Feedback is not only a vital part of the learning process but also important for building rapport with students. Dr. Julio Rivera of the School of Business values feedback for both of these reasons, but he began wondering if there was a more effective way of delivering feedback, particularly in online courses where he lacked the typical interaction with students. So, when Rivera noticed that Canvas’s SpeedGrader feature provides an option for leaving video comments while grading student work, he tried it out.
He was pleasantly surprised by the results.
Since Spring 2020, Rivera has been leaving video comments on assignments in both his undergraduate and graduate courses. When he goes into SpeedGrader to evaluate an assignment, he also records a 3-5 video of himself elaborating on his evaluation and offering feedback for future learning. Rivera’s own personal preference is written feedback, but he quickly learned that by shifting to video he was able to reach students on a more personal level. And the students, in turn, reacted positively to the approach.
Like any good business analytics professor, Rivera surveyed his students about the use of video feedback and the positive response was overwhelming. Across his courses, 63% of students preferred the video feedback to written, while only 11% preferred the latter and the other 26% had no preference (X2=6.75 p=0.009). In their survey comments, students explained that they liked the more personal, human approach of the video commentary. They could see his expressions as he gave feedback, which in turn made criticism easier to accept. Yet students also felt they got more information through video comments and that the video feedback eliminated confusion that might have otherwise persisted in written comments.
That said, Rivera is adamant that video comments aren’t necessary all the time. As he says, "Just because I have a hammer doesn't mean I should hit everything with it." Instead, Rivera’s big takeaway from his experience is not “Should I do video or should I do written?” Instead, he suggests, “You really should consider doing both.” For something simple and quick, Rivera still prefers written feedback. He reserves video feedback for more complex assignments or long-term projects built in stages over the term. Overall, though, Rivera finds himself doing more video comments now than written because it has allowed him to improve personal engagement with students and effectively extend his teaching through feedback.