Rethinking Student Feedback

I’ve been talking a lot about gaming lately and how I plan to set up my courses for the upcoming academic year. For this post, I want to switch topics and talk about how we give feedback to students on their writing. Conceptualize/utilize my ideas here anyway you want. I’m going to be framing this around providing feedback on a dissertation proposal, but the larger ideas apply to how we give feedback to students in general.

So here we go.

I’m supposed to be giving feedback to a doctoral student on a dissertation proposal. Initially, I started off in the traditional format. A draft was emailed to me. I read it and gave feedback using track changes in Word. If the student had any questions we could meet to discuss.

Pretty typical stuff, right?

But recently I came across Kaizena. Kaizena is all about giving high quality feedback. I am sure there are many uses for it. I’ve only been using it for a very limited time so I am less familiar with all the uses of it, but I encourage you to give it a look. What appealed to me was that I could leave an audio recording of my feedback (you can also include written feedback as well).

To use Kaizena, I first had to put the document into google drive. I then just draw a box around the portion of the text I want to leave an audio comment on and press the record option. Then I talk. It’s easy. What you end up with are little green boxes on the document. You can click on any of those boxes and the appropriate recording is highlighted on the left of the screen. My comments ranged from about 30 seconds to two and a half minutes. I tried to never go over three minutes. If I found myself rounding that corner, I wrapped it up and started a new comment.

I worked on this for about half an hour and then called my student to explain what I was doing. I also needed an email address to share the document with my student. My student can now see what I have done and should be able to leave comments as well (we’re really new to this). That’s the basics on a very introductory level.

Why I Am Excited to Use It

When I called my student, I explained that we were going to give this a try. If it was too confusing, I could go back to the old track changes method. I was willing to let the student make that call. I pointed out that I thought it might be helpful because if I could articulate my thoughts by speech it might come across better than just leaving written comments.

My student pointed out that hearing the tone of my voice would probably be helpful to. Good point. Did you ever think about that? I didn’t. See, when I leave written comments I do my best to be direct and to the point. I want to be as clear as possible to obviously avoid confusing the student. BUT, sometimes we all read into the tone of the comment. We think someone is being mean or thinks we’re dumb – whatever. It’s not ever necessarily accurate, but it can cause drama when no drama needs to be caused.

Here’s another reasons why I am excited to dig into this: It disrupts the traditional feedback model. 

In this case, the traditional model is:

  1. student sends professor document for review
  2. professor reviews document and sends back to student
  3. (maybe) a meeting occurs to discuss document
  4. student revises document to best of ability
  5. whole thing starts over

I sent my student the document without having gotten through the whole thing. My student can get in and see what I am thinking before I have finished my entire review. We can have conversations at any point. My student can start revising right now while I continue to leave additional feedback.

Of course, I had to give my student early access. I could have done the traditional loop, but I chose to have my student get access after I had done about an hour’s worth of work. What my student does with this access, and what my student does with this program in general, has yet to be seen. However, I am interested to see how this plays out and how we each choose to make decisions about how feedback is given, how the document is discussed, and how revisions are made. I’ll work to document this alongside my gaming initiative. Stay Tuned!

One Year Ago Today


5 thoughts on “Rethinking Student Feedback

  1. Jordan Davis July 27, 2015 / 1:52 pm

    Hi Mrs. Hall! You’re blog post made me want to check out Kaizena for myself. I think this would be a great way my ELA resource class to listen or receive feedback online for their writing samples. Our school is 1-to-1 where every student has a laptop to use. Our students uses Google in about every class they attend and Kaizana would be a great resource for the teachers to comment directly on students writing. Also, I’m going to look into seeing if students can peer edit using this software too.
    I’m going to research more into this website to see how I can use it in my own classroom and share it with my fellow colleagues at school. Thank you!

    -Jordan Davis

    • leighahall July 28, 2015 / 2:24 pm

      Hi Jordan, I am pretty sure students can get in and leave comments (voice or written). It’s just a matter of the creator of the document sharing it with whoever they want to have access to it. In my example, we did it backwards. The student had sent me the document as an attachment and I put it into google drive making me the default author. I then had to share it with the author. Normally it would be the other way around. Let me know what you learn and if you use it how it goes.

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