Kaizena: Integrating Effective Writing Instruction Strategies

Developing effective written communication is an essential skill that we hone at Morningside College. Doing this requires work on both the part of the student and the instructor. Writing is a process that requires several steps even to just begin writing, and then when the writing is happening, several drafts are required. The importance of feedback is essential and there are good and bad ways of giving and managing feedback to students. In this post, I want to describe a free product – Kaizena – that integrates several best practices of writing development. Tone of feedback, access to relevant instruction, evaluation of progress, and identification of necessary skills are all vital to helping students develop their writing.


Some ways that we as instructors can help facilitate are by utilizing voice comments over written comments. This allows us to communicate tone of voice with comments that is often lost with written feedback. We also try to link specific instances of student writing errors to lessons. Finally, it is often helpful for students to receive a sense of their progress on specific skills as they go through the drafting process. Many of us try to do all of this, but it can be extremely time consuming to do so. Kaizena is a program developed to integrate all of these features of writing instruction into one easy system.


Kaizena works with Google Drive and allows instructors to give four different types of feedback to student work: voice feedback, written feedback, lessons, and skills. Voice and written feedback are pretty self explanatory and Kaizena makes creating both of these very easy. Lessons allow the instructor to link either written, voice, or linked lessons (like instructional videos) to specific areas of the student writing. Skills provide a rating system to specific skills demonstrated in the student writing.


Of course none of these approaches to writing instruction are new, but what Kaizena does is seamlessly integrate all of these important pedagogies into one easy to use system for both instructor and student. Feedback given by the instructor is given in real time to the student electronically so Kaizena can even be used during face-to-face or virtual writing conferences as a way to record the feedback given.


The other feature that Kaizena provides is a running ‘conversation’ between the student and instructor for the entire term. All feedback elements, student replies to all assignments are presented in a linear fashion allowing the student and instructor to see the progress made in the development of writing skill.


The link to the Kaizena Website is here: https://kaizena.com/

Here is a nice overview video of how Kaizena works: