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OLP 2017 Webinar: Lesson 6

Video from NFLRChawaii YouTube Channel

Let’s Begin…

This lesson is part of the NFLRC Online Language Pedagogy Series designed for in-service teachers of world languages online.  The lesson is titled Providing effective online feedback and presented by Michelle L. Stabler-Havener.

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Webinar slides

In the presentation, it was noted that effective feedback is informative and focused. To be informative, feedback needs to be specific and detailed (Pellegrino, Chudowsky, & Glaser, 2001; Gibbs & Simpson, 2004).*  Try to avoid making general comments like “nice work,” unless the comment is followed up by mentioning something that was distinctly “nice” about the assignment.  At the same time, feedback should be balanced.  If too much information is given, learners may feel overwhelmed.  If too little is provided, they will not know how to improve. To be effective, learners need to be able to understand the feedback, so keep it simple, clear and appropriate to the learners’ ages and language levels.  Additionally, feedback should relate to the task descriptors and a set of standards that have been created for the assignment such as a rubric.  Moreover, it is best if feedback is given as soon as possible and comes from more than one source; for example, it is delivered in both written and oral form (Bitchner, Young, & Camerson, 2005). When giving feedback, learners’ affect should also be considered, so remember to include some specific positive comments along with constructive feedback. Keep feedback performance focused rather than commenting on learners’ personality traits (Gibbs & Simpson, 2004). Furthermore, avoid comparing learners to each other and using feedback as a punishment or reward (Hill & McNamara, 2012).  For feedback to have maximum impact, request learners to respond to it in some way such as by asking them to resubmit the assignment or apply what they learned to future assignments. 

In addition to what makes feedback effective, types of feedback—written, oral, and peer—were discussed.  The sources upon which the written and oral feedback sections of the presentation were based are listed below if you would like to dig deeper into these topics.  Bitchner & Ferris (2011) noted that written feedback can be direct, indirect, or a combination of the two.  Direct feedback identifies and explains specific errors.  Examples of the correct structure may also be provided.  Indirect feedback, on the other hand, only draws attention to the error through means such as circling or underlining.  Research has found that direct feedback may be the most effective form of written feedback.  Regarding oral feedback, six different types described by Lyster and Ranta (1997) were mentioned.  These included explicit correction (noting the form was incorrect and then correcting it), recasts (repetition of what was said without the error), clarification requests (used in response to an incomprehensible or inaccurate utterance), metalinguistic feedback (asks questions related to how the utterance is formed), and elicitation (asking questions and asking students to repeat what they said again).  Concerning peer feedback, Brown and Abeywickrama (2010) mention that learners should be told the purpose of providing feedback to their peers and encouraged to be impartial as they assess their peers.  Furthermore, clear guidelines and instructions on how to give meaningful feedback ought to be given.

The presentation also looked at how to use commenting, marking, audio, and video tools in programs such as Microsoft Word, Google Docs, VoiceThread, Vocaroo, Skype, and learning management systems like Canvas to provide effective feedback in online courses.  Links to some of these tools can be found below. If you are especially interested in the topic of how to provide feedback using online technologies, you may enjoy the article “Effective feedback design using free technologies” by Yuan and Kim (2015). 

*Full references not listed below can be found at the end of the “Lesson 6: Providing effective online feedback” PowerPoint presentation. 


Written Corrective Feedback 
Bitchner, J., & Ferris, D. R. (2011).  Written corrective feedback in second language acquisition and writing (Chap. 6).  Abingdon, UK: Taylor and Francis.

Oral Corrective Feedback 
Lyster, R., & Ranta, L. (1997). Corrective feedback and learner uptake. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, null(01), 37–66.

Using Online Technologies to Provide Feedback 
Yuan, J., & Kim, C. M. (2015).  Effective feedback design using free technologies.  Journal of Educational Computing Research, 52(3), 408-434.


Tools to Provide Online Feedback Presented in the Lesson 

Google Docs—Free with a Gmail account:
VoiceThread—Free to register an account:
Archived workshops on how to use VoiceThread:

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