targetedimprovementsYour online students need one thing from you more than anything else: Feedback.This comes in two forms: encouragement (coming in online teaching tip #3) and targeted improvement points (aka TIPs). I’m surprised by how many online instructors either forget this altogether or spend a lot of time giving students generic feedback that students find unhelpful. If you can get good at giving TIPs, you’ll see positive comments on it in your evaluations.

Here’s a brief overview for giving Targeted Improvement Points to your online students.

1. Get a notepad. I’m often guilty of scanning student posts, and taking notes helps with that. As you read your student’s work, jot down shorthand notes.

2. Know your learning goal for the activity. Focus your feedback by first reviewing your learning goals for the activity you are giving feedback on. There are a thousand things you could target, but this will narrow it down to most important learning tasks.

3. Let them know. Start your TIPs with the student’s name followed by “here’s how you can improve.” It’s simple, but it frames this for your students and get’s their attention because it is answering the question they are asking.

4. Keep things Succinct and Clear. This will be your greatest challenge. We have to keep our TIPs brief, otherwise it becomes an onerous task, and we never turn it into a habit. Keep it to 2-3 points and make them actionable.

5. Link to Resources. Instead of explaining a dangling modifier, paste in a link that explains it to your student.
Purdue’s Online Writing Lab is a perfect resource for grammar, punctuation, citations. This allows you to focus on the content while helping your student improve their writing.

6. Invite Questions. Always end with, “If you need more feedback, just drop me an email.” This is a good learner-centered practice that puts the ball back in the student’s court.

photo by Comedy_Nose