Feedback: all that effort, but what is the effect? (Research Paper)

I read some research about measuring the efficacy of Feedback. I enjoyed reading it because it made me think more deeply about my own “Assessment Literacy.a. This  reading was part of the #edureading group on Twitter. b Each month a new article is chosen and readers either record their responses on FlipGrid or they just participate in the Sunday night Twitter chat. I have missed a few articles but I am back on deck with this one.

The title of the article is: “Feedback: all that effort, but what is the effect?” c. You would have noticed the click-batey question, so, what is the answer? I’ll come back to that later. d

The main objectives of feedback is to:

  • justify to students how their mark or grade was derived
  • identify and reward specific qualities in student work
  • guide students on what steps to take to improve
  • motivate them to act on their assessment
  • develop their capability to monitor, evaluate and regulate their own learning (Nicol, 2010 (Source)

It made me realise that while I think I am being clear and explicit when explaining assessment tasks to students, I am probably not clear enough. I can also do better with how I provide the feedback.

  • I need to drill down deeper into students’ understanding and expectations of the assessment and feedback.
  • I want to drill down deeper into the IB MYP assessment criteria we use and explain them better, particularly to my Year 7s.
  • I will try to be clearer about the type of feedback(s) I will be giving (Five categories of roles of feedback: correction, reinforcement, forensic diagnosis, bench-marking and longitudinal development (feed-forward)
  • Post-feedback conversations seem to work, both according to this research paper and from my own anecdotal experience. I will have more of those, although it is hard with so many students.
  • I want to follow up better: Perhaps I can highlight ONE thing that I want the student to improve on, and then remind the student of this during class and on the next assessment task. Hopefully this will lead to more efficient and faster improvement.

When reading any text, I prefer to annotate it, leave thoughts and comments in the margins and generally be interactive with the text; it helps me understand and remember what I read. For academic texts, I like using Kami, which works seamlessly with Google Drive.
Here are my annotations, they are open so I encourage anyone who is interested in this to add their thoughts and annotations to it too. Click on this link:

Some good links to more reading:

Steven Kolber has listed some questions for the Twitter chat. I have done some pre-thinking on them:

  • Prompt 1: How do you balance the tension between observable output of feedback and impact on student’s learning? (

I guess that means: How much effort do we put in to feedback vs how much difference it makes to student improvement? Writing copious amounts of comments is not useful IMHO.  I think it is better to focus on one or two ‘big’ things and then follow those up with a conversation. Also, we must write clearly. No point in writing stuff the students can’t read.
I provide different types of feedback to different year groups. Year 7s get more ‘correcting’ feedback, whereas the Year 12s get more skills-based feedback. The latter is more work. I prefer to meet with students.

From Hutchings: “Let us call it a”pedagogical intelligence”—an understanding about how learning happens, and a disposition and capacity to shape one’s own learning.” > I want to further improve my clarity about what is required to do well on the assessment tasks. I want to model (#WAGOLL) (also see Rosenshine’s 10 Principles of Instruction) good answers. Explain the assessment criteria very clearly, especially because we are an IB MYP school where the criteria can be pretty dense if they are not clarified to the students.

Reflection reflection reflection. If I am not organised, I simply ask all of them to email me with a reflection on: What went well? What didn’t go so well? What have you learnt? What questions do you have? If I have more time, I’ll put a quick Google form together.  I also organise catch ups with the students, particularly (and mainly) my Year 12s after a SAC.

  1. thanks to Alistair Sproal for that link  (back)
  2. Organised by Steven Kolber  (back)
  3. Written by Margaret Price*, Karen Handley, Jill Millar and Berry O’Donovan  (back)
  4. 6pm on Sunday, I have things to do, and Twitter chat is on soon anyway  (back)