A Teacher Inquiry Trajectory on Making Feedback Visible


As teachers, we provide feedback to students all the time. If you have ever wondered exactly why we do it, what makes feedback effective, and which method is the best ways to provide it, you’re not alone.

David and Adam wondered about these questions and decided to undertake an arc of inquiry to investigate the answers. This blog post describes their process and some of the resources they recommend if you would like to explore this topic yourself.


Providing feedback is one of the most effective instructional strategies a teacher can use to help their students learn.

As David has previously written, effective teacher feedback, according to renowned educational researcher John Hattie, can double the “rate of learning” among students (Hattie 2012).

As well, John Marzano, in his meta-analysis of teaching strategies and their impact on learning, attributes an effect size of .61 to the tool of Setting Goals & Providing Feedback, which means that his meta-analysis shows that receiving feedback contributes to a 23% gain for those students in the 50th percentile, compared to those students who are not provided with feedback at all (Marzano 2001).

Feedback comes in many forms, and David and Adam decided to inquire about two modes of delivery: Digital-Typewritten and Digital-Verbal.

The following two research questions were developed:

  • What type of digital feedback – typewritten or verbally recorded – most benefits students’ essay writing for Geography?
  • In what ways does the digital recording of written and verbal feedback to students clarify understanding of the feedback?


In a grade 11 geography class of 11 students, David and his students progressed through these phases:


The trajectory begins with a preliminary survey to gather baseline information on students’ prior experience receiving feedback.

Students receive an essay assignment at the outset of the course. Over the course of the year, students will complete four essays, two during the first term and one each the subsequent two academic terms. The first paper is formative in nature (assessment for learning) and graded according to a rubric which includes criteria across levels in all four of the achievement categories.

In addition, students receive specific descriptive feedback in one of two digital formats; verbal or typewritten. The typewritten feedback is attached using the commenting/review feature of a word processor. The verbal feedback is recorded online using a digital tool called Kaizena, which enables teachers to provide students with asynchronous, verbal feedback that is embedded within context of the student’s digital submission. For typewritten feedback, files and links may be shared or passed back and forth. For verbal feedback, it is important for teachers and students to each add both the Kaizena Mini Add-on for Google Docs and the Kaizena Plug-In for Chrome.

Resources for Feedback and Reflection

In addition to the above Essay Rubric and Feedback Tutorials, this survey was developed to solicit insights from students regarding their perceptions of the impact of the feedback on their essays and about their learning preferences for the two modes of the feedback delivery.

As the term advances and students progress through the project, there will be opportunities to reflect on what is learned about these instances of feedback. Information from the students will inform these conclusions and an interview can posted here between David and Adam.

Here is a recording of our thoughts on the process to date.

Global Education Community Offering

If you would like to experience receiving feedback in a digital-verbal format using Kaizena, David and Adam would be happy to support you. Simply leave a note in the comments, below, with a link to a Google Doc that you create. Respond with the following prompts in that document, and they will request to share it and connect with you.

  • One thing I really like that about this post / this idea is…
  • After reading this trajectory post, I wonder…
  • I anticipate that digital-verbal feedback will be very effective for some students because…

Looking Forward to Connecting!


This post appears on the Cohort21 Network in support of coursework completed for the UOIT Integration of Information and Computer Technology Into the Classroom AQ Part 1.


4 Replies to “A Teacher Inquiry Trajectory on Making Feedback Visible”

  1. I’ll be following this with interest.
    However, my school does not endorse the use of Google docs for student work due to concerns about privacy. I wonder if there’s something similar to Kaizena which works for Word?

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