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Response to Assignment 3 Task

My extended critical analysis and reflection on a concept or issue related to relationships and
learning management.

Assignment 3: Critical reflection

Teacher s Feedback: An influential tool for student achievement

A teacher has a long-lasting impact on the lives of their students. It is the teacher whose
influence makes a difference in a student s life. Out of the various factors that contribute to a
student s academic performance, the teacher has the greatest impact (Hattie, 2003). The teacher
does a number of jobs to make learning happen in the classroom. Students positive engagement in
the learning task is critical for effective learning to take place. Intrinsic motivation among students is
paramount in order to engage students in the learning tasks. The teacher can use a number of
ways to generate intrinsic motivation among students. One such way to develop intrinsic motivation
among students is to give effective feedback. Productive teaching not only s ubsumes transmitting
information to students but also subsumes assessing students understanding of transmitted
information. Assessment is done in order to match the next teaching act to the existing
understanding of the students. The latter part is the feedback part. Feedback does not stand for
making comments on student work or providing students with a grade or mark in reply to a piece of
an appraised work rather it is much more than that. Ramaprasad (1983, 4 cited in Walker, 2009)
precisely defines feedback as information about the gap between the actual level and the reference
level of a system parameter which is used to alter the gap in some way.' So in this context,
feedback stands for the information given to students to make use of it in altering the gap between
the existing performance and the absolute. As Walker (2009, 68) notes "a necessary precondition
for a student to act on a gap is that she/he is given a comment that enables her/him to do so: the
comments must be usable by the student." Consequently "it is the quality, not just the quantity, of
feedback that merits our closest attention" (Sadler, 1998, 84).

Feedback is an indispensable part of effective learning. It assists students understand the


content being studied and provides them clear guidance on how to improve their learning. Bellon,
Bellon and Blank (1991) state 'academic feedback is more strongly and consistently related to
achievement than any other teaching behaviour...this relationship is consistent regardless of grade,
socio economic status, race, or school setting.' Right feedback intends to improve a student's
confidence, self-awareness and enthusiasm for learning.

There has been a considerable educational research on the practices of providing fee dback to
students. Black and William, in their landmark study on formative assessment, state descriptive
feedback is the most powerful tool for improving student learning (2003). Feedback is one of the
most compelling influences on learning and achievement; however this impact can be either
positive or negative (Hattie and Timperley, 2007). Although feedback is among the principal
influences, the type of feedback and the way of delivery can be differentially productive.

During both the professional practice placements, I observed minimal use of formative
assessment in lower and upper high school which further restricted itself to the practice of showing
test papers to the students and then collecting back. There was hardly any feedback given to the
students regarding their performance, their weaknesses and strengths but percentage of marks
instead. Lack of feedback might be one of the reasons for students to get demotivated. Negative
feedback or no feedback for student performance either in the test or any class activity may lead to
student demotivation and disengagement. Proper feedback is critical for each student especially for
low ability students in order to raise their self-esteem, to build their confidence and perception about
themselves as learners. The importance of feedback was made obvious during practicum when I
asked one student of year ten the reason for not being interested in the class activity. The student
s reply gave me a reason to choose the feedback as my topic for critical r eflection. The student
replied that it would not matter much whether he did his work or not as he was to get a similar
response from the teacher for him being incompetent. There is a strong possibility that the teacher
either did not respond to his work properly or inform him about how he was performing and what
skills he needed to improve. The student s reply proves that the teacher s correct response to
student performance has a strong impact on the student s interest in learning. Bad feedback can
disrupt student s interest in learning by demotivating them (Hattie and Timperley, 2007).

Another thing I noticed during practicum was students unwillingness to submit their homework.
This was prevalent in almost all year levels in the upper school. The reason behind this
unwillingness may be linked with the lack of appropriate feedback from the teacher. Homework
without feedback neither supports learning nor does it enhances enthusiasm in students for doing
homework. Page (1958), in his classic study, explored that homework with teacher s written
feedback most likely tends to facilitate learning. This finding was confirmed by the results of another
study conducted by Cardelle and Lyn (1985) on 504 sixth-grade students in Venezuela. The results
proposed that a constructive feedback addresses discrete features of content, targetting key errors
and renders corrective guidance, effects student learning positively notwithstanding ability levels.
For feedback to serve the exact purpose, it must be timely, constructive, and must include the
instructions for further improvement. The teacher must be very careful in not hurting the emotions of

the students. The feedback provided by teachers must be directive. It must challenge and
encourage the students to perform better, develop self-regulation abilities and must lead to
improvement in students (Dinham, 2008).

Feedback is considered formative if it assists students to overcome difficulties (William, 1999)


and provides students with information about their performance in relevance to set and clear goals
and helps them to: (i) establish the causes of the gap between the desired and the existing level
they are at and (ii) act to ll that gap (Black & William, 1998, Hattie & Timperley, 2007). Only in tha t
case it can be said that feedback promotes the learning process. As Winne and Butler (cited in
Hattie & Timperley, 2007) suggested, Feedback is an information with which a learner can confirm,
add to, overwrite, or restrictive information in memory, whether the information is domain
knowledge, meta -cognitive knowledge, beliefs about self-tasks, or cognitive tactics and strategies
(p.82). In order to obtain positive results, feedback must focus on the steps necessary to improve
the performance along with the information about how to do it (Brookhart, 2007; Hattie & Timperley,
2007; William, 1999). Being a student teacher, I strongly agree to the above - mentioned statement.
During the practicum, it was the regular constructive feedback from the mentor th at motivated me to
improve upon my mistakes and notified me of my strengths and weaknesses along with the
suggestions of how to do it.

