A study which made me smile was one from RMIT University on how emoticons could help you better connect online with students (Moffitt, Padgett & Grieve, 2020). The researchers provided of 241 undergraduate students with a typical student submission and feedback. Some students got emoticons along with text. Happy emoticons ☺ gave a warm feeling, which is not surprising. What was surprising is that they also made the marker appear more competent. This may appear trivial, but students are people and people are more disposed to accept feedback from those they feel are competent and care. When you are remote from your students, as with online learning due to COVID-19, it can be difficult maintain an emotional connection to students.
Moffitt, R. L., Padgett, C., & Grieve, R. (2020). Accessibility and emotionality of online assessment feedback: Using emoticons to enhance student perceptions of marker competence and warmth. Computers & Education, 143, 103654. URL https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2019.103654