Students receiving constructive feedback from faculty report gains in problem solving and communication skills. Feedback perceived as encouraging and aiding in student development tends to be more effective. Students note that late feedback (e.g., after its usefulness has expired) is not at all helpful nor effective. Messages constructed according to best practices are perceived to be of more quality by students. Further, the higher the level of quality perceived, the greater the impact the message has on students with regard to their self-efficacy and course performance.
Research from Purdue University shows that:
Explicit feedback with direct actions (e.g., be sure to compare your exams with the key on the website) to be taken is far more effective and useful for students than implied statements (e.g., you need to spend more time on the assignments)
Feedback should focus on direct outcomes of behaviors. Further, messages should be delivered as soon as possible to ensure relevancy and effectiveness
Instructors should strive to write short messages. Effective messages tended to average 40 words for green messages, 52 words for yellow messages, and 62 words for red messages
Increasing a student’s self-efficacy will increase their likelihood of academic success.
When students perceive feedback as threatening (e.g., you will fail this course) without information about how to improve their situation (e.g., you will fail this course unless you start turning in assignments on time), it is wholly ineffective
Highly effective messages use the words "we" and "you," while highly ineffective messages refer to the instructor as "I" and never use the word "we." In short, the you/we language left students feeling capable, while the instructor-centered language (I) left students feeling as though their final grade in the course was out of the students’ control.
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Gettings, P. E., Waters, J., Selzer King, A., Tanes, Z., Pistilli, M. D. (2013). Message testing and self-efficacy in Course Signals: Formative evaluation to identify effective communication strategies. Paper presented at the Southern States Communication Association Annual Conference, Louisville, KY.
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