Marking student assignments can be a daunting task, particularly when dealing with a large number of assessments to grade. It can be time-consuming, and repetitive, and often, it may feel like you’re not able to give each assignment the attention it deserves. Fortunately, with the advancements in technology, there are tools available that can help make the process of marking assignments more efficient, accurate, personalised for your students, and even more enjoyable for you. One such tool is ChatGPT. In this blog post, we’ll explore how ChatGPT can be used to generate feedback when marking student assignments.
In the process of evaluating student assignments, employing ChatGPT can greatly assist educators in generating diverse and personalised feedback.
If you’re unfamiliar with ChatGPT, my free online 30-minute instructional course on ‘ChatGPT for Educators‘ will get you up to speed.
Feedback building blocks
In the example I’m outlining below, the paragraph of feedback we’ll be generating consists of several elements:
- The opening sentence establishes the tone.
- The subsequent sentence states the intended value of the assignment for students.
- A third sentence clarifies how the student’s grade was determined.
- A fourth sentence encourages students to schedule a one-on-one Zoom session with me if they’re interested in improving their assessment skills to achieve higher grades.
- A final sentence, wrapping up the paragraph.
Let’s start with generating text for the first sentence.
Setting the tone
When students first dive into the feedback you provide, the initial sentence sets the tone.
Considering students frequently compare the feedback they receive, presenting each student with identical opening lines may appear somewhat thoughtless.
To ensure a distinct and engaging introduction for each assignment you’re grading, try using the following sample prompt with ChatGPT:
“Please produce a variety of opening sentences I can incorporate in my written feedback for student assignments, based on the phrase ‘Hi, thank you for submitting your assignment.'”
By leveraging ChatGPT, you’ll be able to create a more individualised experience for your students when marking their assignments.
This is the output I received from ChatGPT in response to my prompt:
Although some of the generated suggestions resemble my writing style, I usually avoid using exclamation marks and would never say ‘Good day!’.
To tailor the options to my preferences, I selected the suggestions that resonated with me and provided a follow-up prompt to ChatGPT for further refinement.
The refined suggestions look like this:
Aim to generate unique variations for your class size.
My class has 30 students, so I’m aiming for 30 responses from ChatGPT.
After creating 30 distinct opening lines, compile them in a spreadsheet for easy organisation.
The generated suggestions aren’t always perfect, but they do serve as a valuable foundation.
Stating the intended value of the assignment
In the example I’m documenting here, the assignment requires students to identify and discuss a ‘problem’ encountered by a specific customer group. The assignment’s goal was to prompt students to consider a ‘problem’ a certain customer group might face, allowing them to concentrate on designing ‘solutions’ to this problem in subsequent assignments – the rationale for the assignment is that students often propose solutions without fully comprehending the problems they address, so we wanted to them to develop a ‘problem mindset’.
In generating the sentences we want for this part of the feedback paragraph, we’re seeking text that emphasises the intended value of the assignment for students. We want ChatGPT to generate 30 distinct variations to incorporate into your spreadsheet.
As an illustration, I submitted the following prompt to ChatGPT:
“For this sentence, I want to generate unique variations of sentences (one sentence maximum length), while maintaining the meaning/intention of the text (i.e. very little variability in what you generate). The sentence should reiterate to students the value of doing the assessment, which was to help them focus on ‘problems’ rather than ‘solutions’ which is an important feature of design thinking and the process of designing business products and/or services that have greater potential to succeed in the market.“
ChatGPT produced responses according to the given instructions, yet there was potential for enhancement. Consequently, I executed another prompt as follows::
“These are great! But instead of talking directly to the student by saying ‘you’, can you replace this with ‘students’ so the text sounds like it’s talking about the whole class and not that student individually?“
I cut and pasted the re-generated responses into the spreadsheet, and then reviewed them to remove any I didn’t like.
Explaining how the grade was calculated
The third sentence sheds light on the student’s grade calculation process.
For the subsequent text segment, I aim to generate content informing students that the assignment’s marks were determined using the provided grading rubric. Additionally, I want to encourage students to consult the rubric for a more detailed analysis of their grade.
Here’s an example prompt used to generate this text:
“Great! I now need a sentence that lets students know that the marks for the assignment were calculated based on the attached marking rubric, and let students know that they can view this rubric for a finer-grained breakdown of the grade. Can you generate 30 suggestions for this sentence?”
Again, the output generated by ChatGPT is added to the spreadsheet.
Inviting students to seek a feedback consultation
The final text segment I wish to create is an offer for my students to reach out to me if they are interested in scheduling a consultation to delve deeper into the assignment.
Although it may appear that I’m inviting a substantial amount of extra work, I genuinely enjoy collaborating with students on an individual basis. Regrettably, only a few students ever accept the offer, but those who do seem to gain immense value from these sessions. I take pleasure in witnessing how they apply the feedback and incorporate it into their future assignments. This is one of the most gratifying aspects of my work as an educator, and I believe it’s a more impactful method of delivering feedback to students. Moreover, it eliminates the possibility of misinterpreting the intended message conveyed through written feedback.
Here’s the next prompt in my chat with ChatGPT to generate this invitation to students:
“Great! I now need a sentence that lets students know that I offer all students an opportunity to get highly personalised feedback through a Zoom consultation and that they can email me to arrange a consultation, and in the email, they should suggest three days and times that suit their schedule and that I’ll email them back a meeting request and zoom link.”
Wrapping up the feedback
The final addition to my feedback is a closing remark. Here’s a sample prompt to produce that text:
“Fantastic! I need one last sentence. The sentence should be very short. It is text to sign off the feedback, with something like ‘Hope you enjoyed the assignment, Thanks’”
Once the text is generated, include it in the spreadsheet.
Arrange the generated text segments logically so that they form a coherent paragraph when combined. This is the next step in crafting the initial paragraph for providing feedback to students.
It’s worth mentioning that while I advocate using ChatGPT to generate feedback, I don’t advocate simply copying and pasting the feedback as it was produced by ChatGPT. Rather, the generated feedback samples can act as a foundation, which I can then tailor for each student based on the quality of work submitted and the specific areas they need to concentrate on.
Before finishing, you might want to create a final column and add your name.
Bringing it all together
The final step involves combining all the text cells. Since I’m unsure about how to accomplish this, I will seek ChatGPT’s assistance in generating a formula that can be utilised in Excel.
Here’s my prompt to request ChatGPT to help me with this task:
“Hello, can you help me? I’m working with an excel spreadsheet and I have six columns of text data over 30 rows. I need to combine the text in the six cells for each row. Is there a way to do this?”
Success! However, there was no space between the sentences in each cell.
I requested ChatGPT’s assistance and received an improved formula:
Upon making a few last-minute adjustments to the text, I now have 30 rows of distinct feedback that I can use as a foundation for crafting feedback when grading assignments.
It’s probably time for me to begin the marking process. As with numerous educators, I’ve been procrastinating by engaging in other activities, such as composing this blog post for you!
In conclusion, utilising ChatGPT for generating personalised feedback on student assignments can be a valuable and efficient tool for educators. By crafting unique introductions, restating assignment objectives, clarifying the grading process, offering consultation opportunities, and providing tailored feedback, teachers can create a more meaningful experience for students. The process outlined in this blog post demonstrates how leveraging AI technology like ChatGPT, combined with spreadsheet management, can streamline the feedback process and make it more impactful. By integrating these steps into your grading routine, you’ll be well on your way to fostering greater student engagement and success.
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