Providing Feedback Opportunities
“They’ve had plenty of opportunities for feedback and they should have a project that they can be proud of” -Patti Dyjur
Dr. Patti Dyjur has taught various courses for the Werklund School of Education’s eLearning certificate program. One particular course, Inquiry into Digital Content (EDER 679), was project-intensive, despite being taught completely online. The course outline explains the course and different assessments in detail. Her graduate-level students received a lot of feedback throughout the course as they progressed through the various projects and assignments. Their largest project, creating a website, had five different feedback opportunities.
For this project, students had to develop and create a website that could be used in an educational setting by a particular group of learners. The rubric explains in detail what the specific expectations were. The website had to be useful, professional and interactive at the level of the specific learners the student had chosen. Students worked on the website for four weeks, with chances for feedback and assessment from both the instructor and other students spread throughout.
Students first handed in a rough prototype of the website, which was ungraded, but given initial feedback by Dr. Dyjur. She says that the students easily came up with ideas for the project, as the majority of them were teachers and could think of online resources they would like to use in their own practice. Dyjur’s first set of feedback was important in helping students narrow down the scope of their projects. Many had really big ideas and needed to concentrate or clarify them to work for the time frame.
First Iteration and Peer Critique
A few weeks later, their website’s first iteration was sent to Dr. Dyjur, who gave it a small grade (5% of the course) and more feedback. This feedback focused more on the design and implementation of the initial ideas and plan. Around this same time, students did a peer-review exercise. Each student looked at and provided their feedback to another student’s website. Their feedback was graded, which motivated them to give robust, thoughtful responses. More about the peer review component can be found here.
Documentation and Final Product
Students were also asked to document their experience throughout the project. While their final website was the given the majority of the grade weighting, they were also graded on a report outlining their design decisions and reasoning. This documentation allowed students to clearly outline the intentions of their website and how their design attempted to meet them. Students could use the documentation to increase their grades if they found the technical aspects of the course difficult.
Examples of completed websites can be found here. They were graded on content, media use, design and attention to detail. Due to all of the feedback given throughout the project, the websites are incredibly well-made and usable.
Dr. Dyjur says that students highly valued all of the feedback and grading that they got throughout the course. She has found that anxiety and intimidation in a project-intensive class can be alleviated by assessing and providing feedback to students regularly. She saw an increase in student confidence once they started receiving feedback, and found that students thought about and changed areas that were critiqued.
Providing constant and thorough feedback for students throughout a course is a lot of work for instructors. Dyjur says that even in a small class like hers (ranging from 12-22 students), she found giving so much feedback to be very time-consuming. At times, she considered cutting out certain assessments, or complete projects, but is glad that she didn’t. She says that the results were worth the effort. Her students were very successful in the course and produced high quality content because of the guidance from her and feedback from peers.