Day 10: Providing Feedback to Students

Timely and useful feedback to students is another way that you establish “faculty presence” in your online courses. Students will not know how they are doing in the class and will feel lost and alone in the course without this communication and feedback. Here are some tips:


So how can you handle students’ needs in online courses to gain quick feedback? You can still do the majority of your grading once a week, but build in some other methods of quick feedback.

  • Photo by Microsoft
    Photo by Microsoft

    Grade Within a Week. We highly recommend that you grade all assignments within one week of receipt; longer papers or projects may take two weeks. Be sure students know when to expect feedback.

  • Answer emails within 12-24 hours. Answer students quickly. If a student stopped by your office (and you were available right then), you would assist them immediately. Online students can’t stop by your office. Try to get back to them quickly. For more involved questions, write back quickly and tell them when to expect a longer answer. Or schedule a Skype or phone call with them. Talking is usually faster than typing!
  • Autograded quizzes. Using low stakes, more frequent assessment can assist students in monitoring their learning. Auto-graded quizzes can provide frequent feedback to students. Read more about low-stakes assessments:

Personalizing Feedback

  • Write constructive comments on assignments. Remember your students are studying alone and are waiting early to hear back from you.
  • Encourage. Be friendly. Share with students information that has been helpful for other students. Add a few words of encouragement. Begin your remarks on an upbeat note and make certain that your criticism is constructive.
  • Write personal emails. It’s nice in the first few weeks of class to write a personal note to each student on how they are doing in the class, particularly for undergraduate students. At least write a personal note to struggling students to help them see exactly how to organize their time, what to do next, and what assignments are missing.


  • Be sure that students know how to look for the feedback if you are entering comments within Moodle (gradebook, quizzes, assignment tool, etc.).
  • Inform students of the importance of reading feedback, particularly when assignments build on each other.

Your Turn

Reflect. What are your favorite methods of providing feedback to students? How do those translate online? What tips would you add to today’s list?

This post is Day 10 of the 20 Day Challenge to Teaching Interactive Online Courses.

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