Research School Network: Summary of the EEF’s New Guidance Report: Teacher Feedback to Improve Pupil Learning A blog summarising the EEF’s new guidance report.
Summary of the EEF’s New Guidance Report: Teacher Feedback to Improve Pupil Learning
A blog summarising the EEF’s new guidance report.
by Durrington Research School
Today the EEF released their new guidance report ‘Teacher Feedback to Improve Pupil Learning’. The aim of this blog is to outline the key points for busy teachers who may have to wait a while before reading the report in full.
This report focuses on feedback from teachers to pupils and is defined as ‘information given by a teacher to pupil(s) about their performance that aims to improve learning’.
Feedback can focus on content; be delivered via different methods; be directed to different people; and be delivered at different times. When delivering feedback, it is crucial to think about ‘opportunity cost’: What other tasks may a teacher need to sacrifice to provide feedback? Is the cost to other aspects of teaching […] worth the time spent on feedback?
The guidance report is divided into six recommendations:
Recommendation 1: Lay the foundations for effective feedback
Feedback is what happens second.
Effective initial instruction, including appropriate use of formative assessment, will reduce the need for feedback.
Formative assessment is defined as ‘providing teaching that is adaptive to pupils’ needs and using evidence about learning to adjust instruction to ensure that learning moves forward’.
Recommendation 2: Deliver appropriately timed feedback that focuses on moving learning forward
Feedback should focus on the task, the processed or self-regulation and not pupils’ personal attributes.
Feedback offered immediately after learning, delivered up to a week after, and delivered during learning are all associated with similarly-sized positive effects on learning. This ambiguity means that it may not be appropriate for schools to mandate when feedback should be given; it is more likely to be productive to leave that decision to classroom teachers. In the moment teacher judgement is key.
Previous research has suggested that comments are preferable over grades, but more recent studies indicate that feedback in the form of grades can be effective provided the pupil knows what that grade means and specific ways to improve. This involves preparatory work as explored in recommendation 1.
Recommendation 3: Plan for how pupils will receive and use feedback
Factors that may influence a pupil’s use of feedback include: pupil motivation and desire for feedback; self-confidence and self-concept; trust in the teacher; and working memory.
A one-size fits all’ approach is unlikely to lead to a positive impact.
Teachers should prepare students for feedback by: Discussing the purpose of feedback; modelling the use of feedback by using a peer; providing feedback that is clear, concise and focused; and ensuring the feedback is understood.
Planning time for students to respond to feedback is crucial. Post-feedback activities could include indicating to a student where improvements could be made but asking them to think about how; a class discussion of the feedback in which the teacher explores, clarifies and explains what needs to change; correcting errors and editing work; and completing similar work with the feedback in mind.
Feedback should be used to plan the curriculum for next year as well as tasks within lessons.
Recommendation 4: Carefully consider how to use purposeful, and time efficient, written feedback
Rather than focusing on the method by which feedback is delivered, schools and teachers should ensure that all feedback fulfils the principles of Recommendations 1 – 3.
Written marking can sometimes be conflated with feedback, but written marking is only one form of feedback. Written feedback can be useful if delivered effectively, however, extensive written feedback may have a large opportunity cost when it comes to what teachers could be undertaking instead, e.g. planning or developing subject pedagogical knowledge.
There is a lack of evidence over exactly what effective written feedback might look like. Suggestions drawn from experienced practitioners and the available literature include:
Live marking, i.e. giving feedback during the lesson that is recorded in pupils’ books; coded marking; ‘thinking like the teacher’, i.e. asking pupils to pre-empt the teacher’s comments and thus editing and revising their work; and providing written comments can be effective and worth the cost if they are well-timed (for both pupils and teachers), include useful information and the pupils’ have opportunity to respond
Recommendation 5: Carefully consider how to give purposeful verbal feedback
Verbal feedback is not simply an ‘easy’ alternative to written feedback […] careful thought and consideration is still required.
There are several perceived advantages to verbal feedback. One example of this is the conversational nature of verbal feedback that means it can be easier to control how pupils receive the feedback (see recommendation 3).
Effective verbal feedback might: Link back to the learning intention; include asking students to write down ‘action points’; take place using a visualiser whereby examples of work are shared with pupils as the feedback is discussed; and use digital technology to video or record feedback comments where appropriate and useful.
Recommendation 6: Design a school feedback policy that prioritises and exemplifies the principles of effective feedback.
The best available evidence on effective implementation indicates that the development of new feedback strategies requires effective professional development.
Implementing or aligning feedback practices will need to happen in stages rather than as one big event. The following guidelines can help school leaders in beginning to construct a feedback policy:
Avoid the over-specification of the wrong things: Focus on the principles of effective feedback over surface-level features that do not impact learning, e.g. the colour of pen used.
Be clear on your purpose: Feedback should be about improving pupils’ learning.
Costs associated with feedback practices need to be carefully considered: Time-efficient methods should be favoured.
Demonstrate helpful worked examples of effective feedback practices, i.e. examples of what effective feedback looks like in schools.
Expectation management – of pupils, parents and teachers – matters. This includes communicating feedback practices to pupils and parents/carers, and creating a feedback policy that aligns with teachers’ professional ideals.
Focus on the foundations of learning: This is linked to the principle that underpins Recommendation 1, i.e. that feedback does not work in isolation and is dependent on prior effective instruction.
Fran Haynes – Assistant Director of Research School
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