Personalized versus collective feedback in online health courses: Does type of instructor feedback affect student satisfaction, performance and perceived connectedness with the instructor?
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Major advancements in technology have always changed education. In the field of distance education, this change is evident by the presence and accessibility of a growing number of online courses and programs in higher education. Unfortunately, the rate at which traditional courses have converted to online formats has exceeded the rate of faculty training. For faculty, teaching in an environment separated by space and time requires a new set of skills and practices. One aspect of online teaching that instructors must prepare for is the increased written communication demands that accompany online education, such as the large amount of time needed to respond to student inquiries and to provide feedback on assignments. The study used a post-test quasi-experimental design to study differences between two forms of instructor feedback on student satisfaction, performance, and perceived connectedness with the instructor. In addition, this study examined the relationship between students' prior online learning experience (based on the number of courses taken online) and the aforementioned variables. To evaluate the variables of interest, four online health courses were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups: personalized or collective. Students in the personalized group received individual feedback from the instructor on each assignment. Students in the collective group received a collective feedback document from the instructor that summarized aspects of the assignment from the various student perspectives. Data were collected using an online survey. The findings revealed that students who received personalized feedback were more satisfied and performed academically better than students who received collective feedback. Furthermore, prior online experience moderately predicted student satisfaction and performance. However, no significant findings were found between treatment groups and the number of courses taken online on the variable of perceived student-instructor connectedness. This preliminary study about instructor feedback and student satisfaction and performance in the online setting provides a base for future studies in online education. The author recommends that researchers thoroughly examine the role of instructor feedback on student success. Most certainly, with time and the continuation of research, the body of knowledge pertaining to online education will grow, as will our understanding of what constitutes quality online teaching.
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