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Research School Network: Assessment and the Importance of Feedback By Mr Shilen Tanna – Curriculum Team Leader for Art and Teaching Coach at The Blue School, Wells

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Assessment and the Importance of Feedback

By Mr Shilen Tanna – Curriculum Team Leader for Art and Teaching Coach at The Blue School, Wells

by West Somerset Research School
on the

Assessment and feedback

What we have learnt from the school closures?


Assessment and Feedback

We are at a really interesting point within education as a whole. There are so many questions and debates going on from a classroom-based context, all the way to an international one. One of these centers around assessment and feedback, and how this should look going forwards, post nationwide school closures.

Should we be giving formal assessments or qualifications due to the magnitude of disruption? Can we provide a fair and consistent mechanism to assess how individuals have performed during a period with significant disruption and anxiety?

One thing we all know is that the most impactful and cheapest way of improving student outcomes is through meaningful and appropriate mechanisms of feedback. The lockdown periods throughout the UK highlighted this more than ever and how the use of technology has aided teachers in assessing students work at all levels, providing feedback through various platforms that have enabled young people to improve. This is true both in the virtual learning environment and in the actual classroom when the teacher is directly in front of them. Even when we look at the evidence pre-pandemic, and now post-pandemic, the credibility of the evidence does not alter that when teachers providing appropriate and impactful feedback, as well as ongoing formative assessment, this will significantly improve student outcomes. 

Over the coming term, the Educational Endowment Foundation are in the processes of publishing a new guidance report on Feedback (June 2021), and their current measures suggest that on average, effective feedback can add up to 8 months additional progress in one academic year. This is the highest rating on their Teaching and Learning Toolkit scale. 

John Hattie also has placed these factors within his top 5 on the Visible Learning Scale of what works best in raising student achievement.

ASSESSMENT BLOG

When you weigh up the evidence, assessment and feedback are now intrinsically entwined with the use of technology and this has provided greater scope for accessible assessment to take place. Whether through an online working rubric against a set of success criteria or even through ongoing commentary on a working essay, worthwhile opportunities can be provided for individuals to learn about how they have performed and how they might improve in the future. Some might refer to this as DIRT’ (Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time). This is not rocket science” some sceptics might say, but periods of time set aside where students can respond to feedback and improve on what they have learnt are crucial. 

Even before the pandemic, my personal favourite was making use of voice recorded feedback (e.g. Mote) and voice typing, as this provided my students with more detail on areas to improve and greater personalisation of the overall assessed work. My hope was for greater clarity for the student, but also to improve that personal approach and connection to their teacher – something all students were perhaps missing during the school closures.

Unfortunately, the issues that school closures extenuated were around consistency, both staff and student capability and how assessment looked school-wide, perhaps regionally, and even nationwide. These issues are still ongoing, but I suppose the message is that teachers are now better equipped to use technology in multiple contexts, and embedding this to provide opportunities for assessment and feedback can only be positive, simply on the premise that this approach will further support students life chances.

Further, explicit recommendations about making best of use of digital technology can be found in the EEF’s Guidance Report, linked below.

Assessment blog 2

Resources


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Diagnostic Assessment

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A Marked Improvement

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EEF Digital Technology Guidance Report

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