Category Archives: Feedback

A New Blog Post at ChemEd X-Change

I just published a post about using Google Forms to collect data and feedback on my videos. Check it out here. If you use something like Google Forms to collect feedback for your videos, I’d love to hear how it works for you. Or any other thoughts to share.



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Filed under #EdTech, ChemEd X-Change, Feedback, Flipped Classroom, Formative Assessment, Pedagogy

Creating an MYP Science and DP Chemistry Comment Bank

My school has a focused professional growth and evaluation plan that involves a Personal Teaching Initiative (PTI). The PTI asks us to find some part of our practice that we’d like to improve. This year I chose feedback, as I’d like to improve not only how quickly I provide feedback but the quality of my feedback. And to add to the ‘high quality’ feedback discussion, I’m working on finding methods to actually engage students in my feedback so that it is used more effectively.

To that end I’m creating a comment bank for my MYP chemistry labs and for my DP chemistry labs. They will not be the same, as they are based on different criteria. There are two main reasons I’m creating the comment banks. First, I am trying to make marking more efficient so I can complete it quickly – yet still effectively. Second, I am hopeful that my comments in the comment bank will actually be more descriptive/explanatory, and thus of more value to the students.

Last weekend I marked a set of labs for my MYP chemistry class and created the comment bank as I went along. The comment bank can be found here. I simply added comments to the comment bank that were used multiple times within my class of 20. On the lab report of a particular student, the raw data table might say “E.1” for the comment. The student then goes to the comment bank (linked on my class website) and sees that E.1 means, “Uncertainty (or uncertainties) missing from raw data table.”  When I have time, I’d ideally like to add more detail (see the “second reason” above for my justification). For E.1 the extra detail might be a sample data table that actually has proper uncertainties. If you have feedback on the MYP comment bank, I’d love to hear it! And feel free to borrow the comment bank and make it your own.

Now for my DP comment bank, I’m interested in getting some feedback on actual comments to include. Therefore I’ve created a survey (linked here) for people to add to my comment bank. If you have a comment that you use repeatedly in marking your DP students’ work, please share it here. If you complete my survey, I ask at the end if you’d like me to email you a copy of the results. Once I am done (give it a few weeks or more), I’ll compile the comments – trying to condense the comments that are similar – into a new comment bank and share that with interested teachers. I am asking you to share your email in the survey. I will not use your email for any purpose other than to send you the results when I am finished. And I will not share your email with anybody else.

I plan on sharing my impressions of using the comment bank with my classes, along with a few of the strategies I’ve developed (or borrowed from others!) to engage students with my feedback.

Thanks for your help.

Until then, happy marking!


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A new way to give feedback

My crazy spring has actually calmed down a bit, so I’ve got two things to blog about. First, in this post I’ll discuss briefly something I tried over the weekend to give better feedback to my students for their lab reports. (And at some point soon, I’d like to post about using Moodle and Learning Catalytics for using student-response systems as a formative assessment tool in my class.)

So let’s get to it. To begin, I’d like to offer a few details for context. I teach in the IB program at an international school, so the lab requirements are not really up to me. For better or worse, I have to help my students understand the rubric provided by IB for their lab reports. And I’ve struggled in the past with a few issues. I’ve never been very timely with my feedback, and I’ve never felt like I gave good feedback that students could really use to make future lab reports better.

So, I tried an idea I’ve been toying with for some time. I used my standard marking practice…I used my tablet ot mark on a student’s lab, and I filled in the rubric on paper as I went. (This lab is not going to be sent to IB, it is only a practice lab.) That’s no different from normal. But this time, I used Screen-cast-o-matic to record an .mp4 of my marking of the lab. The student then gets to see me write on her/his lab report while I gave commentary. So my typical “uncertainties?” comment got a 2 or 3 sentence explanation about what the student didn’t include and what would have been a reasonable set of uncertainties. During the recording of my feedback, I spoke to every single line on the rubric for each aspect of the criteria covered (DCP and CE).  In class today, I gave each student her/his Word document with my marking, the paper rubric and the .mp4 file with my commentary. (I did this through Moodle and the “Advanced Assignment” feature. It took about four minutes to upload them all.)

So how’d it go? I suppose I’d like to say it went well. However, I also want to reserve judgement until I can see the next lab reports to see if there really is solid improvement because of my effort here. Until then, it’s speculation and feedback from my students.

As for speculation, I suspect the students that got my feedback will actually improve. I made submitting this lab optional (and told my students I’d have a surprise for them if they submitted). Therefore, I didn’t get that many. So in some ways, I can conduct a bit of an experiment comparing students with the feedback to students without my feedback. Not perfect, but it’ll be interesting.

As for feedback from the students, I’d have to rank it up there as one of my better ideas. Ever. I’d suggest that the students that didn’t get feedback actually understood the missed opportunity based on the excitement of their peers that were listening to my feedback in class. It was their own private commentary from me. This wasn’t a typical full-class discussion where I used generalities noticed from patterns of all the lab reports. This was specific and ONLY to the student about her/his lab report.

And the entire process leads me to a few follow-up issues to discuss.

First, the timing of it all. It took almost double the amount of time to mark, because I didn’t think I could give good commentary without first looking at the student’s lab report. I didn’t want to be reading a lab report while recording. “Er…um…well… (pause)…sorry, let me re-read that sentence.” I didn’t give marks the first time I read…just enough to have a basic idea of strengths and weaknesses so I’d have a place to start. The longest commentary for a student with a full write-up took about 20 minutes of video, and about 30 minutes of time. Multiply that by five classes of 30 and you end up with an unmanagable amount of work. Luckily I don’t have five classes of 30 so I don’t have that problem. (Yes, I’m very lucky.) However, I also don’t think this is something I’ll do for every lab. I think once per semester, or even once in the early spring and once again in the fall for IB students will be my goal.

Second, the logistics of it all. As I mentioned, I used Screen-cast-o-matic. It’s freeware. It’s really easy to use. And to keep file sizes managable, I saved things with a reduced video size, rather than full-on HD. My biggest file size was maybe 20 MB. Moodle handled it just fine when I uploaded it to the student assignment. I am lucky to have a tablet to write on the student’s work. However, if I didn’t, I could still see using this technique and typing comment boxes instead. Or simply highlighting as I’m discussing.

Any other thoughts on this technique or other methods you use for giving timely and helpful feedback for lab reports?

Until next time…


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