“Plan learning engagements with feedback in mind”
If feedback is to be affective and meaningful for children in your classroom it must:
- be explicitly related to your learning goals
- must inform the student of their current progress towards that goal
- must give guidance and strategies on how to move forward to achieve that goal
- be given while the children are engaged in the learning engagement (I like to review and
reinforce this feedback to the group after the lesson also).
- reflect both the learning intention and success criteria
W.A.L.T (What I am leaning to do)
W.I.L.F (what I am looking for)
Types of Feedback
Pat Tunstall and Caroline Gipps identified two different types of feedback. Reflect on the type of feedback you give and what type of feedback you have observed in other classrooms). They found that the majority of teachers gave evaluative feedback in the classroom.
Evaluative Feedback: Involves judging the child without any reference to learning goals “great job’, ‘well done”, “have a sticker”, ‘you can do better’. I think we are all guilty of this type of feedback from time to time.
Descriptive Feedback: describes what the student said or did, and then provides guidance for improvement with the target of meeting goals.
Descriptive feedback uses learning outcomes as the foundation for providing targeted feedback for task improvement and ultimately independent success. Example: I like the way you tried to spell cat. You had the first and last letters. You just need to stretch the word out so you can hear that middle sound. Do you think you can try that again?
Evaluative feedback may make high achieving students feel complacent and low achieving students feeling unmotivated and essentially lost by the lack direction on how to find their way to achieving the desired learning objectives.
“How we provide suggestions for improvement is critical in ‘closing the gap’ for students”.
Clark (2003) suggests that there are three different types of feedback we can use and this will be dependent on the specific situation and need of the student.
Reminder prompt (remind students of information already learned or possible additions to their work)
Example prompt (provides transferable examples of
Students as Active Participants in the Feedback Process
It is important that a teacher clarifies the feedback and ensures that it is at the appropriate level (zone of proximal development). This can then be clarified by asking the student whether they have enough information to help them towards the learning intention.
“Not enough, and the student is still in the dark, and doesn’t know how to improve. Too much and the student doesn’t have to try”.
It is really important to note that written feedback may not be helping the children to meet learning intentions and success criteria.
- Some children may not be able to read the feedback (level)
- The comprehension level of feedback may hinder understanding
- Many children will simply not read the feedback
- Teachers writing may be difficult to read.
- If you choose to use written feedback, ensure you read it with your student and ask clarifying
questions to ensure understanding.
Marks VS Comments – Research Findings
- Students given only marks made no gain from the first to the second lesson.
- Students given only comments scored on average 30% higher.
- Giving marks alongside comments cancelled the beneficial effects of the comments. (Ministry
of Education Assessment Online)
Teachers must not set tasks with a lot of criteria as it makes giving targeted feedback difficult. If you have to give a large amount of feedback children are likely to get confused and forget key points. Clark suggests that highlighting two or three successes in the student’s work and one area where some improvement is necessary is best.
Some practical strategies for effective formative feedback to try out in the classroom
- Teach students how to give feedback to peers but consistantly modeling feedback
- Use comment only leaning engagements: Comments that are specific and show how the children
- Self-Assessment: Expect the children to self assess their work and they must show evidence of this
(use a small checklist?).
- Positive comment
- Constructive criticism with
explanation of how to improve
- Positive comment
Ensure you provide time for students to act on feedback
- This allows students to focus on the feedback and reinforces the importance of feedback in
reaching your goals.
- Ensure that you allow time to follow up the feedback by using strategies as a dialogue in their book.
- Use a target tracker
- I like the use of a learning journal for children to reflect on their learning and feedback.