Feedback is an essential part of education. Without feedback, students may find themselves confused and disengaged. Providing instructors the ability to impart their knowledge to students through constructive criticism improves the learning experience for all involved. Unfortunately, many students today aren’t able to capitalise on feedback from knowledgeable, experienced professors and teaching assistants due to outdated and ineffective modes of communication.

Instructors spend a significant amount of time providing feedback on assignments, tests, and exams. This generation of students, however, was raised on technology. Too often educational institutions still rely on traditional systems that create volumes of paper and hand written comments – some of which may never reach the hands of the students who need it.

Why students don’t collect feedback

There are a number of reasons a professor’s constructive feedback may never reach the student:

  1. Students miss opportunities to pick it up. In some situations, feedback is only available during specified times, be it in class or during office hours. Students may miss classes due to a litany of reasons and, thus, completely miss out on feedback. This is quite unfair as students may miss a class for a completely legitimate reason (e.g., a medical appointment).
  2. They don’t believe feedback will help. Some students may believe that feedback won’t help them or that it will be too critical. They may avoid receiving feedback out of fear or low self-esteem. Setting a precedent that feedback will be consistently constructive will help eliminate this fear in students.
  3. They find the information in other ways. Students may already know their grade through their friends or other means. In these cases, students are much less likely to take the extra step of reading their feedback.
  4. It needs to be timely. When students receive feedback on a test or assignment after an extended period of time, they will have moved on and be less receptive to the input, consequently the opportunity to learn is diminished.

These are real problems, and they need to be addressed. Educators and academics have studied them in detail to find out how feedback can be delivered to those who need it (even if they think they don’t).

How digital technology can help

A proven way to more effectively deliver feedback to students is through the use of technology. Instead of having to travel to campus, talk to the instructor, and then wade through a pile of papers, the assignment can be sent directly to the student digitally. This can be done simply by emailing the assignment to the student or through the School’s learning management system. This allows for a host of benefits; more timely delivery of test results, a more efficient method of providing rich feedback as well the creation of a repository of data and digital artifacts of assignments, should a dispute arise.

Ricoh has extensive experience deploying education solutions for post-secondary institutions across Canada. We help Canadian educators improve learning environments and student success.

Talk to a Ricoh representative to find out how we can help you deliver better, more constructive feedback to students.