How do students know you’re providing feedback?

While this world of online courses continues to expand, it is essential to create a path for improvement for students to travel easily. Your thorough feedback is part of the continuous improvement and learning loop. Scaffold a few assignments or allow students to turn work in multiple times to reach goals and to ensure their learning is in line with the objectives you’ve set.

Consider the importance of feedback as part of the formative assessment process. When you walk the path between formative and summative assessment, ask your students to join you and ensure they have the road map in hand. Provide a few low-stake graded activities (or non-graded items) on the way to a high-stake assessment. Formative assessments help you monitor how your student is progressing. Your personalized feedback crafts, nudges, and improves their learning experience. For example you might ask your students to turn in a research or project proposal for your review. The feedback you provide allows a student to revise and refine their ideas; as a result you get a stronger paper or project to grade in the end. (1)

While you might think students can evaluate their work by your score and the assignment instructions, you are strengthening the whole learning process by providing clear feedback. “Consideration of standards and criteria is not enough in itself, unless they are applied to the learner’s own work and feedback sought on the appropriateness of the application, then learners cannot be confident that they are able to use them to improve their own learning. … evidence from formative assessment research suggests that engagement with the task is likely more readily to lead to learning.” (2))

To benefit from your feedback, students must first know where to look. It’s a good idea to provide instructions on where to find it. Let’s take a look at the feedback mechanism in Blackboard.

  1. Check what the student sees by clicking on Go to Student View and then on My Grades.
  2. Instruct students to click on the dropdown to Expand Grade Details.How_Do_You_Know-smear
  3. Or, have them click on the title to view the full grade report.

Individualized feedback to the student is every bit as powerful to success in your course as your module objectives, and student outcomes as stated in your syllabus. Your feedback shows the student where she is on the learning curve between not knowing and being able to apply the materials being studied.


  1. Eberly Center. (n.d.). What is the difference between formative and summative assessment? Whys and hows of assessment.
  2. Boud, D. (2000). Sustainable assessment: Rethinking assessment for the learning society. p. 161. Studies in Continuing Education, 22(2), 151-167.


Let’s say you routinely spend a considerable length of time grading and providing value through your feedback. What if your students may not realize you’ve done so. The steps you’ve taken to provide that student with the confidence they need to move forward is lost in the wind like so many leaves on that path we’re walking. Poof, the student is gone; you’re walking alone. Good for exercise, but not the outcome you hoped for.

“Assessment activities should leave students better equipped to tackle their next challenge, … Part of being equipped for the next task is having sufficient confidence that it can be approached with some chance of success.” (p. 161)

Let’s lift the veil of mystery that may shroud some Blackboard users by making feedback very accessible and by understanding the product, Blackboard, and the grading mechanism more.

What does your student see?

You can check exactly what a student sees by

  1. Grading an assignment that you submit as “demo” student.
  2. Changing your view to the student view {click “Go To Student View” upper right corner.}
  3. Accessing “My Grades.”
    My Grades is most often found in the left-hand navigation in a Blackboard course shell.
  4. Viewing the assignment submission and feedback.
    Once a student is viewing their grades, your comments show up in a column in the middle of the page. However, not all of your comments are displayed unless the student expands the row or clicks on the assignment title to see the full view.

This is the view a student sees when they click on the assignment title: