At it’s most simple, feedback is information given to a pupil and/or the teacher about the learners performance relative to their learning goals. It should aim to produce improvement in the pupil’s learning. Feedback should be designed to redirect or refocus the pupil or teachers actions to help achieve a learning goal or target. Feedback can be verbally given, written, or can be given through tests or digital technology.
Feedback can be from teacher/support assistant to pupil, pupil to pupil or pupil to adult.
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A substantial amount of research, reviews and meta analysis have been carried out on the effects of feedback. Studies show feedback has very high effects on learning for all types of learners, in all subjects and for all age groups.
The high amount of research evidence formed the rationale behind Assessment for Learning (AfL).
The costs associated with feedback are not high – in most senses it is free. For feedback to be used most effectively, however, a certain amount of training and professional development may be needed.
Effective feedback can, and will, improve outcomes and standards, nurture a feeling of achievement and positivity and deepen pupils’ knowledge.
Beware: the use of negative feedback can have the opposite effect and discourage effort and achievement! Choose your approach carefully!
Methods for providing positive and effective feedback
(i) Be positive whenever you can whilst still being critical/developmental.
- “Feedback sandwich” = praise, developmental, praise
- 3 stars and a wish = 4 comments, 3 positives and a wish (something which could be developed or improved)
(ii) Feedback MUST be given in a timely manner.
Feedback given and acted upon immediately builds positive reactions and memories. The longer between work being completed and feedback being given/received, the less effective it will be as pupils will fail to make those positive connections.
(iii) Reference targets/learning outcomes
Regular updates on a pupil’s progress towards achieving their personal targets helps them to know where they are in terms of achieving their long term goals or the year group standard.
(iv) Give feedback verbally and non verbally
- verbal feedback tends to be instant and encourages quick responses or actions; it can be a very powerful tool.
- non verbal feedback can also be powerful as a quick way of letting pupils know how they are doing; a nod, thumbs up or smile can go a long way. Take care – a frown or grimace can quickly undo your good work!
(v) Peer feedback
Teaching pupils to give each other developmental feedback can prove to be very constructive.
- Try allowing children to work in mixed ability pairs/groups
- High ability + low ability pairs can be very productive
- Why not try teaching Year 6 pupils to coach Year 3 pupils?
- Enable children to use post it notes so that they can write feedback in the books of their peers.
(vi) Provide a designated slot in your timetable for ‘response to feedback’
- Ensure that your feedback is most effective by enabling children to read it and respond to it.
- Set children a challenge as part of the feedback which they must complete during this time. The challenge should be designed to help them develop their work or to deepen their knowledge.
(vii) Use Post its or sticky tabs to label the pages where you have given feedback which needs responding to.
(viii) Provide models/examples/’experts’
- Make feedback more powerful by providing children with ‘higher level’ models and examples of the work they have produced – how does their work differ? what can they do to up level their work?
- Leave a note in their book telling them which of their peers is todays ‘expert’ (a child in the class with a particular strength use of adjectives for example) so that they know to pay them a visit.
(ix) Be brave and get children to give you feedback
We have all produced a piece of work which we have asked children to help us improve but how many have actually asked children to give us feedback on our teaching?
What was good about todays maths lesson? What should we do more of? What didn’t work?
Build a culture of openness and honesty and the children will be much more responsive to the feedback you give them!
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