Prompt Feedback

Why is prompt feedback important?

The need for PROMPT FEEDBACK is really less about the timing between student and faculty interactions and more about expectations.  When, where and how will the student get feedback from their assignments or questions?  How can they contact you and how quickly will you respond to them?

When one begins teaching online you enter a 24/7 world. This is great because you can work when you have the time.  If you are a night owl you can spend all night grading papers and responding to students.  If you have a tight schedule you can set times to work when you have the time.  The same is true for students.  The downfall is that students begin to expect you to be around anytime they have questions or concerns.  Instead of the 3-hour, face-to-face class-period in a traditional course, the options become limitless. This freedom of time brings with it a lot of anxiety about expectations.

Whether you teach synchronously or asynchronously you need to make sure that your students understand the communication expectations of the class.  The most important of these is how and when to expect your involvement and response.  Stating the timeframe for responses to emails, discussions and providing assignment feedback is key to setting the proper expectation that, while the course site is open 24/7,  you will not be a 24/7 instructor!

Here is a list of things to keep in mind while you are developing your course.

 Personal Interaction:

  1. How should students contact you?
    1. Phone
    2. Email
    3. Face to face
    4. Other options
  2. Will you have set office hours?
  3. How quickly will you respond to emails, phone calls, office visits?  Make this fit into your reality and life. The specifics are less important than the reliability of contact.  Some examples are:
    1. I will respond to emails within 48 hours.
    2. Do not expect a response on weekends or holidays.
  4. Let students know when you are going to be out of town or might not be able to participate fully in the class.


1. For each assignment tell students when to expect your response.

2. Be sure that students know where to find the feedback you’ve provided (e.g., if you post their papers with comments online, make sure they know where they are).

3. Fulfill the promises you make (e.g., the papers will be returned within one week).


Maintaining a presence in a course is another expectation that students have.  Let students know how you will be participating in discussion board conversations, blogs, wikis and other modes of online communication.  This is discussed further in the section on Discussion Boards.

(Darrencrone, 2010, November 17)

Ways to provide feedback

We traditionally think of feedback in the form of written feedback on assignments or verbal comments in a face-to-face setting. The latter becomes more difficult in a totally online course. We just have to change how we think about giving verbal feedback.

Written feedback:

  • Announcements
  • Blog
  • Discussion board
  • Email
  • Track changes in a word document
  • WIKI
  • Written comments sent via regular mail, attached to an email, or attached to the course content itself.

Voice feedback is a wonderful and personal way to connect with students in any setting.

  • Telephone call
  • Screen capture tools such as Jing, Camtasia
  • Web conferencing tools, such as Skype
  • Voice email
  • Audio recording tools such as Audacity


Darrencrone. (2010, November 17) Engaging Students.  [Video file]. Retrieved from