Inclusive Feedback for Equitable Disciplinary Learning: Balancing Student Needs and Teaching-Intensive Online Workloads

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Brief Abstract

This session offers strategies for providing inclusive feedback that strengthens students’ disciplinary literacy development while also helping instructors manage a teaching-intensive workload. Participants will learn about meaningful and equitable feedback practices for supporting diverse learners who are inexperienced in online learning.

Extended Abstract


Feedback is a key teaching practice in any online course, but responsive, individualized feedback is especially important at two-year colleges and other open-admissions online programs that serve students from a diverse range of educational, linguistic, cultural, and social backgrounds. Open-access institutions serve many students whose prior educational experiences have not prepared them for online learning. Integrating multiple and varied opportunities for feedback into the design of online courses helps students both transition to online learning and develop the literacy skills and strategies required for college success in a field of study. Effective and inclusive feedback is mutually beneficial for instructors and their students. Adapting targeted feedback practices to students’ individual needs not only strengthens student learning and increases understanding of disciplinary processes, but it also helps instructors identify and address barriers to course completion and academic success. 

This proposed interactive presentation will provide attendees with practical strategies for supporting online students’ disciplinary literacy development through inclusive feedback that also helps instructors manage a teaching-intensive online workload. The session will help instructors provide meaningful yet efficient feedback to diverse learners, especially those who have faced structural inequities in their prior educational experiences and/or who are inexperienced in online learning. 

The presentation will draw from recommendations in Two-Year College English Association working papers and a white paper on workload management strategies based on a national survey of more than 1000 two-year college English instructors and a follow-up survey about pandemic teaching. The presenters will also build on their own research, teaching, and program administration experiences in open-access online writing programs. 



The presenters will offer feedback strategies that can help any instructor balance students’ needs for regular, meaningful feedback with a hectic and sometimes overwhelming online teaching workload. The session will be especially relevant to instructors who teach students from diverse educational, cultural, social, and linguistic backgrounds at community colleges and open-access institutions, especially online learners who would be excluded from higher education at institutions with admissions standards. 


Session Outline

  1. The session will begin with a brief definition of disciplinary literacy. The presenters will provide an overview of the relationship between individualized feedback and students’ development as online learners in a field of study. Participants will identify key disciplinary literacy strategies that are essential for online learning in their own fields of study. 

  2. The presenters will explain and illustrate four qualities of online feedback that support students’ transitions to online learning in a discipline: equitable, effective, meaningful, and efficient. They will discuss why these types of feedback are essential for managing a teaching-intensive online workload while also supporting students with limited or no experience with the literacy strategies required for college-level online learning. Participants will briefly self-assess how they are using each type of feedback in their own courses to support inclusive teaching and disciplinary learning. 

  3. The presenters will then present and discuss a framework for providing students with inclusive, individualized feedback to support online learning and disciplinary literacy development. The presentation will take participants through the process of integrating multiple but manageable types of feedback into a multi-stage project, unit, or entire course. Participants will learn how to prioritize both the types of feedback and the timing of feedback to support students’ success in online courses. Participants will receive a handout that will help them adapt the presenters’ framework to their own disciplines and teaching contexts. Participants will begin to identify inclusive feedback priorities in one or more online courses that they teach. 

  4. The presenters will discuss strategies for providing inclusive online feedback that  balances complex student needs with a teaching-intensive workload, using student reflections and feedback management strategies. Participants will identify one or more action steps that they will take after the conference to manage their feedback workloads while also providing inclusive feedback that supports disciplinary online learning. 

  5. The session will end with an opportunity for participants to share their action steps and discuss issues or questions that arise during the presentation or from participants’ reflective work. 

Participant Engagement

Throughout the presentation, attendees will receive reflective questions that will help them make connections between concepts from the presentation and their own teaching contexts, including their disciplines, pedagogical strategies, local student communities, and institutional contexts. Each section of the presentation will include an opportunity for participants to share their ideas through one or more interactive activities using polling, google jamboard, and Zoom chat. 


Learning Goals and Takeaways

Attendees will learn how to identify priorities for disciplinary online learning; match feedback with disciplinary learning goals and students’ individualized literacy needs; cut back on unnecessary, unproductive, and inequitable feedback; and provide students with targeted feedback aimed at recursive online learning. After participating in the session, attendees will come away with strategies for managing feedback at various stages of a project and across entire course by prioritizing both the types of feedback and the timing of feedback to support students’ development as online learners.