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.
Questions that teachers pose to individual students and groups of students during the learning process
Feedback provided to the practitioner to determine what specific concepts or skills the learner may be having trouble with.
Specific, detailed, and constructive feedback that teachers provide on student work, such as journal entries, essays, worksheets, research papers, projects, ungraded quizzes, lab results, or works of art, design, and performance.
Feedback provided to the learner. The feedback may be used to help the learner to self-reflect and revise or improve a work product.
'Exit tickets' that quickly collect student responses to a teacher's questions at the end of a lesson or class period.
'Admit slips' are a similar strategy used at the beginning of a class or lesson to determine what students have retained from previous learning experiences or what they already know and can do.
Exit tickets provide feedback to the practitioner. Based on what the responses indicate, the practitioner can then modify the next lesson to address concepts that students have failed to comprehend or skills they may be struggling with.
The 'Admit slip' is also an example of students providing feedback to their teachers.
Self-assessments that ask students to think about their own learning process, to reflect on what they do well or struggle with, and to articulate what they have learned or still need to learn to meet course expectations or learning standards.
This involve students in critical reflection and develops in students a better understanding of their own subjectivity and judgement.
Children can learn from their previous mistakes, identify their strengths and weaknesses and learn to target their learning accordingly. This encourages students to become more active in their learning.
When the child's self-assessment is shared with their teacher, the two can compare their perspectives and both have a better understanding of where the child is at in their learning.
Peer feedback allows students to use one another as learning resources. For example, "workshopping" a piece of writing with classmates is one common form of peer feedback, particularly if students follow a rubric or guidelines provided by a teacher.
Feedback to and from peers. Students individually provide each other with feedback using a predetermined list of criteria usually in the form of a rubric.
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.Descriptive 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: