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Providing Students with Practice and Feedback

Learning rests on the foundation of practice and feedback. Without these two things, learning cannot happen. Sometimes feedback is as simple as having a bicycle wobble while you pedal to remind you how to stay upright, and other times it is as complicated as the GRE. However, between those two extremes, there are infinite numbers of ways to assess students so that they have the opportunity to practice and receive feedback. As you peruse the following pages, you will see how to achieve these aims using the tools available to you in iCollege. Below are the key features of a great assessment strategy:

Provide plenty of opportunities for practice

Not only do practice opportunities allow you to know if your students are reading their textbook, but they also let you know what are the problem areas that exist for students, so you can provide some supplemental content around those areas. Starting off with low point value quizzes that are automatically graded is a great starting point for establishing your assessment strategy.

Use group projects for more intensive work

We understand that grading projects for a full class of students is a daunting task. To lower the number of items that you have to grade, use group projects. A fair number of student complaints around group work can be resolved by having groups check-in with smaller graded items along the way such as project outlines, drafts and so on, and creating group-based discussion boards that you pop into a few times a semester will also keep students on track.

Use peer feedback to supplement instructor feedback

Though students are not prepared to give the same level of feedback that a professor can, learning how to properly give feedback is an invaluable skill.  It is also one that will make your grading load more manageable. Basing grades solely on students’ feedback is ill-advised. However, if you provide them with basic direction on how to use a grading rubric and provide feedback that is directed towards achieving learning objectives, your students can become great allies in establishing good practice and feedback opportunities for one another.

Participation grades combined with praise

A face-to-face course is filled with feedback: we provide eye contact, we smile, and we nod our heads. In an online setting, these implied interactions need to be made more intentional. Using a discussion board is a great start for making these interactions more intentional. The key part of having discussions succeed is making sure that you actively participate in them and provide some authentic praise for good ideas added to the discussion. Praise engages more intrinsic motivations than other forms of feedback and will encourage more participation in students if you are balanced in your praise throughout your students.  Obviously, no one will be too motivated if you continue to praise one student without praising others. Using the Announcements tools as a place to acknowledge exceptional student work is a great place to provide feedback as well so that all students receive a notification about your feedback.

Student-created content

Though having your students collectively generate a piece of scholarly content may not lower your grading load, it can lead to the creation of a substantial portion of the content you use in your class, lowering student costs, helping your students understand the process of creating real world knowledge artifacts in a group contribution setting, and it also provides a model of what you think of a great work, so that your students don’t feel paralyzed in trying to impress you with their work.

Calendars and Reminders

Though we saved this for last, it is by no means the least important. We all need help with remembering when to do things. Our phones remind us of friends’ birthdays, upcoming doctor appointments, and so on. Students deserve the same consideration, and using the Calendar tool in iCollege will allow your students to always know when their assignments are due and plan accordingly. Also, iCollege can be set up to send automatic reminders of all sorts of items, such as if a student has not logged into a course for a designated amount of time, or if they scored above a certain grade on a quiz or test using the Intelligent Agents tool. These intelligent agents can even be personalized to include your student’s first name, so that it adds a personal touch to an automated message.