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“When Will I Get My Grades?” How You and Students Benefit from the Answer

Submitted by on August 12, 2013 – 12:53 pmNo Comment

One of the most common questions students ask deals with a course’s feedback time frame, that is, the turnaround time in which instructors provide grades and comments on assignments. A feedback time frame is also one of the most common items instructors omit from the course syllabus. Why is this?

  • Instructors want to avoid grading overload, which can create unrealistic expectations for students. Courses often have 25+ students per section, and when instructors teach multiple sections, the amount of grading can pile up quickly.

However, by understanding research-based practices, instructors can establish feedback time frames that simultaneously benefit students’ learning and prevent grading overload.

female hand writing on calendar

Determine a Purposeful Feedback Time Frame

Quality Matters Standard 5.3 states that “the instructor’s plan for classroom response time and feedback on assignments is clearly stated.” This standard is based on the research article The Seven Principles of Good Practice: A Practical Approach to Evaluating Online Courses. This research reveals that “prompt feedback is a basic tenet of quality instruction” (see section 4.4. Good Practice Gives Prompt Feedback). “Feedback” includes “information or evaluation along with grades.” The research found that for students to benefit from feedback, instructors should provide feedback within one week or less. This time frame allows students to apply the feedback to upcoming work. Students do not benefit from feedback if it’s it too late to apply it to the next assignment. As stated in the article,

The longer it takes to get feedback, the smaller the impact the feedback is likely to have on the student.”

Tailor the Time Frame to Your Course

Providing feedback within a week may not be feasible; you need to examine your course and set a realistic time frame based on the types of assignments and work being completed, keeping in mind that sooner is better than later. By establishing your course’s feedback time frame, you help to

  • lower students’ anxiety, which can promote engagement and retention in the course, and
  • lower your anxiety by decreasing the number of emails you receive from students asking when grades and feedback will be available.

How to Craft a Grading Feedback Statement

State a standard time frame for returning grades and feedback. Then explain that if extraneous circumstances arise, you will post an announcement informing students when they can expect grading information. For example:

Grading Feedback

With the exception of the business plan, I will attempt to return feedback on your assignments a week after the due date. If I determine that grading will take longer than a week, you will see an announcement from me in the course. Discussion posts will have grades posted a week after the module ends.

This simple piece of information aligns your course to quality standards, helps to relieve students’ anxiety, and keeps your inbox clean throughout the semester.

Your Turn!

How do you deal with letting students know when they will receive their grades? Share your ideas, tips, and feedback statement with us in the comments section! [social-bio]

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