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#11-Using Reviewing Toolbar in Microsoft Word

August 07, 2002


Students often receive feedback from their instructors on papers, exams, or other assignments in a form that they either can’t read or can’t understand. We’ve all found ourselves writing less and less as we work our way through an endless stack of student papers.


Thomas C. Laughner
Notre Dame University

all LTAs by this author…

Chickering and Gamson list feedback as one of the seven effective strategies for student learning. However, our time constraints are a constant source of conflict in providing that valuable source of input to our students.

Several years ago, I started using Microsoft Word as a feedback mechanism for student work (WordPerfect has similar capabilities). The Reviewing toolbar (available from Toolbars under the View menu) provides several features to ease the process of evaluating student work.

One of the options is the comment feature. Highlighting the relevant text and clicking the comment button allows you to attach your feedback to specific text. When the student opens the document, the commented text will be highlighted. The student only has to move the cursor over the text to view a popup window with your feedback.

If you find yourself making the same suggestions on multiple assignments, you can create a separate document with common comments and use cut and paste to move them to the student?s paper.

Another option is the tracking feature. After clicking the tracking button, any changes you make to the student’s paper are noted by striking out the old text rather than replacing it, or by putting new text in bold. When the student moves the cursor over the text, there’s an indication that you made the suggestion. The student then has the option of accepting or rejecting your suggested change.

The reviewing toolbar is available on versions as old as Word 97 on Windows and Word 98 on Macintosh. The documents are cross-platform, but not cross-product (you can’t send a Word file with comments to someone using WordPerfect, but someone using Word on the Mac can send a document with comments to someone using Word on a PC).



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