Making Feedback Effective Fiona Roil

Feedback is the process by which current actions are assessed and scrutinised before the next action is taken. It’s used as a basis for improvement on work done. It’s about giving information in a way that others can reflect upon it to improve their own work or performance. Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement (Hattie & Timperley 2007). Hattie’s (2012) work, done with primary school children, looks at the type of feedback and the way it’s given. Children aged 5-12, during their primary education, need effective feedback in order to increase their learning.

Project Reflection to Date:

Over the past four years, I have been facilitating in one to one teaching spaces. It became evident since beginning my latest position, two years ago, that the children were not using or giving feedback effectively. Feedback had become part of their writing process but it was not effective, ie it was not being used to increase their learning. My colleagues and I embarked on “Project Feedback”. This included developing a team wide language of feedback. We used exemplars such as "Austin's Butterfly" to explain the power of feedback. The children were introduced to the progressions, they used their own work as exemplars and they were taught to give constructive effective feedback using a CSC approach. They give the author a positive comment on their work, make a suggestion for improvement based on the author’s learning intention and make a correction to the surface features in the text.

Communities to be engaged in the Inquiry

Some teachers or parents questioned the effectiveness and the weight I put on feedback, some students struggled to develop self-directed learning skills which were crucial in this learning model, but all students were motivated to try this new approach, willing to take risks and to learn and grow from mistakes. These challenges became the source of growth that compelled me to reflect and research on the how to successfully implement effective feedback and to educate our learning community including students, parents, my colleagues and myself.

It all starts with buy-in. How can I align the vision of parents, management, team members and myself so we are all on the same team — rooting for shared goals for the child?

Communication Plan:

Help them see my vision. Help the community to see the passion and confidence I have in this plan.

  1. Cite research that supports my decision. Research can go a long way to convince parents, even though many studies have their flaws and some areas don’t have a ton of useful research. I will pick one or two studies that illustrate my point.
  2. Point to my own experiences. Personal stories can be powerful. They help put parents in my shoes and shows them that I’m much like them.
  3. Give the community plenty of opportunity to talk. They may have questions.
  4. Don’t overdo it. Be concise. State my case plainly and then see what they have to say.

Project Plan

  • Can effective digital feedback influence students learning in primary education?
  • Can digital technologies be beneficial to both the feedback giver and receiver?
  • How do digital technologies support effective feedback?
  • Will digital feedback positively affect the results of Maori and Pacific Island students?

Stage One:

  • Getting the teachers and students on board
  • Meet with teachers and unpack communication plan. Ensure we assess where we have already come to and celebrate our successes so far.
  • Look at different types of digital feedback. Have teachers within the team use a variety of apps and ideas to give digital feedback. This feedback must however, be given using the same structure that we have worked on so far so the language of feedback remains consistent throughout the senior school. Eg blogging comment, screencastify video feedback, google doc commenting etc.
  • Continue with weekly team newsletters explaining to the community the digital feedback ideas we are trialling.
  • Assess the success of the digital feedback trials.
  • Gather student voice around the feedback and the success of it.

Stage Two:

  • Unpacking feedback approaches with parents and whanau.
  • Start to show examples of feedback that has been successful in weekly correspondence - samples of students and teachers work.
  • Focus group - Gather together a sample group of children, mixed ability and begin to follow their journey. Meet with them weekly and moderate their writing to see what is and isn’t working for them
  • Engage with Te Reo/ Taha Maori Specialist Teachers - refer reflective questions below.
  • Continued appraisal from DP - these discussions test my visions and ideas and question my leadership. This feedback helps to reflect on the journey so far and form my next steps. It keeps my inquiry on track.
Focusing the Inquiry

Outcomes for students:

  1. To write at or above the National Standard requirements
  2. To discuss a piece of writing both in depth and critically
  3. To accept and respond to feedback

Quantitative data -Data in relation to these outcomes currently - National Standard data from the previous years was analysed and student voice was also collected. Students were struggling to understand what was expected from them and there was an obvious trend in Maori and Pacific Island students not meeting the Standards.

What triggered the inquiry? As part of our student directed learning journey, students need to understand what they need to know and take responsibility for their own learning and achievements. The majority of fragile met, below and well below children in our data are Maori and Pacific Island students.

My theories - All students are capable of looking at their own work critically. Students need to understand their learning journey and what their next steps are in order to achieve them.

What is important given where my students are at? It’s important that there is some kind of intervention for the below and well below students. It also needs to work for all students including the extension groups.

Maori Akonga

Bishop and Glynn (1999) make the point that because the Pakeha culture is accepted as the norm in New Zealand Primary Schools, we have a lack of understanding about the importance of other cultures in the classroom and teaching to those cultures. Understanding and addressing this issue needs to be done in order to make the digital feedback effective for these students.

To find out the benefits and challenges of implementing effective feedback with Maori akonga, I will be working alongside Matua, Tipene Cotrell and Whaea Kerri Sherrard. Tipene has been employed by our school to work with the senior students as a Te Reo/ Taha Maori Specialist Teacher role. Tipene will provide support for teachers and will be actively involved in digital learning with Maori akonga. My interview questions will focus on the benefits and challenges of embracing the principles of Kaupapa Maori within effective feedback. These questions are:

One benefit of the effective feedback approach is that it allows students to take ownership of their learning and share it with others. This, in theory, should embrace the self-determination principle of Kaupapa Maori (Tino rangatiratanga). In my experience, Maori students are sometimes reluctant to share their work with others and will often ignore the feedback they have received. Have you encountered similar situations before? Can you suggest some strategies to help them overcome their resistance?

What are the challenges for non-Maori teachers in developing culturally preferred writing programs for Maori akonga? How can teachers overcome these challenges?

Whanau members play an integral part in the education of Maori akonga by understanding and communicating Maori akonga's needs to learn as Maori. Would it be a good idea to invite caring Whanau members to collaborate with teachers in showing them how we give feedback to Maori Akonga and get their thoughts and ideas about our process?

Potential Impact of Findings:

As I find more and more effective ways to give and receive effective feedback, I believe students will be more successful. They will be able to discuss their writing critically and take ownership of their successes. They will see themselves as writers and become confident, informed, self-directed learners. Having managements, teachers and parents on board during the journey will enable them to have greater ownership of the inquiry. Success will be individually owned by all stakeholders and give the inquiry more support, secure involvement and ownership.
Bishop, R., & Glynn, T. (1999). Culture Counts: Changing power relations in education. Palmerston North, N.Z.: Dunmore Press Ltd. Hattie, J. & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), pp. 81- 112. doi: 10.3102/003465430298487 Retrieved from http://rer.sagepub.com/content/77/1/81.full.pdf+html

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