Picture of two students looking at a computer screen. Picture of a professor with a computer teaching a small group of students. Picture of a student working at a laptop.

Assessment Strategies: Providing Formative Feedback on Written Drafts


One of the principles of Universal Design for Instruction is Tolerance for Error based on the assumption that there is variation in individual student learning pace and prerequisite skills. All human efforts can be subject to error. By using errors as a mechanism for learning, higher education instructors can help students realize the realities of the research, development, and publication processes.

An effective strategy for anticipating errors and monitoring student progress in learning from these is the submission of multiple drafts of a student’s written work. These drafts can be submitted to the instructor for feedback, to an institution’s writing center for assistance in editing, and/or to class peers for their input. In the case of peer review, students can be graded on the quality of feedback they provide to other students. Students can submit drafts of their work either as paper copies or online.


Please click below for an audio of the introduction to Providing Feedback on Multiple Drafts using Tracking Feature.


Instructions on How to Track Changes

To assess the use of feedback and to ensure that substantial improvements are made between drafts, use the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Word. To review a document and provide feedback, go to Tools>Track Changes (see Figure 1). Any edits and comments made by the reviewer will be saved to the document electronically (see Figures 2 and 3). These comments and edits can be printed. A final draft of the document (without comments and edits) can be printed by going to File>Print. In the Print What drop down menu, select “Document” instead of “Document showing markup.”

Figure 1 - Image depicting how to turn on the Track Changes feature in Microsoft Word.

Figure 2 - Image depicting unedited text. The text says, "This is an example."

Figure 3 - Image illustrating how to add a comment, an example of a comment, and an example of how edited text looks compared to Figure 2. The comment says, "Comments allow people to leave qualitative feedback on drafts.” The edited text is now red and underlined and says, "This example illustrates the usefulness of track changes” instead of "This is an example (from Figure 2)."

Figure 4- Image illustrating how to print the document without markup in Windows.

Technical Requirements and Where to Access MS Word

MS Word (MS Office 2008 for Mac and MS Office Pro 2007) Technical Requirements:

Mac Requirements:

  • Intel, PowerPC G5 or PowerPC G4 (500 MHz or faster) processor
  • Mac OS X 10.4.9 or later
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 1.5 GB hard drive

Windows Requirements:

  • 500 MHz processor speed or higher
  • Windows XP SP 2, Server 2003 SP1 or later
  • 256 MB RAM
  • 2 GB hard drive

Go to http://us20.trymicrosoftoffice.com/product.aspx?re_ms=oo&family=officepr... to download a 60 day free trial of MS Office Pro 2007;


Go to http://www.microsoft.com/mac/products/Office2008/trial-download.mspx to download a 30 day free trial for MS Office 2008 for Mac.


Every e-Tool in the e-Toolbox was reviewed by either a UDI Online Project research and design team member, or one or several faculty at five partner institutions who incorporated a specific e-Tool into an online or blended course they taught. Faculty from these partner institutions also requested that students review the e-Tool included in a course or products created through the use of the e-Tool (e.g., documents, videos, audio clips, or other items). Likert scale surveys with open-ended questions were used by respondents.  Feedback from the reviewing UDI Online team member or faculty who used a tool is presented in addition to student ratings when available. 


e-Tool Review Results

Faculty e-Tool Review Results
Number of faculty reviewers: 1

The one reviewer of this e-tool strongly agreed with the statement that the e-tool was easy to incorporate into her course. The professor used the e-tool to reduce the physical demands placed on learners allowing maximum attention to learning, to facilitate communication with and between students, and to show students areas of improvement. She agreed that this e-tool exemplified the Principles of Universal Design for Instruction within her course. The instructor commented that the benefit of this e-tool was that “In an online writing course, I do not have the luxury of physically correcting student papers online. This allows me to still comment in the way I would on paper, but in a much neater and easier to read fashion.” She also commented that a drawback of using this e-tool was that there were “Problems converting between versions of MS Word; if students do not have Word, I cannot use the tool.” She would use the e-tool in another course to allow her students to demonstrate understanding or mastery of content, to facilitate communication with and between students, and for the revision process. The reviewer did not use the instructional guide for this e-tool.