Student and Faculty Perceptions on Feedback in a Graduate Social Work Distance Education Program
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Online social work educators are responsible for fostering high quality academic growth experiences for their students. Feedback instructors provide to students aims to further this goal. The purpose of this study is to understand how social work instructors and students in an entirely online MSW program value instructional feedback. Open-ended survey questions were used to gather instructor and student perspectives. Qualitative analyses revealed similar themes. Faculty felt the main purpose of feedback was to facilitate learning, improve effectiveness of learning, enhance student social work capability, and foster engagement and connection. MSW students felt the main importance of feedback was that it fostered student development, assessed student progress, facilitated interaction and communication with instructor, and clarified misunderstanding. Contrary to the traditional role of feedback in on-the-ground programs, both MSW faculty and students felt that feedback in the online modality not only increased content comprehension but also influenced the student and instructor relationship. This study highlights the need to train faculty to deliver feedback that is consonant with distance education students' desire to experience connection and support as a part of their online education.