the students.

Developing your own grading toolbar is a genius idea.

The more efficient I am with grading, the more time I can spend interacting with students individually.

Using these tools (macros, toolbars, etc.) helped me develop and organize my comments/feedback, as well as focus in on what elements of a student's paper I should be really assessing (and helping students focus on).

I teach composition, literature, and business communications for more than one school. Needless to say my essay and discussion board posting and grading requirements are extensive. This process has saved my life.

I have cut my grading time and effort in half, yet my students still get substantive, personal, and high quality feedback (probably more than they did before.)

When I offer feedback on discussions or essays, my students now get a more complete explanation of what the concern is and how to fix it. All this is done in half the time. Before I started using this process I was intellectual toast after about 20 essays a day. Now I can easily grade 40 or more. If you have a lot of papers and/or discussions to grade, this grading process is for you.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Access: Instructors and students access assessment feedback via school LMS tools, email, or other file-sharing platform. No additional or extra software is necessary.

Learning Effectiveness: Students receive individualized feedback according to the learning needs. Students' learning deficiencies are addressed through targeted feedback that includes examples, additional resources, and personalized instruction. Getting students to not only read comments, but to apply the feedback we spend time providing for them can be quite the challenge. When students receive feedback quickly, they are more likely to study and reflect on the suggested improvements.

Student Satisfaction: Students want substantive feedback on their work and they want it fast. Students always mention on course evaluations how much they appreciate my thorough suggestions, corrections, and comments on all their work. They like getting their assignments back so fast so they can use that feedback to better prepare for the next assignments.

Instructor Satisfaction: Grading time is essentially cut by 50% and effective, substantive, personalized feedback to students increases by the same amount. Instructors like being able to provide more feedback in a shorter period of grading time.

Scale: All instructors can use these practices and strategies. The primary practices use MS Word and Excel. Toolbars can be created via multiple methods, using various technology tools. These practices are effective and efficient for traditional f2f classes as well as online and blended classes.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Any type of word processing program can be used for creating toolbars, rubrics, macros, and other streamlining strategies.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Unless an instructor needs to purchase a word processing program or elects to purchase a short-key program, there is no cost.

References, supporting documents: 

Grading Made Fast and Easy: Save Time on Comprehensive and Personalized Assessments with Technology

Conference Presentations:
18th annual Educational Technology Leadership Conference, Roanoke VA
AFACCT 22nd Annual Conference, Baltimore MD
PBS Ed Tech Annual Conference, Petersburg VA March 2012
PBS Ed Tech Annual Conference, Ashland VA January 2011

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Leslie Bowman, Online Student Success Coach, Clemson University
Email this contact: 
Lesliebowman@clemson.edu