It’s normal for students to struggle in any course. But the reality is, not everyone may feel comfortable coming to your office hours to ask for help or seeking out support through peers or teaching assistants. The underlying cause in many instances is a lack of connectedness—an issue that runs especially deep in large introductory courses. Without early and frequent warning signs, it can be particularly tough to identify and support struggling learners. Two innovative professors were determined to change that.
Jessica Kruger, Director of Teaching Innovation and Excellence and Shauna Zorich, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University at Buffalo, SUNY, wanted to better understand the role of tailored feedback on student success. Their research, funded by Top Hat, underscores the value of the platform’s iterative signals as a warning system to get poorly performing students back on track. Here are some practical ways to adjust feedback in your course to support student success.
Two types of student feedback examples (+ Free email templates)
Is your feedback personal or generic? Asking yourself this question will help you reflect on the feedback you currently give, and the direction you may want to take in the future.
This type of feedback isn’t customized to the student or their unique learning needs, but can be used to give students a friendly nudge to review course concepts again before their next assessment. There are no specifics left as to how students might grow and improve upon their study efforts in the future. Kruger uses the following template when giving generalized feedback.
|Dear Student name,|
I’m reaching out to provide some feedback on your performance this week in class. I noticed that you [answered a few questions incorrectly / left all questions unanswered / left some questions unanswered]. Just a reminder that it is important to engage with course materials and complete all assigned work. Participation is essential for success in the course. Please reach out if you have any questions.
All the best,
Personalization is at the heart of tailored feedback. Students are given greater clarity on the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of their learning and are given a chance to build upon the skills they were assessed on. Educators go the extra mile to point out where students struggled and direct learners to lectures, readings and campus resources to support their academic growth.
Both Kruger and Zorich rely on Top Hat’s frequent and comprehensive insights to spot struggling students during and beyond class time. A Weekly Course Report indicates the top and lowest performing students—giving both professors a look at student learning gaps within minutes. The report also surfaces the exact questions that tripped students up, helping educators share appropriate resources to get learners back on track. Below, Kruger has developed an alternative email template to make her feedback more meaningful.
|Dear Student name,|
I’m reaching out to provide some feedback on your performance last week. I noticed you missed the following Top Hat questions:
Question X. More information about this question can be found in the XXXXXXX lecture/reading
Question Y. More information about this question can be found in the XXXXXXX lecture/reading
Question Z. More information about this question can be found in the XXXXXXX lecture/reading etc.
Just a reminder that it is important to engage with course materials and complete all assigned work. Participation is essential for success in the course. Please reach out if you have any questions.
All the best,
How teacher feedback predicts student success
Professor-to-student connection can directly influence engagement and persistence. In their study, the scholars explored how tailored and non-tailored feedback impacted feelings of belonging, engagement and course readiness. A total of 261 students across two undergraduate public health courses were split into either the tailored or non-tailored condition. The results among those in the former category?
- 90 percent recognized their standing in class
- 77 percent kept up with course materials
- 64 percent felt more connected to their professor
Kruger and Zorich’s students also made it clear that checking in makes all the difference on their perception of their professors. “Thank you for reaching out to me…I understand how important it is to participate in this class. I genuinely do enjoy the material of this class and I am excited to have you again for the semester. Thank you for still checking in and for your time,” shared one student.
How Top Hat can help you deliver personal student feedback
As Kruger and Zorich can attest, Top Hat can be an indispensable tool to inform students of their class standing while fostering connectedness in the classroom. Here’s how to use our dynamic courseware platform to help your students (and yourself) get an instant look at progress.
- Polls and quizzes break up lectures and get students talking with one another (and you)
- Interactive discussions let students weigh in on what concepts are most confusing and allow learners to see who is in the same boat as them, creating a sense of camaraderie
- Actionable learning insights with weekly course reports allow you to monitor student progress at the class and individual level, helping you tailor your feedback accordingly