Wanda Raiford, J.D., Ph.D., University of Iowa alumna


Explains how the use of audio or video recordings turn grading papers into an invigorating conversation with students. 


  • Improves student response to feedback
  • Makes grading more efficient
  • Improves instructor-student relationship


Wanda Raiford explains how she easily provides the same sense of individual coaching for every person in her class by grading with digitally-recorded comments. By allowing students to hear the tone of her voice, she is able to cultivate a working dynamic based on respect and acceptances.


Wanda Raiford, JD, PhD

Universityvof Iowa Alumna


Explains how the use of audio or video recordings turn grading papers into an invigorating conversation with students.


0:00 – 0:05

Teaching is a contact sport, you know, you're going to be touched and other people are going to touch you.

0:05 – 0:33

My students weren't really able to hear me when I told them what kinds of things they might do differently on the next paper. And you might have had this in your own undergraduate experience where somebody will write “awkward” or just “awk” next to a sentence and you think, “well gee, I'm not even sure what to do with that.” Right? And so what I decided to do, I first tried to get the students to meet with me and some people came and some people preferred not to come.

0:33 – 0:43

And so then I devised a way where we were definitely going to be in conversation, even if the conversation with initiated simply by my voice talking in their ear:

0:43 – 1:14

“Hi Tyler. This is Wanda. So, Tyler I've read your paper now three times. The first time I just read through to see what you had to say. And the second time I was holding a pencil, you can see that. And that’s all those little marks there. Everybody’s paper has a lot of marks on it, nothing to get wigged out about. And the third time I read it was just now in order to prepare this audio commentary. So let's get started, and hold in front of you while I'm talking. I’m gonna talk for about five minutes and I want us to stay on the same page so when I say turn to page two and look at the first full paragraph, you and I are looking at the same thing at the same time.

1:14 – 1:39

And so then I go on like that, and usually for the first paper only, I let people know the format, which is that I'm going to begin by telling the student in my opinion, my professional opinion, what their strengths are as a writer and what went right with the paper. And that I find makes people a lot less anxious and a lot more porous and able to listen to the part where I say here are some things you might do differently next time.

1:39 – 2:09

Some of the things I have to say especially in that second half, can be really direct, and they're the kind of things that I want people to hear in my voice, that I like them, and I respect them. I might say “you are very good with the incorporation of quotes and support of your arguments Anna.” And then I would say, “This paper doesn't seem organized, and the disorganization of the paper robs your fine ideas of some of their punch.”

2:09 – 2:44

I really don't think it was much more time consuming than writing out the comments longhand, and wondering if anyone understood what I meant by “A W K dot.” They want to do a careful job on the work, because they have a sense that I've read every word and thought about what they were trying to say. And so if they were only trying to play a game where I thought they'd worked hard but they'd really written it in two hours. They don't want to play that game anymore because they're having a conversation with an interested and concerned adult who really wants to know what they think about things.

2:44 – 3:00

I would say to people who are thinking about doing this technique, “go ahead and record one.” Everything that’s valuable doesn't feel like work. And so if it feels fun, and you think it would be of value to your students that’s something to do, that’s something to pursue. That's why I'm doing it.