Content Tech: Providing Feedback

Content Tech
Ideas for Technology Use in the Classroom

Continuing our exploration of Using Technology with Classroom Instruction that Works, the next global question addressed is, “Which strategies will provide evidence of student learning?” The first strategy for this question is providing feedback.

“…feedback is ‘the most powerful single innovation that enhances achievement.’” (p.41)

This is not a rocket-science discovery, but the research (over 8,000 studies) points to the effectiveness of providing feedback.

A series of technology tools are presented in this chapter to support providing feedback – I’m going to focus on two that have impact in any classroom and are under-utilized. In word processing tools, Microsoft Word has two options that can really improve feedback: tracking changes and readability scale.

Students are very comfortable word processing documents, and can submit them electronically via a drop box. With the track changes tool, teachers or peers can review the documents, and provide comments directly in the file for the writer to review and respond to. Once the original author accepts or rejects changes, the final document can be viewed with or without changes visible. This option is also great so students can see the revision process in action. To turn on tracking, choose Track Changes from the Tools menu.

Another tool in Microsoft Word is the Flesch-Kincaid readability scale. After doing a spell check, if the readability scale option is checked, a summary of the document comes up with the reading level. Students who use this tool can judge the level of their writing using the scale. To activite the readability scale, choose Tools | Options | Spelling & Grammar and check the box to display readability statistics. They will appear each time a spell check is run.

Communication software can help with providing feedback as well. Blogs (such as this one you are reading) are great ways to post exemplars or student work and have students respond / critique / analyze the work. WITS discussion forums work well for this also, and can be set up so students can see or post to individual pieces. To set up the WITS discussion forums for your class, go to the class list section of WITS, pick a class, and choose the setup tab to activate the forums.

I’ve left out some other technology tools that are very useful in providing feedback (such as the clickers), but if you try at least one of the above, you will have a very useful new tool at your disposal to provide effective, timely feedback.

Book citation:
Pitler, H., Hubbell, E. R., Kuhn, M., & Malenoski, K. (2007). Using technology with classroom instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Image citation:
A Koranic school in Cairo.. IRC. 2005. Discovery Education. 19 November 2008 <>