Key findings in evaluating three feedback modes

With burgeoning choices for feedback modes, I wanted to evaluate three ways of giving students feedback on written work to see what the students and I thought of the three modes. I gave feedback via annotated PDF (which is close to traditional marking-up of paper essays), via the comments feature in Google Docs, and via written and spoken comments in the iAnnotate iPad app.



Notability                                                     Google Docs

Bottom line: If revising, Google Docs is probably most efficient for both teacher and student. If not revising, voice comments with iAnnotate or Kaizena probably allows more comments, and some students much prefer hearing their feedback to reading it.

A look at each of the three modes:

Voice comments on the PDFs using the iAnnotate iPad app (voice comments also available for Google Docs with the Kaizena extension of Chrome)

From students’ perspective:

  • Allowed more feedback to be conveyed.
  • Was efficient in some respects.
  • Made finding specific feedback more difficult.
  • Required use of Adobe Reader.

Overall rating:  7.04/10.  27.3% would like feedback this way next time.  The rating was lower than Docs’, but there were many more 10/10 ratings than either of the other two modes.

From the teacher’s perspective:

  • Can convey more ideas more quickly with a voice comment.
  • Can convey encouragement with words and tone more easily than in writing.
  • Very difficult to review first draft voice feedback and compare with second draft.
  • Customized stamps (“Dropped quote” or “comma splice”) are great, though hard to see which is which in toolbar.
  • Underlining and highlighting tools are great. Can color-coordinate to match voice annotation icon.
  • Probably best for a select subset of students who much prefer it, and also for assignments that won’t be revised.

Annotated PDF using Notability

From the students’ perspective:

  • Some students prefer this more familiar-feeling mode.

Overall rating: 6.45 /10.  13.7 % would like feedback this way next time.

From the teacher’s perspective:

  • Shares similarities with paper comments.
  • Distinguished by ability to erase, move, and color coordinate comments (grammar is in blue, in need of improvement is in orange, etc.)
  • Lacks big advantages of Docs and iAnnotate.
  • Can compare revision with commented draft fairly easily.  

Comments in Google Docs

From the students’ perspective:

  • Comments on same page as revisable document is ideal, beats out PDFs.
  • When revising in class, students can post their question via “Reply” in the comments, but then keep working. They do not have to worry about forgetting the questions, sitting there waiting with hand up, or feeling embarrassed. The teacher can also decide when a quick conference is better than a quick reply to the comment.
  • Majority feels revising is easiest with Docs

Overall rating:  7.95/10.  59% would like feedback this way next time.

From the teacher’s perspective:

  • Easiest way to evaluate second drafts with Docs’ “revision history” and original comments easily accessed.
  • Inserting comments is quick, though feedback not as deep as spoken comments.
  • Can replicate the “stamps” idea from iAnnotate, with the added feature of live links to resources like grammar sites, etc. Make a doc with stamps (“Comma splice”) and the URL of the help resource;  when you paste it into the comment box, the link will be live.