Writing assignments are a challenge. Students don’t usually enjoy them, and they can be cumbersome for instructors to grade. Rubrics help, but what else can instructors do make the most of their grading time? Electronic feedback has become more popular in recent years with the growing use of learning management systems. Some previous research has focused on student attitudes toward electronic feedback, and it was found that more than 80% of students would prefer to submit a copy of their assignment online (Bridge & Appleyard, 2008; Hast & Healy, 2016). The present research wanted to investigate how feedback format (electronic vs. handwritten) might affect the quality of instructor comments and subsequent student performance.
The writing that was evaluated came from an introductory research methods course where students were tasked with writing a full APA-style report based on an experiment they conducted. They submitted the paper in three installments with opportunities for feedback between each submission. Students either received handwritten or electronic feedback.
They found instructors who gave electronic feedback made more and longer comments compared to handwritten feedback, and the comments made addressed content and mechanics of the writing. Also, from draft 1 to draft 2, significant improvements were made on student scores who received both feedback types, but students who received electronic feedback improved more. The authors concluded that electronic feedback on writing assignments contributes to better student learning because electronic feedback leads to higher quality feedback.
I was inspired to review this article because giving electronic feedback on writing assignments should be a fairly straightforward strategy to implement. Also, I thought it would serve as a nice segue to the 2 writing series that the TNP will be covering over the next 2 weeks! The first covers writing in the classroom, and the second covers grading writing assignments. Stay tuned!
written by Jen Blush
Bridge, P., & Appleyard, R. (2008). A comparison of electronic and paper-based assignment submission and feedback. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39, 644–650. doi:10.1111/j.1467- 8535.2007.00753.x
Hast, M., & Healy, C. (2016). Higher education marking in the elec- tronic age: Quantitative and qualitative student insight. Procedia- Social and Behavioral Sciences, 228, 11–15. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro. 2016.07.002
Johnson, W. F., Stellmack, M. A., & Barthel, A. L. (2019). Format of Instructor Feedback on Student Writing Assignments Affects Feedback Quality and Student Performance. Teaching of Psychology, 46(1), 16-21.