Share feedback with students while complying with FERPA

February 11, 2014

Students are more likely to improve their work when they receive frequent, diagnostic feedback from their instructors. Federal regulations govern and restrict the way we share information about students and their academic records and present challenges for how and to whom instructors release information about students.

The most common challenge instructors face concerns how we can return graded material (exams and papers) to students quickly. Never leave graded exams and papers in a public location for students to pick up or post grades with names or any part of student ID numbers in a public location.

The eLearning system is an ideal tool for informing students of grades and providing feedback about their work. The system is convenient: students can access eLearning system at any time and from a computer at any location. The eLearning system is password-protected; when students log onto eLearning and view materials for your course, they see only their own grades in the grade book and comments on the work they submit to the drop box. The drop box has a second advantage: You no longer have to worry about losing track of a paper a student submits as an email attachment in your email queue. The submissions get stored in an organized way in eLearning, including a date stamp for when the student submitted the work.

If you use eLearning for no other aspects of course management, use eLearning to quickly share information with students about their academic performance. Post grades for exams and other assignments in the eLearning grade book. Use the drop box for secure submission of papers, student-created Power Point presentations, and other electronic documents. Similarly, instructors can leave comments on written work in the dropbox feedback section and/or post a marked-up electronic copy of a paper submitted through the drop box.

Instructors should take care to protect personal information (student ID numbers) in class. If you circulate an attendance sheet in class, the sheet should list only student names. Do not include other personal identifiers.

For additional details about FERPA compliance, see the CUTLA resource page, Understanding FERPA. The Office of the Registrar created an on-demand online course summarizing the key points of FERPA and providing information needed to comply with access to student information. All faculty who will access student data in Banner must complete this course (FERP01 - FERPA Training for UWF Employees). Sign up for the course through the Nautical Reservation Desk or contact the Office of Human Resources (x. 2694) to enroll.

Update: 04/17/14 tjf