Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Tuesday Tech Tip: Providing Feedback Digitally to Help Track Mastery

Now that we've looked at aligning and designing in COLE 3.0/Schoology, the next thing to think about is refining. "The most powerful single modification that enhances achievement is feedback" (John Hattie). As one of the most powerful tools we can use to impact student achievement, this week's post is about effectively using digital feedback for assessments, assignments, and discussion boards.

Feedback with Assessments:
At a very basic level, students can get feedback on assessments simply by looking point totals.  However, there is a bigger impact on student achievement if the feedback is timely, corrective, & specific (David Sousa, How the Brain Learns).  When creating assessments in Schoology, you can set feedback options so that students can get immediate feedback with correct answers, and for some question types like multiple choice, you can also automate feedback based on responses.
As a teacher, you can also give comments on specific question responses.  In the example on the left, the teacher can view each student's response and add a comment specific to that question when appropriate.

When thinking about the kinds of feedback students or student data can provide for teachers, there are detailed assessment reports available that help inform teachers about instructional needs for the class as a whole and/or for individual students.  (And, any items aligned to standards will also be tracked for mastery.)  Additionally, students can type in comments (for the assessment in general) to let teachers know personal impressions or specific feedback.

Feedback with Assignments:
When creating assignments in Schoology that will be submitted or uploaded online, the student submissions area has feedback options for both teachers & students.  A student can add a comment when uploading content, and teachers can type in comments (or give audio comments) that only the student can see.

If you would like to use a rubric as a way to provide specific, criterion-based feedback for an assignment, you can create rubrics that are aligned to standards from within an assignment.  Use the "Create New" option under "Scale/Rubric" and then select which standards or learning objectives you will be measuring (you can also create your own criteria in this step).  Any items aligned to standards or objectives will be tracked for mastery.

While the rubric builder defaults to a 1-4 scale with generic descriptions (excellent, good, satisfactory, needs improvement), you can change the number of descriptors, the points associated with each level, and edit each of those levels to further delineate what each scale score reflects.  When you grade the item, simply check the boxes that reflect the student's achievement levels and it will tally the points for you.

Feedback with Discussion Boards:
If working in a discussion board, you can use points or a rubric (if it's a graded discussion board) as a way to give feedback, but you can also add comments.  Those can either be seen by the student or just added for your own information.  This is different than replying to a student's post -- if you reply to a post on a discussion board, it is visible to anyone in the class.  If you comment as part of a grade, it is only visible to the specific student.

Feedback with the Gradebook:
Schoology's gradebook is another place where teachers can give feedback via points, rubric scores, and comments.  This can be especially helpful when assessing items in Schoology that were not submitted via Schoology (student presentations, projects, offline assignments, etc.).  The gradebook can also be used to give overall comments on items that were submitted via Schoology (like online assessments), and comments can either be visible to students or visible only to you.  While rubric scores and comments stay in Schoology, all point totals can be pushed to PowerSchool's gradebook.

Providing feedback digitally for students and gathering feedback from students can help us refine what we do, how we do it, and how we can further strive for mastery.

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