Thursday, April 05, 2007

giving student feedback -- an observation

This semester I've been giving a lot of feeback to my students via e-mail. I do this for two of their assignments in particular: close readings and group presentations. After a group presents I try to come straight back to my office and type up all the notes I took during the presentation and send them to each group member (along with individual feedback on his/her particular role in the presentation).

What I've been noticing is that students respond! I get an e-mail back. Sometimes the e-mail simply thanks me for my feedback, some point out the specific ways in which the feedback was helpful, some make clear their understanding of a point I've made, some defend themselves, and so on. I love this!

I know this is nothing truly new or earth-shaking. Instructors, including myself, have been responding to students electronically (in various forms) for a long time. Last semester, though, I tended to respond electronically in the form of comments on their blogs. I still do this, but I notice a big difference when I write them an e-mail. Students rarely (to never) pick up the dialogue that I attempt to start when commenting on their blogs -- even with all the in-class time spent talking about the potential for dialogue through these online spaces; however, for whatever reason, they seem much more compelled to hit that reply button. Maybe the "email is for old people" mentality hasn't quite hit my campus yet...?

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