Assessment & Feedback

The OTP course challenged and in places, changed quite dramatically some of our prior attitudes and beliefs about what effective teaching and learning looks like.  The importance of other beliefs or favourite practices of ours were reinforced and improved.

Most of all, the programme reinvigorated my aim to see learning through the eyes of my students and to further understand my students’ understanding.  This resurfaces the familiar quests of ‘getting inside the black box’ and ‘assessing for learning’ that feature on so many initial teacher training schemes.  Hardly novel concepts, yet ones that many of us find challenging to achieve.

Research findings

John Hattie, Professor of Education at Auckland University has synthesised the results of over 500,000 studies of the effects of influences on student achievement.  Findings suggest that almost all things we do in the name of education have a positive effect on achievement but only some practices have a marked and meaningful effect on student learning – not just a positive (greater than zero) effect.

A key finding from this research is that the most powerful single influence enhancing achievement is feedback (see table 1). What is needed is quality feedback and where that feedback has the greatest effect is when teachers receive more and better feedback about what the students have learned.

Table 1:  The top five innovations that are above the typical effect (Hattie)

Influence

Effect Size

Source of Influence
Feedback

1.13

Teacher
Students’ prior cognitive ability

1.04

Student
Instructional quality

1.00

Teacher
Direct instruction

.82

Teacher
Remediation/feedback

.65

Teacher

 

The Important Message

So, the starting point for my work on assessment and feedback at Chosen Hill is that most teaching innovations have some positive effect of student achievement but most influences merely impact on the probability of the presence of feedback and challenging goals:  achievement is enhanced as a function of feedback.  For us to become expert rather than just experienced teachers, one of the things we can do is to improve the frequency and quality of feedback given to the students in our classrooms.

Looking forward

My focus is now on exploring the questions below with a cross curricular, entirely non-judgemental perspective.

  • What kind of feedback should be taking place in our classrooms?
  • How could we obtain more feedback from students?
  • How can we improve the quality of feedback?
  • How can we ensure we act on this feedback to raise achievement?
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