The importance of feedback in assessment

In recent years there has been a fundamental change in the way schools think about the role and nature of assessment and the vital role feedback plays in significantly improving learning outcomes.

The driver of this change has been the overwhelming weight of evidence and research from international experts such as Professor John Hattie, who have shown how learning outcomes significantly improve when teachers and other practitioners use assessment to provide 'feedback information' about aspects of a learner's performance or understanding. Feedback, Hattie states "fills a gap between what is understood (How am I going?) and what is aimed to be understood (Where am I going?)." For further reading, see John Hattie's article Formative and summative interpretations of assessment information.​

Types of feedback used with learners

Feedback is one of the most effective teaching and learning strategies and has an immediate impact on the learning progress of each child. This feedback can be practitioner to learner, learner to practitioner, self assessment and feedback to and from peers. There are different ways that this feedback is collected, provided and used.

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The importance of descriptive feedback

Whilst grades are still commonly given for tests and reports, descriptive feedback is what early years practitioners and teachers are typically providing on a day to day basis in their interactions with learners and on their written work.

escriptive feedback can emphasize the strengths of the child's work as well as areas that they may need to work on and what they need to do next.
it is important that parents and carers support the importance of descriptive feedback and not focus only on the grades.


How to support feedback given to your child

One way parents and carers can support practitioner's feedback to learners is to make a regular time to talk with their child about specific pieces of work which their teacher or other educational professional has provided feedback on. Some guiding questions could include:

  • What do you think you did really well?
  • What do you think you need to improve on?
  • What do think your teacher wants you to work further on?
  • What did you learn?
Start by establishing that your child understands what is being discussed. Do encourage your child to note down any questions they may have about feedback given, and encourage them to ask follow up questions of their teacher in a timely fashion.

If your child feels that they are making mistakes, do not understand or can't do something immediately, remember to reinforce that making mistakes, or struggling to understand or to do something, are a normal part of the learning process.  Stay positive about your child's learning. It is important to remember that each child is different; some will find parts of their learning program more challenging than others.
Speak with your child's school if you have any questions about what your child is learning and how they are progressing. Some questions that may be useful could include:
  • How well is my child doing?
  • What are my child's strengths and what do they need to work further on?​​
  • What progress have they made?
  • What do they need to do now?
  • How can I best help my child with their learning?
    Read more about feedback​​. ​​











page updated 11/05/2016