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Cheryl Keen


Misalignment between student preferences and instructor assumptions regarding feedback may impede student learning. Researchers have investigated postsecondary students' preferences for types of instructor feedback including written, audio, and video. However, postsecondary online students' preferences have not been explored in a large-sample study. This sequential explanatory mixed-methods study was conducted to describe postsecondary online students' preferences and the reasons for those preferences. Vygotsky's social-constructivist theory was used to frame instructor feedback as a scaffolding tool to promote self-regulation in student writing. A survey containing quantitative and qualitative questions was used to collect 93 responses from undergraduate and graduate students attending a large private online university; data collection also included interviews with a subsample of 4 volunteer participants who were selected using maximum variation sampling according to their degree program. Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive frequencies; qualitative data were analyzed for emerging themes. Findings indicated that students preferred proximal, detailed, supportive feedback. Students' preferences were based on the desire to enhance their writing skills and understand point deductions assessed by instructors. Implications for social change include increasing instructor awareness of students' preferences and enhancing collaboration in the feedback process to promote writing skill development and improve academic outcomes among postsecondary students, especially those matriculated in online programs.

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