Multimodal feedback for classrooms: Reach students with more personalized learning

Effective feedback for students is a struggle for teachers for a few reasons:

  • It’s time-consuming: If you leave personalized feedback for students on every assignment, you’re likely not returning student work fast enough.
  • It doesn’t go into enough detail: If you’re not leaving detailed and personalized feedback, your students aren’t learning from your grading. 
  • It’s demoralizing: Your written comments come with little context, and the feedback can be harsh to students. 

With classroom grading, it seems like students and teachers can’t win. But multimodal feedback strategies bring a new solution to student feedback.

Multimodal feedback

What is effective feedback for students?

Feedback needs to be timely, relevant, and meaningful. Feedback is most meaningful when you focus on progress. Here are some examples of progress-focused feedback:

  • “This is a clearer thesis statement compared to your last essay.”
  • “Your research outline includes a wide variety of examples.”
  • “Be sure to connect these two ideas when you revise.”

Feedback is more powerful to students when infusing it into student work during the process. You can give more constructive feedback with multimodal feedback.

What is multimodal feedback?

Feedback is more effective when multimodal (audio, visual, video, etc.) rather than simple annotations on a page. With multimodal feedback, you’re going beyond writing notes in the margin. You can simulate a coaching or one-on-one session with screencasts, recordings, or videos. 

Advantages of multimodal feedback

The feedback that you give on assignments is a form of teaching. For students to learn from the feedback, they often need to process the feedback in multiple formats. That’s why multimodal instruction is so effective. 

Students take feedback, decode it, and apply it to their work. If they can’t decode, then the learning doesn’t occur. Multimodal feedback helps students decode feedback more effectively than simple notes in assignment margins. 

Multimodal feedback also helps with student relationships. Often teachers seem to write simple comments that can feel destructive to a student’s confidence, such as “?,” “no,” or “redo.” Students have very little to go on with this form of feedback, and they often take these comments as mean-spirited rather than coming from a teacher on a time crunch. 

When you use multimodal feedback in your classroom, you and your students benefit from:

  • Hearing your voice: tone and context are vital for feedback.
  • Receiving feedback in complete sentences: you’re more likely to give more complete feedback when you record it.
  • Positive attributes: it’s hard to be mean when speaking to a student virtually. 

How can you make your classroom feedback multimodal?

There are many ways you can incorporate multimodal teaching strategies into how you give student feedback.

Assign less and focus on the feedback

When you dive into making your feedback fit your multimodal classroom, you will need to prioritize where you give feedback. Think carefully about the assignments that matter most.

You can automate a lot of the grading by making online auto-grade assignments. TeacherMade speeds up grading for teachers by grading fixed-answer questions and allowing teachers to focus on open-ended and constructive feedback.

Choose a goal and tailor feedback to the goal

Focus on improving a major area of a task. In an ELA class, you may be focusing on the argument of a persuasive essay. You would not provide feedback on grammar but instead focus on the mechanics and organization of the content. This allows your feedback to be more focused. 

Keep feedback to 5 minutes or less

When you stay focused on a key area, it’s easier to keep your feedback short and focused. It also helps keep your student’s attention. Research says multimodal feedback should not exceed five minutes. Otherwise, it loses effectiveness. 

Be specific and use words that students understand

The goal of feedback is not to explain the grade but rather to lead students to better outcomes. Give clear feedback to students. That means being specific and speaking to their level. The beauty of multimodal feedback is to record messages that mimic coaching or one-on-one tutoring.

Give students time to do revisions

Once you have given students the multimodal feedback, give them time to process it. This often looks like revisions. Students can implement the feedback into the exact assignment to work on the specific tasks you outline.

Have a digital workflow

The first time you implement multimodal feedback it will feel like a big hurdle. That’s because you must establish a digital workflow. Once you have your preferred student feedback tools, then the process speeds up. Here are a few ideas:

  • Google Docs: Google Docs is meant for feedback. It’s one of the best places to comment on long-form writing assignments.
  • Screencastify: Take those comments one step further with a screencast app. It will take comments up a notch in effectiveness. It’s incredibly fast to give your thoughts on digital assignments, but it’s powerful for students to hear your voice as you give feedback.

TeacherMade: TeacherMade is the best all-in-one assignment and feedback app. You can upload your existing paper assignments into TeacherMade. Add 20+ different question types, and leave a variety of feedback for students. You can use TeacherMade to auto-grade most (or all) questions and then focus on giving feedback on key questions. You can provide written, audio, and video feedback on assignments.