Educational Development Digest: February 2021

Pedagogy and Practice

Not all feedback is equally valuable

By Catherine Ford, Program Director for Educational Development

Educators need to know that some feedback has the potential to make students feel overwhelmed and anxious by its quantity and ambiguity. Some students may altogether dismiss these provided comments as simply not helpful. Additionally, this unwise feedback can be unintentionally filled with bias, a deficit mindset, and vagueness contributing to a perceived lack of value and resulting lack of improved learning.  

As Zaretta Hammond in Culturally Responsive Teaching & the Brain (2015) identifies, the power of feedback is in its ability to improve learning if, in fact, this is what the feedback initiates. She uses an effective sports coaching metaphor to illustrate corrective feedback (p. 102-3). If a basketball player is practicing shooting, the coach telling them their form is weak may not lead to any meaningful change. [This makes me think of a comment on a paper that an argument is weak.] What does weak mean? What should be corrected? In contrast, if the coach provides actionable instruction such as tuck in your elbow and extend through the hand on the release, then the player has concrete direction for an improved next attempt. The latter is feedback that leads to improved learning. Hammond (2015) also states that this “feedback is an essential element in the culturally responsive teacher’s arsenal” (p. 101). The assumption is that this particular, powerful feedback is wise. 

Wise is not a catchy acronym. According to Cohen and Steele (2002), “Wise strategies are those that assure stigmatized students that they will not be judged or treated stereotypically â€“ that their abilities and belonging are assumed rather than doubted” (p. 309). In attempt to actionize wise feedback, Hammond (2015) suggests adding these specific elements:

  • clear articulation of high standards
  • assurance that the student is capable, has potential, and can improve with effort and
  • specific, actionable steps (p. 105). 

Many of us have learned the sandwich approach to feedback (negative/hard feedback between 2 pieces of positive feedback). Wise feedback is different and more effective in combating stereotype threat (Cohen & Steele, 2002; Hammond, 2015), and I encourage everyone to give it a try if this is a new tool in your toolbox.  

Perhaps these two feedback approaches can be combined if wise feedback at a critical place of integration is applied to the negative or hard feedback that is sandwiched in the middle. Furthermore, educators need to “explicitly assure students of their capacity to meet those standards through great effort” (Cohen & Steele, 2002, p. 309) and be honest about the gap between current and desired performance (Hammond, 2015).  

Here is feedback for you: 

Grading and providing quality, inclusive, wise feedback takes intentionality and can require an increased demand on your time. This may be challenging or be deterred by time constraints, but as you practice applying this strategy, it will get easier and more embedded into current feedback practices. Stick with it! As you write your next set of comments on a student assessment (project, paper, exam), identify the 3 components found in wise feedback with a focus on providing specific, actionable steps for improvement. 

Continue the conversation: Share out about how you’ve intentionally applied wise feedback in the NED Chat, using Microsoft Teams. (StarID required).


Cohen, G. L., & Steele, C. M. (2002). A barrier of mistrust: How negative stereotypes affect cross-race mentoring. In Improving academic achievement (pp. 303-327). Academic press. 

Hammond, S. (2015). Culturally responsive teaching & the brain: Promoting authentic engagement and rigor among culturally and linguistically diverse students. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin. 

NED Event Highlight

Join the Equity 2030 Webinar Series 

The challenges of convening groups for presentations or discussions during the COVID-19 pandemic have meant that opportunities to communicate about Equity 2030 have been more limited than they would have been otherwise. To provide more information about Equity 2030 across Minnesota State, the foundational work of the Chancellor’s Equity 2030 Fellows, and the priorities for Equity 2030, a webinar series will be offered throughout the 2020-21 academic year. View the flyer and register!


Academic Technology Tips

Zoom Now Has Live Auto Transcriptions for Minnesota State Users!

By Brock Behling, Program Director for Instructional Technology

This real-time text alternative is helping move toward our equity and accessibility goals as we continuously strive to incorporate elements of universal design for learning across the Minnesota State. This framework is an effort to design curriculum that serves all learners, regardless of ability or background.  

