Getzlaf, Perry, Toffner, Lamarche & Edwards

Effective Instructor Feedback: Perceptions of Online Graduate Students

Beverley Getzlaf, Athabasca University
Beth Perry, Athabasca University
Greg Toffner, Athabasca University
Kimberley Lamarche, Athabasca University
Margaret Edwards, Athabasca University


This descriptive study explored online graduate students' perceptions of effective instructor feedback. The objectives of the study were to determine the students’ perceptions of the content of effective instructor feedback (“what should be included in effective feedback?”) and the process of effective instructor feedback (“how should effective feedback be provided?”). The participants were students completing health-related graduate courses offered exclusively online. Data were collected via a survey that included open ended questions inviting participants to share their perspectives regarding effective online instructor feedback. Thematic analysis revealed five major themes: student involvement/individualization, gentle guidance, being positively constructive, timeliness and future orientation. We conclude that effective instructor feedback has positive outcomes for the students. Future studies are warranted to investigate strategies to make feedback a mutual process between instructor and student that supports an effective feedback cycle.


Online teaching; Instructor feedback; Graduate education; Computer assisted learning; Computer assisted instruction

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