Sunday, October 25, 2015

Feedback As a Lever

One of the things that we hope to solidify this year is the practice of providing students with clear and actionable feedback.  The importance of this cannot be overstated, for the more I think about it, the more I find that feedback is central to all of our present initiatives.

We are presently focused on:
  • Student Centered Learning
  • Student Self-Reflection
  • Goal-Setting as a Means To Improved Mastery
  • Release of Responsibility and the Fostering of Independence
  • Data-Driven Instruction
Each rests on a foundation of students knowing where they are.  We work extensively with rubrics in class, and do a lot to help students understand how they are a tool for them to understand their performance, and fodder for their goal-setting efforts.

Because of its centrality to our school's mission I did some reading of some professional text this summer.  Here are a few things to consider:

"John Hattie and Helen Timperley (2007) explained that its [feedbacks] purpose is 'to reduce discrepancies between current understandings and performance and a goal' (p. 86)" (Marzano 2009).

Researcher Valerie Shute said feedback is "information communicated to the learner that is intended to modify his or her thinking or behavior for the purpose of improving learning. (p. 154)" (Marzano 

"Hattie and Timperley (2007) synthesized the most current and comprehensive research in feedback and summarized findings from twelve previous meta-analyses, incorporating 196 studies and 6,972 ESs** (Effect Size[s]).  They calculated an overall average of 0.79 for feedback (translating to a 29 percentile point gain).  As shown by Hattie (2009), this is twice the average ES of typical educational innovations" (Marzano 2009).

** for an explanation of Effect Size see

Here is a quick graphic that clarifies the jargon above.  The higher the ES the more impactful the practice.

"They (Hattie and Timperley)  argued that feedback regarding the task, the process, and self-regulation is often effective, whereas feedback regarding the self (often delivered as praise) typically does not enhance learning and achievement.

Learning can be enhanced to the degree that students share the challenging goals of learning, adopt self-assessment and evaluation strategies, and develop error detection procedures and heightened self-efficacy to tackle more challenging tasks leading to mastery and understanding of lessons. (Hattie and Timperley (2007)" (Marzano 2009).

One of the things that I have incorporated into all of my written and verbal feedback is one, or two, quick things that a student could do next time to improve their performance.  We all know the importance chunking goals, and it is crucial that we temper student's expectations to go from a low level of performance to an extremely high one.  Just as with SMARTe goals in Base Camp we have to show them how realistic baby-steps are the surest way to guarantee success, and then offer them a couple baby steps to take right away.

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