Evaluating the UX of instructor feedback: An exploratory analysis
Beaudin, Andrea L.
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Effective strategies for responding to student writing have long been a concern in writing studies. The purpose of this research was to ascertain students’ perceptions of, expectations for, and interaction with instructor comments in order to evaluate the user experience (UX) of instructor feedback, with the goal of determining effective and engaging response techniques. To better understand how instructors were commenting on student writing, 69 instructors nationally and 7 (of 18) teachers of Introduction to Technical Writing at Texas Tech University were surveyed as to their methods of providing commentary and their evaluation of the effectiveness of their methods for their students. In addition, 60 Introduction to Technical Writing students were surveyed as to their expectations of, experience with, and preferences for receiving feedback on their writing. Sixteen of those surveyed also participated in user testing, during which they accessed their assignment in Blackboard, reviewed their instructor’s comments, and composed and prioritized a revision list based on the feedback they received. The findings from this study indicate that students by far have experience mainly with textual feedback (either handwritten or through embedded digital text), with little to no experience of alternative forms of commentary, such as audio or video. Instructor conference, however, is a preferred medium for delivery. Part of the reason for this preference is a greater sense of perceived engagement, less chance of confusion as to instructor tone and meaning, and a greater sense of positivity towards the experience as a whole. This study also uncovered issues with student interaction with the Blackboard UI, leading to user frustration and difficulty in completing the representative tasks. My analysis suggests that to improve the UX of commentary, instructors should contextualize their statements and be conscious of the potential misinterpretations of tone. In addition, employing multimedia strategies (such as a comprehensive class-wide screencast) better addresses multiple learning styles. Finally, given the issues that students faced with the learning management system, I urge instructors towards a “Pedagogical|UX Negotiation,” in which they anticipate the potential practical impediments to achieving pedagogical goals and implement strategies that allow students to overcome these impediments.