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Live Well, Work Well


This short read from Lawley Insurance Group explains how stress can negatively affect the health of your skin and provides some tips for reducing stress in your life, which is especially applicable to this time of year as we approach the holidays.

Submitted by: Bethany Voorhees, executive associate, President’s Office

Better Feedback on Student Work

A chronic complaint among college faculty is that students do not read or act upon the feedback professors provide on student work. But properly conceived feedback to individual students can be as much or more important than anything you present in lecture or have students do in other activities. Here are some tips to make feedback more efficient and effective.

When grading exams, homework, papers or essays, reports, and other student work, professors work hard to provide comprehensive feedback. “Grading” is often spending time describing to students, via red pen or keyboard, how they can do better either on a specific subsequent assignment, or in the future generally. After all that time and effort assessing student work it is disheartening to discover that a student subsequently made halfhearted improvements, or ignored the feedback altogether.

Feedback as Next Steps

Instead of attempting to comment on every issue you find in a student’s work, consider this: If you could only pick a few, what are the next actions on which the student should focus their reflection, time, effort, and courage?

How many next actions or steps depends on assignment design, length, scale, scope, frequency, and so on. But generally, for a short writing assignment you may need to supply only one direction for a next step. For a longer or larger assignment, you might pick several. Likely, these are issues

  • that are fundamentals in your course subject, disciplinary content or style of communication.
  • that are more urgent. For example, if a student has not mastered a particular concept, they may not be able to advance in the course.
  • for which you can quickly highlight numerous instances. That is, a more common problem in their work.

However you choose next actions for each student, you are directing them to focus on a few important issues rather than itemizing every flaw in their assignment submission.

Actionable Feedback

It is possible for faculty provide too much feedback. When students see a carpet of red ink down the margins of their paper, or an essay almost as long as that which they submitted detailing all large and small problems with their work, they can easily become discouraged. They might reason: Is all this worth it, or can I just live with a C? A C grade might not derail their future career plans, but their resignation stops their learning or developing as writers, researchers or creators.

Plus, even if they are willing to consider their professor’s feedback, where do they begin? Where should they spend more time: improving their argument? Improving visual aids? Revisiting their organization? All those sentence construction problems?

Instead, if a student is handed just two or three things to focus on when improving a draft, this seems manageable and realistic. They have time to properly reflect on each issue, experiment with their ideas, seek further advice, revisit the library, and take more thorough action toward those few, specific goals.

After they complete that next draft or assignment, a student will still have other problems in their work. Sure, but if they sincerely worked along your proposed improvements, they have advanced as learners and creators, rather than just got another assignment out of the way.

Efficient Feedback

It is possible for faculty to spend too much of their time grading or providing feedback. If the above is true it becomes counterproductive to pile on with commentary when grading.

By choosing a few action items for each student, you avoid spending time itemizing and commenting on every issue in every student paper, or fall short of that through predictable exhaustion. Plus, if you are asking students to revise a draft or complete a series of similar assignments, you can revisit what directions you gave to each student, when next you assess their work.

Growth as a Course Feature

If the above makes sense to you, then you might consider adopting a multi-stage development assignment, or a series of smaller, similar assignments in your course. Designed to teach as well as assess a set of research, analysis, writing or creative skills, such assignments can help your students systematically learn better scholarship and composition as well as help you understand how students learn, and where they typically suffer setbacks or snags. As students overcome one challenge, you can pose others to them in subsequent assignments, and by the end of the semester they should be demonstrably better at whatever is described in your learning goals and objectives for the course.

Focused, action-item feedback can help students focus on improving their skills and abilities, while saving you time (and aggravation!) as you teach.

D2L Fall/Winter Updates

Discussions: Simplified Accessibility & Visibility Management

When: December

Some of the options in D2L Discussion’s Restriction Tab will have updated language and options moved to make it easier to manage restriction, visibility, and access to Discussion boards:

  • Locking Options are being updated so that you only need to set the Start and End date, with Visibility and Accessibility options underneath each
  • The language for Locking Options have been updated to be a bit clearer/simpler:
Availability Start Date Option What it does
Visibile with Access Restricted before start The Discussion topic (or forum) is visible but students will not be able to open it until the start date. Name, date, other restrictions will be visible, but the description will not be.
Visible with submission restricted before start The topic (or forum) will be visible and accessible to students. However, they will not be able to post to it, making it read-only until the start date.
Hidden before start The topic (or forum) is cannot be seen and is not accessible by students until the start date. Notifications will not be sent until the start date.
Availability End Date Option What it does
Visibile with Access Restricted after end The Discussion topic (or forum) is visible but students will not be able to open it after the end date.
Visible with submission restricted after end The topic (or forum) will be visible and accessible to students (they will be able to see posts). However, they will not be able to post to it, making it read-only after the end date.
Hidden after end The topic (or forum) is cannot be seen and is not accessible by students after the end date. Notifications will also stop.

Examples of option selections and how they affect the forum/topic:

The Default is Visible with access restricted before the start (Unlock) and Visible with access restricted after end (Lock):

  • Students cannot see anything beyond the Topic or Forum Title, dates, and other restrictions. For topics specifically, students can see topic stats and who posted last. For forums, students will not be able to see titles of topics.

Visible with submission restricted before start (Unlock) and Visible with submission restricted after end (Lock) (Recommended):

  • Students can see everything above, topic/forum descriptions and details, and also their posts. They will just be unable to post to or participate in topics or forums.

Hidden before start and Hidden after end:

  • The topic (or forum) will only be accessible to students for the dates specified. After that, students will no longer be able to see the topic or forum– it will be made invisible to them.

Visible with access restricted before the start and Visible with submission restricted after end:

  • Students will only be able to see the title of the Forum (and titles of the topics within) or Topic and the associated dates and other restrictions, but not the description. After the end date, they will be able to see everything about the topic (or in the forum) but will not be able to particpate in them or post to them.

For more information, please click this link.

File Upload Warning Messages

When: November

This is mostly for students, but if you ever saw an “Invalid File Type Error”, a new message will now be appearing that provides more information on the issue:

“This file extension is not allowed for security reasons. Please see our Restricted File Extensions article in the D2L Community for more detailed information.”

For Dropbox Assignments, if a student goes to upload a file that you restricted, they will get a message stating “This file extension is not allowed”.

Quizzes: Clearer Wording

When: December

D2L will be updating some of the wording in the Quiz Editor to make it more clear as to what each option does:

Old Wording New Wording
Automatic Grade Automatically Publish Evaluation
Allow attempt to be set as graded immediately after completion Auto-publish attempt results immediately upon completion
Auto-Export to Grades Synchronize to Gradebook
Allow automatic export to grades Sync to Gradebook on publish

Dropboxes: New Editor Made Default

When: December

The new Dropbox Editor, which we reported on in December 2020, will be on by default. This means that you will NOT be able to use the old editor and the new editor will be the only one available to you.

Document Viewer: Toolbar Location Change & Other Changes

When: November & December

There will be two changes happening to the toolbar for the D2L Document Viewer. The first, a minor one, will be moving the tools from the bottom of the page to the top of the page. The iconography will also be updated.

The second change will occur in December. This will streamline these tools further and make them more accessible for users. Certain toolbar tools, like View as Text and Download, will only appear on certain file types, like PowerPoints or Word Docs. PDF’s can only be downloaded by using the download button located near the bottom of the page.

For more information, please view click here or sign-up for the D2L Updates & Changes Workshop here.

If you have any questions about these updates, please contact COLI via the ITS Helpdesk ( or