Feedback is essential online

In an article in the International Journal of E-Learning (vol 7, issue3), Gallien and Oomen-Early (2008 ), studied whether students were more affected by personal or collected feedback from instructors in the online courseroom. She studied student satisfaction, academic performance and perceived connectiveness with the instructor considering the type of feedback.

Results showed that indeed students who received personal feedback on their assignments were more satisfied and performed better academically. Feedback is seen to provide both verification or elaboration of understanding. Students also showed satisfaction with the course design and the availability of the instructor.

As well, studies have found a connection between instructor-student interaction and satisfaction. As well, social presence of instructors and peers is also desirable and deemed as “the degree that individuals perceive others to be real in the online environment” (p.466). The term teacher immediacy is also used in this study indicating the enhanced “closeness by reducing the psychological distance between individuals”  through non-verbal language, praising, using humour, sharing one’s story and asking questions (p.467).

In short, the study shows that online students need frequent interaction, support and feedback from instructors, and want a sense of community with the instructor. This might be needed more  online requiring faculty to engage more than in face to face classes. However, considering the resistance of some instructors, the challenge is mandating this interaction and helping develop the skills through faculty development.

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