Feedback is commonly defined as “actions taken by (an) external agent (or agents) to provide information regarding some aspect of one’s task performance.” (Kluger & DeNisi, 1996 p. 255)
Feedback to pupils comes in many shapes and sizes. There are many different strategies that can be used by a classroom teacher to give pupils effective feedback. Today's 'teaching technique Tuesday' will focus on one particular technique, which is 'whole class' feedback.
However, I think before we examine this strategy in more detail, it is important to first define what feedback is, as well as put in place a few feedback fundamentals that are critical no matter what feedback strategy you use with your pupils.
A somewhat unsophisticated paraphrasing of the quote above from Kluger & DeNisi tells us that - feedback is defined as the actions that we take, in order to give our students information, about elements of work they have completed for us.
Hattie and Timperley in their article, the power of feedback, explain feedback as a process. Reducing the discrepancy between current and desired understanding. In their model, feedback becomes effective when it sits alongside effective learning strategies and in turn, both of these (the strategies and the feedback) are used to try and reach, appropriate, challenging and specific goals. In this model, feedback answers three questions. 1) Where am I going? 2)How am I going? and 3)Where to next? The article was really interesting and gave me food for thought. It concludes, 'feedback can only build on something, it is of little use when there is no initial learning or surface information'. Before thinking about giving feedback, are our pupils aware of their goals - do they know where they are going? Are the learning strategies we are using sufficient to help them attain those goals?...if not maybe there are more important things that need addressed before feedback is introduced.
We also must remember that not all feedback will have a positive outcome. Sometimes instruction is much more effective when learning is inefficient or concepts have been poorly understood. Some studies have also found that feedback, if used incorrectly can make pupil performance worse. Any teacher wouldn't set out to worsen pupil performance intentionally, but we must be mindful of this pitfall and guard against it as best as we can. One way to be on our guard is to establish the reasons as to why we are giving feedback in the first place...