PassNote is a student feedback tool designed to assist instructors in composing research-based messages that motivate students to academic action. Our goal in creating the tool was to address concerns several instructors brought to our attention related to the difficult task they had in composing effective feedback messages related to course performance for students based on best practices.1
The research we found was extremely specific in helping us come up with criteria that were most likely to motivate students. Some words worked better than others and writing shorter messages increased the chances students would read them.2 Comments that did not provide specific resources were less effective.3 As we investigated the research, a pattern for success became more clear. We followed this pattern in the construction of our library.
Another concern we have looked to address was to try to provide a library that would inspire individual responses as much as possible. This would help keep the messages unique and spare students receiving the same messages. By providing “snippets” with [insert departmental resources here] opportunities for customized information, we hope messages inspired by PassNote will stay fresh and inspiring for students to read and apply to their academic performance.
When PassNote is used in conjunction with analytic tools such as Course Signals and Blackboard Retention Center, instructors can send messages in mass to the group of students who fit customized criteria. Even students in very large courses still can receive messages related to their course performance and can be directed to campus resources such as tutoring, library services, or even their instructor’s office hours with just a few total messages being sent. For example, an instructor can use Course Signals to tell them which students are in danger of not receiving a passing grade and send them a message composed with help from PassNote directing all students that fit this criteria to resources the instructor feels would benefit them most. Instructors using Blackboard’s Retention Center can target students who have missed an important due date and send all of them a message encouraging them to use strategies to help them keep better track of due dates and perhaps direct them to resources that might help. PassNote’s extensive collection of campus resources can help keep instructors informed what is available outside of their own department.
PassNote is a free and open resource available to anyone on or off Purdue’s campus. http://www.purdue.edu/passnote/
For additional information about PassNote refer to: EDUCAUSE Review Online
By: Bethany Croton
 Chickering, Arthur W, and Zelda E Gamson. 1991. “Appendix a Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.” New Directions for Teaching and Learning 47: 63–69. doi:10.1002/tl.37219914708, p. 66.
 Patricia E. Gettings, Joseph Waters, Abigail Selzer King, Zeynep Tanes, and Matthew D. Pistilli, “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, 2013, p. 14.
 Gettings, Waters, King, Tanes, and Pistilli, “Message Testing and Self-Efficacy in Course Signals,” p. 16.