Enabling the live transcript feature in your Zoom sessions will enhance the learning experience for individuals by providing students with multiple modalities to access the content.    

Enabling live transcription in full-screen mode
Enabling live transcription in compact view
Click Enable Auto-Transcription for machine generated content

Captions can assist

  • Deaf or hard of hearing participants 
  • Individuals with learning disabilities 
  • English language learners 
  • Situations where someone is unable to enable sound  

This machine generated option is not a solution or a replacement for any existing accommodation requests that require professional service intervention, but it can be used as a proactive measure to help with general accessibility.   

This feature indexes the spoken content in any session for quick navigation and has search features that allow learners to review key concepts when they want, benefiting all learners.  

The live transcript can be also be used as a guide to refocus attention.  This additional opportunity can help with engagement from participants who may need to temporarily go back to catch up, and then when they are ready and better prepared, they can participate in a more comfortable conversation at their own pace.   

Once enabled in the session by the host, individuals have the option to display the captions if they choose, as a full interactive transcript or as subtitles.  They also have the option to move the subtitles by dragging and dropping them or they can adjust the display settings to avoid overlap of content or potential eyestrain depending on their devices resolution.  

Learn more about universal design for learning and academic technology accessibility options in the NED Resource Site! 

Find more Zoom resources on the Campus Academic Technology Zoom page.


Initiatives Update

Register Now for Teach Together Minnesota!

Join educators from across the state in this virtual event on May 18, 2021 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:45 p.m.  

Teach Together Minnesota! will focus on culturally responsive online teaching and learning, and will provide opportunities to:  

  • Join breakout sessions based on discipline. Each discipline community will be able to share and receive files, keep a collective notebook, and use a chat feature for immediate and ongoing communication among attendees.  
  • Hear student voices during a student panel session over the lunch hour.  
  • Join lightning sessions and webinars about innovating through COVID with an equity lens.  


  • Minnesota State faculty 
  • Higher education faculty across Minnesota  
  • K-12 educators from across Minnesota  
  • Education Supporters (CTL Directors, Instructional Designers, IT Support, Librarians)  
  • CTE faculty 
  • Concurrent enrollment instructors  

Share Your Voice

Seeking Content Experts for Equity and Inclusion Short Courses 

Minnesota State is planning three new short courses focused on equity and inclusion that will be available through the Network for Educational Development.  The NED equity and inclusion coordinators have outlined the aims for each of these courses and are now looking for content experts to collaborate on the development of two of these opportunities.  So that we can begin this work as soon as possible, please share your interest and/or learn more by completing this form by Monday, February 15. 

(1) Equity and Technology

This 3-week short course should discuss the potential obstacles that technology and technological tools create for equitable outcomes for students. The course should also highlight the opportunities technology creates to increase equity and inclusion.

  • How can we design our online, hybrid, blended, and hyflex courses with equity in mind? 
  • How do we intentionally create relationships with our students?
  • What can we put in place to help the students navigate all of the different technological requirements of the classroom?
  • How can we be equity-minded in online environments?
  • What extra factors do I need to be aware of in an online class environment?

(2) Anti-racist Pedagogy

This 3-week short course should discuss how racialization affects both teaching practices and student outcomes. It should also help move participants forward by giving guidance for changing our practices, showing how that can improve student outcomes. How do we change our systems, including the policies and practices in our classrooms and institutions, to create equity?

  • What is Anti-Racist pedagogy, and why is it so important? What makes it different from Culturally Responsive Pedagogy?
  • How do we help faculty develop a better understanding of how to apply Anti-Racist pedagogy to their classes, across their curriculum in their department, across a college, and in advising?
  • How can we create effective, campus-specific action plans that employ Anti-Racist strategies and practices?

Upcoming Events

Visit the NED Events Calendar to search for upcoming webinars, learning communities, short courses, and long courses.

Spring 2021 Webinar Flyer
Spring 2021 Short Course, Long Course, and Learning Communities

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