Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Anne Walker


This study investigated university instructors’ perspectives, values and processes of giving assignment feedback to students using written, audio and video formats and examined samples of feedback in these formats for differences in amount of content, language complexity and tone of feedback. The instructors represented different campus disciplines and a variety of campus, online and hybrid environments, and their classes included undergraduate and graduate students and ranged from small to large class sizes. This qualitative study applied Media Naturalness Theory to a phenomenological and discourse analysis of instructor interviews and feedback samples. The interview data revealed intentionality in selecting different feedback formats and three major factors affecting instructors’ choices of feedback formats: 1) educational purpose of the feedback, 2) the interpersonal relationship between instructor and students, and 3) efficiency of time and effort. Differentiation within these themes also impacted the choice of feedback formats. Instructors usually chose to use written or audio formats on minor assignment types such as discussion postings or short papers, while using combinations of audio and video narrations with written comments for major assignments. Most instructors appreciated the options that technology provided for them when giving feedback to students, but they also noted challenges in using different feedback formats. Feedback samples from instructors were analyzed for tone, language complexity and amount of content in the different types of feedback formats. The number of words in different feedback formats varied considerably, as did the tone and language complexity. The more expansive formats of audio and video presented the most information with regard to word counts, tone and complexity. The feedback samples were also reviewed to discern how closely instructors’ actual practice matched their perceptions and values of the different feedback formats. Findings have implications for instructors’ practices when giving feedback and further research regarding audio and video technologies for feedback, and formative and summative feedback effects.