Teacher Tech blog with Alice Keeler

Paperless Is Not a Pedagogy

Alice Keeler

Google Classroom: Return Student Work

Return Student work in google classroom
Google Classroom: Return Student Work

Return Student work in google classroom

Return Student Work in Google Classroom

A new feature in Google Classroom is to show the count of returned student work. YAY! This was on my Android Classroom app for awhile and I’m so happy to see it now on the browser version.
Return Student Work

How to Return

Click on the assignment title to view the assessment screen. On the left hand side is a roster of your students. By default the students are sorted by status. Click on the checkbox next to “Done” to select that group of students. Then click on the RETURN button at the top.
Click on Done and click on Return

Why Return

Returning student work acknowledges that they submitted the assignment. It also allows you to leave each student a thank you note.


One thing I strongly dislike about Google Classroom is that it switches ownership of student documents when they turn in work. We are not trying to recreate paper, we are trying to create new opportunities for learning. Switching ownership is old school paper thinking.

When students turn in work they become VIEWERS OF THEIR OWN WORK. The teacher is made the OWNER of the STUDENT’S work. Personally, I find this offensive. Students are the owners of their work. We assess THEIR work but it is THEIR’s.


When a student is a viewer of their work they are unable to see any feedback comments left in the document. This makes learning worse. We know that fast high quality feedback improves learning. Even better is when we can get that feedback to students before the due date. [tweet]The impact of your feedback is highest when students are not mentally done with a task.[/tweet] You must Return the work to the student in order for them to regain ownership of the document and be able to see the comments.

Feedback Loop

If we want to make learning better we need to move past: Do the assignment, get points, do another assignment. Students need to be able to respond to feedback. To improve learning we want to allow students to attempt, get feedback, and attempt again. This feedback look was challenging to impossible with paper. Using digital documents we can truly come alongside students to engage in this feedback look to improve learning.

[tweet]Our job is not to distribute points; it is to help students learn.[/tweet]

Google Apps documents allows for that feedback loop to be feasible. This is how Google Docs makes learning better than paper.

Since students turning in work shuts down that feedback loop, it is imperative that we be rabid about quickly returning work to students.

Return Return Return

This new feature to show the number of returned documents makes it easier for me to make sure I return quickly! I like to return almost as soon as a student submits. My feedback comment… “Returning editing rights.”
Returning Editing Rights

Clean Up Your Google Drive

Personally I find it frustrating that when Google Classroom switches ownership to me as the teacher that now I have a bunch of documents in Google Drive that says I am the owner when it is really student work with the same title. Returning work to students solves this.


6 thoughts on “Google Classroom: Return Student Work

  1. Still wondering how to do a mid point check in before students turn in. Would you ask students to share file with you so you can see their work as it happens?

  2. Thank you for so clearly explaining this piece of Google Classroom. I can’t wait to share with teachers as we closeout our Google Classrooms for the year.

  3. I have never really used this feature, but after your post I understand how helpful it can be. I just used it on my last assignment, and I noticed a much faster turn-around for students incorporating my feedback. Thank you!

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