Mail Merge for Mathematicians (and anyone else)

The newest incarnation of MyLabsPlus does not contain a seamless way of giving students feedback on offline assignments. In my case, my students complete weekly technology assignments and project write ups that might require some personalized feedback. Sending each student an individual email would take a lot of time. However, sending a somewhat standard email with a few personalized comments may be done using mail merge in Microsoft Office.

This document shows how I used Word to email my students feedback on the projects they turned in. I downloaded the student’s names and email addresses from MyMathLab and saved them as an Excel file. Then I added columns headings for the information I wanted to record as I graded the projects. I am able to enter scores and comments in the Excel file. You could also download MyMathLab homework and quiz information into the Excel file and include it in the email.

Once the Excel file includes the student scores, I use the mail merge feature in Word to create the email. The email is sent through Outlook to the email addresses in the Excel worksheet. You must make sure Outlook uses the email account you want to send from. This is done by setting the email address as the default account in Outlook.

The PDF file above demonstrates how to do this using Office 2010. Although I have not tried it using earlier versions of Office, I anticipate the process being very similar.

Using these techniques, I am able to send students regular feedback on their assignments, projects, and overall progress. Students appreciate the regular contact with me since the don’t feel like they are on their own in my online classes. Give it try. Tell me what you think!