Research School Network: Feedback Effective, high-quality and consistent feedback is a core component of effective, high-quality teaching and learning.



Effective, high-quality and consistent feedback is a core component of effective, high-quality teaching and learning.

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by Billesley Research School
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Effective, high-quality and consistent feedback is a core component of effective, high-quality teaching and learning.

Feedback is a crucial part of teaching and learning. Many of us spend hours marking student work and diligently writing diagnostic comments, and identifying areas for improvement. But, after the work is handed back – frustratingly – we don’t see any improvement in the next piece of work that is marked. Or, at least not enough to justify the four hours we spent on our Sunday evening slaving over Year 10’s essays on the role of war as a catalyst for change in medical progress. We also spend time in lessons giving oral feedback on written work, music compositions, or practical work without seeing the key feedback areas addressed and improved next time. This is frustrating for teacher and learner alike, and could leave us (both!) questioning, why do I bother?” and what’s the point?”.

For some, marking is perceived as an add-on or extra workload to our role as teachers. Instead, it is an integral and key part of our role that cannot be separated from teaching. Good feedback, delivered effectively, has low cost for high impact. The EEF Teaching & Learning Toolkit summarises this here:


Focusing on improving the quality of feedback is very low-cost, and the evidence on which these findings are based are extensive (155 studies), making it very secure – it could improve pupil progress by six months.


In terms of closing the disadvantage gap, there is evidence to suggest that feedback involving metacognitive and self-regulatory approaches may have a greater impact on disadvantaged pupils and lower prior attainers than other pupils”. The research has been summarised by the EEF into five key findings:

1. Providing feedback is well-evidenced and has a high impact on learning outcomes. Effective feedback tends to focus on the task, subject and self-regulation strategies: it provides specific information on how to improve.

2. Feedback can be effective during, immediately after, and some time after, learning. Feedback policies should not over-specify the frequency of feedback.

3. Feedback can come from a variety of sources – studies have shown positive effects of feedback from teachers and peers. Feedback delivered by digital technology also has positive effects (albeit slightly lower than the overall average).

4. Different methods of feedback delivery can be effective and feedback should not be limited exclusively to written marking. Studies of verbal feedback show slightly higher impacts overall (+7 months). Written marking may play one part of an effective feedback strategy – but it is crucial to monitor impacts on staff workload.

5. It is important to give feedback when things are correct – not just when they are incorrect. High-quality feedback may focus on a task, subject, and self-regulation strategies.

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Effective feedback needs to be included as part of planning and sequencing our curriculum – and if it is to be impactful and positive in terms of helping our learning to make progress, then it must be planned for and given time and attention. If you are looking at the next unit of work (say 7 weeks’ long, with 2 lessons a week), consider the following:

- when will you set the first piece of work that you will diagnostically mark?

- is oral or written feedback going to be more effective this time?

- when is the optimum time for you to give your feedback to the class?

- with regards to the last three points, what other aspects of staff workload need to be considered? Could other year groups’ assessments be staggered to spread feedback/​marking?

- how are you going to incorporate time for feedback into that lesson?

- when will this skill be practised again?

- how will the feedback they received earlier in the unit input into that lesson?

All of us, adults and children alike, need time to process, reflect on, and understand, feedback. If teachers receive constructive advice or observation feedback but do not take the time to reflect on it and consider how to improve, then we will not see any change in our teaching practice and in what we do in and outside of the classroom. The same is true for our learners and their feedback.

The EEF guidance report on Feedback and Assessment ( ) makes six key recommendations and invites us to reconsider how we are giving feedback, and how we are expecting students to respond to and use feedback.


As Dylan William said, every teacher needs to improve, not because they’re not good enough, but because they can be even better”. The word teacher” could be replaced with the word person” here and apply to most contexts. Helping our students to be even better” can be achieved by focusing on the principles, methods and implementation guidance drawn from evidence-based research. Doing so may also have the happy side-effect of improving teacher efficacy (and morale, as they see the positive impact of their feedback, and time well spent in planning and delivering it), as well helping our learners to become more motivated, self-reliant and confident. That feels like a win all-round to me.

Ruth is Assistant Headteacher for Teaching & Learning at Holte School in Lozells, Birmingham and tweets as @Holte_TLA

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