I think it is very easy to just list the negatives, but I think it is important to also say what was done well or shows promise or else students are at risk of becoming demotivated. THey also need to know what they did well so they can keep doing it as well as what they did wrong so they can change or improve. Tone should also be careullly pitched to give the best chance of it comping over as intended.
I do think it is possible to write feedback in such as way as to have this balance, however there is also still a risk the student doesnt receive it as it was intended. As well as trying for balance I believe tutors shoudl try to keep communications open by variosu means so that things can be discussed over the longer term and follow ups are easy if the student is disappointed or not sure why ther got the mark they did.
There is always the risk also that students don't act on the feedback or don;t even read it at all which is certainly not unknown once a learner sees a score and may feel thats all they want to know.
Marking and feedback at a distance can lead to misunderstandings or an inability to get a particular point across the right way - think about the misunderstandings that can occur in emails or text messages in other areas of life! Thus, care needs to be taken.
Additionally, good feedback can only be given if the groundwork is put in place initially to understand the student, and how they work. If those foundations are not in place then it is difficult to feedback effectively.
Absolutely, there needs to be a mix of formal written feedback and informal conversation about the feedback. I agree that it's helpful to know the student, to better know where they might be coming from with their work.
I often find that students go directly to their mark and where they have lost lost marks. It is easy to discuss this face to face, but doing remotely has it's own specific problems. Tutors may not be available when the marks are released and some students might want to discuss them there and then. Feedback maybe misunderstood and email can often be slow.
Sometimes you may find you don't understand a piece of work and it may delay marking until you can discuss meaning with the student. Also, some marking and results might be down to how specific criteria have been met, rather than reflecting the quality of the work overall. It may be disheartening for a student to initially see marks online, without a supporting conversation.
Being a new tutor, I would be anxious about the differences in strong and weak students may make my feedback. I sometimes have just ticks in my answers and a summary feedback. But when I have had a bad answer, the tutor corrects it in different colour and explains where I am wrong. Then, I get advice on how to prevent these kind of mistakes.
I think communication is the key with marking distance learning. As an OU student myself, there have been occasions where I have wanted to ask questions about certain feedback I have been given, which is more difficult when you are not with your tutor in person. However, if channels for communication are kept open and the student is given an opportunity to discuss feedback if required, this would hopefully resolve that issue.