neutral, and probing comments or questions.
Grading and Feedback
Quality feedback is important, regardless of the mode of learning. However, Frayer (2014) found
that students perceive faculty feedback as one of the most important dimensions of the online
classroom. Feedback serves the purpose of enhancing cognitive understanding of course material
and provides a mechanism for motivation, interpersonal connection, and engagement (Mandernach,
2018). Providing quality feedback is a critical teaching role for online faculty, and it takes time.
Faculty need to set aside time devoted to delivering quality feedback. We provide the following
suggestions, along with examples of different forms of feedback, to help faculty balance their
workload and, at the same time, enhance student learning and satisfaction with online learning.
In designing the course, include some learning activities that provide opportunities for learning that
do not require grading. We have found some great resources available online that are interactive,
and students can earn a certificate. Care needs to be taken to ensure that these resources are a
good fit to facilitate meeting the course outcomes. Some examples that we have successfully used
that students value include modules from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These agencies provide in-depth learning modules
in which students can submit evidence that the work has been completed and earn a certificate.
In organizing the learning modules, give consideration to when there will be a heavier load for
assessment, requiring the provision of extensive feedback. For example, you may want to integrate
an assignment with automated feedback that is done the week following the due date of a major
writing assignment and not have a discussion that week.
We believe that developing feedback banks or using automated-response software programs is at
the discretion of faculty. They are very useful for large online classrooms. Feedback banks are
responses that faculty use frequently because it saves time to copy and paste them. The concern is
that they may take away the personalization that faculty like to convey. We do use less personal
strategies, such as copied and pasted feedback that highlights certain learning outcomes we want to
reinforce for all students, which would be combined with feedback that is more personal and
specific to the student’s work. For example, the comment, “Examining historical events in the
context of the social and political times by using both primary and secondary sources is so important
to increase our understanding of the events” was used in an Evolution of Nursing course, followed
by an individualized comment about the student’s specific work.
Group feedback can be an effective way to provide feedback to the entire class or a small group. This
could be related to seeing a common pattern of errors and used as a teachable opportunity, or it
could be motivated by a desire to highlight how the class did exceptionally well. Group feedback may
also come from a feedback bank developed in a previous semester and found to be relevant in a
subsequent class. Table 9-7 provides an example of group feedback in response to the work done for
a module on trauma-informed care. Note that the announcement highlights some things that were
done well, provides some direct teaching, and corrects some information without pointing out any
errors in thinking that came through in the students’ work.
Feedback can be personalized by using students’ names and making specific reference to their work
or professional context. Students value feedback that is individualized, provides gentle guidance, is
positively constructive, is specific, and is written in a positive tone that suggests changes that can be
useful in other contexts (Getzlaf, Perry, Toffner, Lamarche, & Edwards, 2009). Adults, in particular,
are sensitive to feeling respected and validated and want a clear connection between their academic
and professional work (Merriam, 2001). We know that the ability to learn and be open to feedback
improves when people feel valued and respected. After receiving this kind of feedback, students will
comment that they feel motivated to learn more because their confidence is increased. Examples of
personalized feedback are provided in Table 9-8.
Grading and Timeliness
Grading in a timely manner is important not only for student satisfaction but also for student
learning. Students cannot make any needed improvements to their discussion posts, for example, if
they do not have the feedback to help them in this regard. Therefore, we make it a practice to grade
the discussions within a few days of the close of the discussion, especially at the beginning of the
course, when students are learning the expectations.
Assignments are typically graded within a week. There may be some differences in when grading
needs to be completed, depending on the length of the semester and institutional policy. For
example, in a 5- to 7-week semester, the turnaround time for grading and feedback needs to be
much shorter for students to benefit. Faculty should let students know when to expect to see their
grades and keep them updated if it is going to take longer than anticipated. There are some other
considerations that faculty need to think about when it comes to assessing assignments. Grading
major papers can be very challenging and time consuming. Table 9-9 lists some recommendations
for the assessment of written assignments.
It is important for nursing faculty to provide a learner-centered environment that facilitates a
community of learners who advance in the knowledge-construction process and develop skills that
can be applied to their nursing practice. Faculty members who maintain a strong teaching presence
within the community of learners can effectively hold students accountable for active participation.
Assessment is an intentional part of course design. Grading and providing feedback are critical
components of assessment that can have the potential to motivate or deflate a student. This is why
there is an emphasis on taking the time to provide quality feedback. Even a poor grade can be
couched with feedback that is respectful and caring to maximize the impact on student confidence.
Best-Practice Recommendations for Online Teaching
Theoretical pedagogy is critical in guiding faculty to intentionally connect theory to their teaching
Engaging in ongoing self-reflection prior to and during the teaching process is critical for faculty to
develop expertise in online teaching.