Research Bites: Feedback

29 January 2018

research bites

Feedback

What is it?

Feedback provides information about how the learner is doing relevant to defined goals. Feedback fills a gap between what is understood and what needs to be understood by the learner; the main purpose of feedback is to reduce the discrepancy between these two states.

What does the evidence tell us?

Feedback studies tend to show very high effects on learning. However, it also has a very high range of effects, and some studies show that feedback can have negative effects and make things worse. It is therefore important to understand the potential benefits and the possible limitations of feedback as a teaching and learning approach. Research suggests that feedback that provides information about the task, the process or the learner’s self-regulation is most useful, whereas feedback aimed at the ‘self’ level, i.e. personal evaluation of the learner’s effort, can be detrimental.

How can teachers mobilise the evidence?

Providing effective feedback is challenging.

Feedback should:

  • be specific, accurate and clear (e.g. “It was good because you…” rather than just “correct”)
  • Compare what a learner is doing right now with what they have done wrong before (e.g. “I can see you were focused on improving X as it is much better than last time’s Y…”)
  • be given sparingly so that it is meaningful
  • provide specific guidance on how to improve and not just tell students when they are wrong
  • be supported with effective professional development for teachers.

Further Reading

Making Good Progress? The Future of Assessment for Learning, Daisy Christodoulou.

The Power of Feedback’, Hattie and Timperley (2007).

Focus on Formative Feedback, Valerie J Shute (2007)

Embedded Formative Assessment, Dylan Wiliam.

EEF Toolkit – Feedback

Posted on 29 January 2018
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