Quality Learning and Teaching

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Feedback and/or Feed Forward


In my early days of teaching I would spend hurs providing students with written feedback that assessed their current performance as judged through a piece of work they had submitted. At the time I thought I was being very helpful and somehow the students would be inspired to do better next time but I soon found that they focused on the grade and they were not interested in the “amazing” notes I had typed up for them. I came to the realisation that I was basically providing a justification for the grade I had awarded for the work and the “feedback” sheet was barely looked at again. If and when I provided time to reflect back on these sheets the majority of students had either lost them or hadn’t given them any more thought since they had been provided to them. Most of us do not have a choice as to whether we can use grades or not and the debate continues as to whether we should have them or not. Alfie Kohn, along with others, have outlined the danger of grades. His article is well worth a read http://www.alfiekohn.org/article/case-grades/. During my career, however, I didn’t have a choice so I needed to find a way to ensure that students were improving and they were engaged in their learning.

Fortunately, with experience and learning I discovered the need to empower students and involve them in their learning, ensuring that they developed an understanding of the learning process. My recent post outlined how learning intentions and success criteria can make the learning transparent for students. Combining these with explicit, focussed feedback and feed forward discussions provided me with the opportunity to focus on having a developmental impact on student learning and took the focus away from the grade. My assessment approach changed so that the feedback focussed on a discussion related to the learning intentions and success criteria and I found that this way students maintained their motivation and were willing to re-draft their work and feed forward discussions helped students make informed changes to their future learning and allowed them to set individualised learning goals. I have provided a link to Shirley Clarke discussing, “Self, Peer, Teacher” feedback and also Ron Berger’s “Critique and feedback – the story of Austin’s butterfly”. Berger’s video also promotes the idea of the first piece of work not being the final one and clearly shows how “feedback” or “feed forward” can be so successful.



2 Comments to

“Feedback and/or Feed Forward”

  1. March 26th, 2017 at 7:44 am       barupatx Says:

    Catherine, I love your terms “learning intention,” “success criteria,” and “feed forward”. The feed forward has an especially positive and empowering connotation so I can see why your students maintained their motivation. I believe I’ll adopt those terms, too, if you don’t mind!

    Thank you for an inspiring post.

  2. March 27th, 2017 at 6:05 am       cathtemple Says:

    Shirley Clarke has done a lot of work around learning intentions and success criteria if you want to find out more.

    Thanks for your comment.

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