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Presentation on theme: "ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING"— Presentation transcript:

Effective feedback Assessment for Learning: Effective feedback This professional development module is one of four to be found on the Assessment for Learning website: There are two parts to the module: a datashow presentation, which should come first a workshop. In this module we will explore what constitutes effective feedback and the role that such feedback plays in assessment for learning. (It is anticipated that this datashow presentation will take between 30 and 40 minutes.)

2 Improving student performance
If our aim is to improve student performance, not just measure it, we must ensure that students know the performances expected of them, the standards against which they will be judged, and have opportunities to learn from the assessment in future assessments. (Grant Wiggins, 2002) Improving student performance Let’s put this professional development module in context: WHY are we so concerned about feedback and the quality of feedback? This quote from Grant Wiggins is one way of summing it up: If we wish to improve student performance, then there is certain information that students need to have and, very importantly, to act on.

3 What is feedback? Feedback is information about how we have performed in relation to a stated goal. Feedback tells us what did or did not happen: – You were aware of where other players were positioned and made use of that knowledge when you had to dispose of the ball. What is feedback? This is a simple definition of feedback – Feedback is information about how we performed in relation to a stated goal. For example, a member of a sports team might receive feedback about her performance as a team member and her contribution to team success (the goal): – (Click to animate.) ‘You were aware of where other players were positioned and made use of that knowledge when you had to dispose of the ball.’

4 What is effective feedback?
Effective feedback provides: information about what happened or was done an evaluation of how well or otherwise the action or task was performed guidance as to how performance can be improved. What is effective feedback? Feedback on its own does little to assist students to improve their level of performance. As well as indicating what they did and did not do, effective feedback includes evaluation and further guidance. That guidance might be specified or implied, or it might be elicited from the students by asking questions designed to get them to suggest ways in which they can improve. To return to our sporting example. Here is an expanded piece of feedback (next slide).

5 An example of effective feedback
You were clearly aware of where other players were positioned because you were constantly looking around you, and you made very good use of that knowledge when you had to dispose of the ball. You made sure that you selected a player who was free of an opponent or in a good position from which she could shoot for goal. Sometimes, though, your disposal was not accurate and the other player missed the ball. At training tomorrow we’ll do some drills to focus on improving ball disposal. An example of effective feedback This feedback: Describes what happened – the player had the ball, looked around to see who was in a good position to receive it and then disposed of it, but on occasions failed to do so accurately. Provides an evaluation – the player was clearly aware, made very good use of her knowledge about where players were positioned, selected an appropriate player to pass the ball to, but disposal was not always accurate. Provides guidance about how performance could be improved in the future – drills to focus on improving ball disposal.

6 Principles of effective feedback
Is specific and avoids vague comments. Is varied in its method of application. Uses models showing desired outcomes. Shows a valuing of student work. Uses marks or grades only some of the time. Provides time for students to act upon advice. Enables students to know how they will benefit. Principles of effective feedback In addition to providing information, evaluation and guidance, effective feedback will also adhere to certain principles. It will have specific relevance to the established goals of the learning experience. Students will be well aware of the qualities expected to be demonstrated in the task or performance, and feedback will occur in relation to these. Students will know how they will benefit if they act on the feedback. Effective feedback comes in many varied forms, all of which will be used by teachers at some time, for example, verbal, written, immediate (on-the-spot, as it happens) or distance (the work is taken away and ‘marked’). As a matter of access for all students, feedback should be made available in more than one form. Effective feedback is supported by examples or models that illustrate performance. Effective feedback values student work by refusing to concentrate only on the negative aspects of a student’s performance. It acknowledges the positives and confirms the possibility of, and direction for, improvement. Writing corrections all over a student’s work does not value it. Marks and grades are not provided for every piece of work. Indeed, the research of Black and Wiliams in the UK asserts that assigning grades is counter-productive in terms of encouraging student learning. School policy, however, will determine practice in this regard. Most importantly – again as pointed out by Black and Wiliams – feedback is not effective until students have acted on it. Teachers must therefore ensure that students are given time and the opportunity to do this.

7 When does feedback occur?
Feedback can occur at any point in the learning cycle: – while students are working on a task – while students are presenting a task – at the end of the task. When does feedback occur? Feedback commonly occurs during a task, while students are working to complete it, and is part of the process of informal assessment for learning. This kind of feedback is most likely to be verbal, and addressed to an individual. Where a group or a class are experiencing the same difficulties or misunderstandings, the feedback could have a wider audience. In some cases, feedback can occur while students are presenting a task. During an oral presentation, for instance, teachers or peers might ask questions or make comments. These questions or comments might be ones that confirm for students that they have prepared soundly and are well in control of the content of the presentation, or they might point to gaps in understanding or preparation or delivery. Feedback also occurs at the end of a task, and this is the kind of feedback that is the main focus of this presentation.

8 Features of effective feedback
Acknowledges success and provides an indication in several areas where improvement could occur. Is accessible – must be able to be read and understood. Students are made aware of the purposes of feedback. Features of effective feedback Research indicates that choosing to concentrate feedback on one or two expected qualities is more effective than expecting students to respond to feedback on many aspects of the task. It seems obvious, but if students can not read the teacher’s handwriting, then the feedback becomes ineffective. Similarly, verbal feedback needs to be clearly expressed so that students understand it. Making students aware of the purposes of feedback – that it is part of an ongoing dialogue designed to improve their learning and performance – is something that needs to be done in an explicit fashion. The importance of allowing students the opportunity to act on feedback – and creating the expectation that they will do so – is also relevant here.

