Providing Whole-Class Feedback, Sept. 2016

It happens at some point almost every semester:  We are immersed in the time-consuming and often tedious task of grading a towering pile of student papers, projects or exams; in the wee hours of the night, we find ourselves making the same types of comments over and over and wondering if there’s an easier way.

…Perhaps there is.

Whole-class feedback can be an effective, time-saving technique for responding to student work—particularly in large lecture sections and when many in the class are struggling with the same issues.

A Teaching Professor Blog describes whole-class feedback as instances “when the teacher returns a set of papers or exams and talks to the entire class about its performance, or the debriefing part of an activity where the teacher comments on how students completed the task.”

This feedback offers efficiency, but we need to be careful when and how to present it:  A whole-class lecture on how students could improve their work might leave many tuned out unless they know that the remarks refer specifically to them.  And, if students are not given the opportunity to revise their work afterwards—or incorporate lessons learned into similar upcoming assignments—they may not be concerned enough to attend in the first place.

Instead of lecture, a better technique might be to conduct a whole-class discussion in which we pose questions, discuss and brainstorm revisions to student work together, and encourage all members of the class to identify areas that need improvement in addition to things done well.  We could also offer what the Blog calls “future-focused discussions,” which are aimed specifically at how to avoid similar errors on the next upcoming assignment.

Visit the Teaching Professor Blog for more options and ideas on this topic:

Please also visit Mentor Commons for 20-Minute Videos on related topics, including How Can I Use Voice Feedback to Improve Student Learning?, How Can I Enhance the Impact of Feedback in Online Classes?, How Do I Give Feedback that Improves Student Writing?, How Can I Use Technology to Create Custom Automated Feedback?, and How Can I Make My Exams More about Learning, Less about Grades?