9 Effective feedback in action (1)
Teacher comments should focus on improvement in future tasks. ‘Comments like “Use paragraphs!” are useless – if I knew how to use them, I would have done so.’ Effective comments are clear, succinct and related to the specific learning intention. Effective feedback in action (1) At the classroom level, effective feedback will be clear, purposeful and focused on future improvement of student learning. Comments, whether verbal or written, are ones that clearly indicate what needs to be done in order to improve and how it should be done. Irrelevant comments should be avoided. Praise of students – comments like ‘Fine!’, ‘Excellent!’, ‘Good!’ – are ‘quick fix’ comments and actually do little to motivate students to aspire to better performance. Some praise is essential, but far more effective are comments that encourage students to higher-level thinking, for example ‘Good! Now, I wonder why you’ve made that comment. What evidence do you have for your point of view?’.

10 Effective feedback in action (2)
There is no one appropriate way of providing feedback to students. Rather, the nature of the task and the context of the work in the particular learning area should determine the form in which the feedback occurs. In some learning areas, moderate and focused praise is essential in building student self-confidence. Effective feedback in action (2) Appropriate kinds of feedback to students will necessarily vary from one learning area to another, and no single kind of feedback will be sufficient for each learning area. In which learning areas, for instance, might it be particularly relevant to focus on building student self-confidence?

11 Effective feedback in action (3)
peer correction can be an effective strategy peer assessment/feedback needs practice and teacher guidance peer assessment/feedback helps make students more reflective of their own work. Effective feedback in action (3) The process of peer assessment or feedback, on the other hand, can be a powerful way of assisting students to appreciate how and why their work is accurate or inaccurate and where they need to improve. To establish a culture of peer assessment in a classroom, however, requires that students are given guidelines and opportunities to practise the strategy. They should be asked, for instance, to identify strengths before moving on to areas in need of improvement; to refer to concrete examples in the student work, rather than simply give an overall impression; to back up their comments with evidence from the student work. Because students who engage in peer assessment are inevitably comparing another student’s work with their own, there is the opportunity for them to become more reflective of their own work.

12 Effective feedback in action (4)
Some learning areas require ongoing and regular student-teacher dialogue, with feedback to guide students through smaller key developmental steps. In other learning areas, keeping the balance between feedback about content or knowledge and feedback about process is crucial as feedback often needs to correct key misunderstandings. Effective feedback in action (4) This slide describes how other learning areas offer specific opportunities for different kinds of feedback. Which learning areas might be particularly relevant in the case of the above examples?

13 Effective feedback in action (5)
When giving verbal feedback, use of a positive tone of voice, with regular indications that the teacher is listening, enables the students to feel at ease and to be willing to actively participate in the dialogue. Avoid damaging self-esteem – concentrate on the task rather than the student. Effective feedback in action (5) Verbal feedback has been referred to earlier, particularly when we mentioned the role played by praise in motivating students and encouraging them to reflect on and improve their performance. There are many situations in which verbal feedback is preferable to written feedback: it is timely – can be delivered on the spot, as needed misunderstandings can be instantly clarified (many students report not being able to understand teacher’s written comments …) a dialogue will often provide the teacher with further insights into students’ thinking. A very useful professional development activity could involve making a tape or video of a teacher’s class in order to evaluate the quality of the oral feedback.

14 Possible feedback strategies (1)
Work with students to ensure understanding of the meaning and application of assessment criteria prior to their commencement of a task. Use wall displays and checklists which identify what is being sought in the learning. Give verbal feedback while students work on a task. Model the standard of work required and frame feedback in relation to this. Ask older students to maintain learning journals. Possible feedback strategies (1) Involving students in the design of their assessment (see the professional development module ‘Designing and using rubrics’ for practical suggestions) and making certain that they understand the indicators of student performance will ensure that the feedback has a context within which to take place. Wall displays and checklists will serve as a reminder of the focus of the learning. Encourage students by referring to these constantly. When students are not engaged in a task designed to produce a summative assessment, verbal feedback during the task will provide scaffolding for their learning. Models or exemplars of the desired performance or elements of the process can be discussed with students prior to their undertaking the task and displayed in the classroom for reference during completion of the task. A learning log or journal is one of the strategies to formalise feedback and to encourage older students to reflect on how they will incorporate that feedback into their future learning. Students are regularly given time to write in these journals, which should be periodically read and commented on – in written or oral form – by the teacher.

15 Possible feedback strategies (2)
Develop agreed symbols for annotating student work, to focus on improving work. Where appropriate, use self-adhesive notes to give quick feedback, without devaluing the student’s work, especially in the case of major projects. Encourage older students to write a learning intention at the outset. Consciously focus on highlighting successes. Use marks or grades sparingly, not constantly. Make use of student self-assessment or peer assessment. Possible feedback strategies (2) To facilitate student understanding, and ease the burden of teacher assessment, teachers in a particular learning area might decide to develop and use a series of symbols, for example, noting spelling, organisational, reasoning and understanding problems or strengths. To provide feedback on work in progress or major tasks, self-adhesive notes can be more constructive, as well as more encouraging, to the student. By insisting on students developing and writing a statement of learning intention before they begin a task, teachers encourage students to reflect on the purpose of the learning. The learning intention also provides a focus for teacher feedback. (An example of a learning intention might be as simple as: to give my opinion of a story with some supporting reasons.) Acknowledgement of student success is an important part of feedback and needs to be consciously implemented. Individual learning areas, in the context of a school-wide policy, might consider making decisions about the number of tasks that will be graded. Another professional development module on the Assessment for Learning website will assist teachers with strategies for developing student self-assessment and peer assessment.


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