In recent years, there have been significant research studies regarding the role of feedback in
enhancing student learning and achievement. Hattie (1999) in his synthesis of over 500 meta analyses found feedback a powerful influence on student learning and achievement among 100
factors affecting educational achievements with effect size 0.79. The feedback meta - analyses also
indicated a considerable variability about the types of feedback that are more influential than others.
The type of feedback providing students with the information about the task and the ways to do it
had highest effect sizes and lower effect sizes were associated with praise, rewards, and
punishment. Deci, Koestner, and Ryan (1999) found a negative connection between extrinsic
motivation and student performance in their meta analyses of the influence of feedback on student
motivation. They concluded rewards and punishments to be negative because these "undermine
people's taking responsibility for motivating or regulating themselves" (p. 659). On the other hand,
Hattie (1999) in his meta- analyses reported that the most influential form of feedback contains
suggestions or reinforcement for learners in relation to goals.

Kluger and DeNisi (1996) in their most methodical study explored the varied feedbacks and
their effects. In this meta- analysis including 131 studies of feedback interventions, they evaluated

470 effect sizes based on12,652 participants and 23,663 observations.They concluded that the
impact of feedback depends upon the direction of the feedback corresponding to the performance
on a task. Feedback has a greater impact when it renders the guidance on correct instead of
incorrect responses; goals are particular and challenging, and are non- threatening to self-esteem
of learners.

A recent study by Ajogbeje, Ojo, and Ojo (2013) examined the effects of formative assessment
with feedback on 227 junior secondary school students achievement. This controlled study
investigated the effects of formative assessment with feedback in contrast with the other
experimental group served with Formative Test only and control group with Non - Formative Test.
The study discovered that the students who received feedback performed better than the students
than those who took formative test only. The performance of students with non- formative test was
the least. Nevertheless, there was no impact of gender and socio economic status of the learner on
their achievement. The results were in agreement with the earlier findings of Kirkland (1971),
Bridgeman (1974), Bardwell (1981) and Ajogbeje (2012a, c) that feedback from tests provide
intrinsic motivation to students. The feedback given as a result of the test scores may affect the
motivational, self- confidence and apprehension level of students (Kirkland, 1971 as cited in
Ajogbeje, Ojo, and Ojo (2013)). The results of this research established that proper feedback and
remediation would provide learners with an opportunity to understand the content as well as his or
her capabilities in depth, which would enable them to perform better the next time. The result
further established that it is imperative on the part of teacher to conduct diagnostic assessment and
provide comprehensive and effective feedback to students as this leads to intrinsic motivation
(Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier, and Ryan, 1991). Feedback when delivered appropriately enables the
students to get involved in learning and leads to self-regulated learning (ODonoghue, Warman, and
Alger, 2009).

It is not that all the studies have reported the positive impact of feedback on the student
learning and achievement. Some studies reported that feedback targetted at students self - esteem
had a negative effect on students performance (Brookhart, 2007; Hattie & Timperley, 2007).
According to Black and William (1998), 40% of 131 studies demonstrated a negative impact on
students performance owing to feedback.

Nowadays the importance of feedback in enhancing student learning and achievement is


unquestionable. It has become an indispensable part of educational setting. Assessment and
reporting policy of education department in line with Education Act 1994, Section 3.3 also highlights
the importance of feedback in educational setting. The policy requires principals of all schools

including government, independent and catholic schools, in consultation with their staff, to set up
clear practices in their schools or senior secondary schools to support both formative assessment
with the aim of providing consistent feedback to students, and summative assessment with the aim
of reporting to parents and at a system level against the Australian Curriculum according to the
enforcement time line. The policy also mentions formative assessment to be organised, focussed,
ongoing and inclusive of all students. It must focus on what students are aware of, perceive and
can do. It further demands that the formative assessment should provide worthwhile feedback to
students and their parents because for effective learning to take place, it is crucial to collaborate
with key stakeholders (Department of Education, 2013).

The aim of this policy is to set up school practices, which assists each student to cult ivate
understanding, skills, and confidence to accomplish their individual potential. According to the
guidelines of the policy, it is the responsibility of the whole- school to meet the needs of every
student (including gifted and talented, at educational risk and students with learning difficulties and
it should be reflected in school planning.

No doubt many teachers provide students with feedback. The general trend of providing
students with feedback in schools is either verbal or written. It is a common practice in schools to
write praiseworthy comments such as well done, Keep it up or You can do well. Even before
this critical reflection, I was of the idea that the feedback stands for writing encouraging comments
on the work done by students. However, positive feedback is more than that. Many teachers claim
that they provide sufficient feedback to students, but the question is whether the students obtain
and make sense of the information in the feedback. When asked from teachers if they provided
comprehensive feedback to help students improve for their next assignment, 70 percent of teachers
asserted of doing the same. However, their claims were agreed upon by only 45 percent students
(Carless, 2006 as cited in Hattie, 2009). The teachers comment that students are not interested in
feedback comments but grades. Even I had noticed this thing during my practicum. If students
receive feedback, they do not seem to make use of it as a resource for learning. It can be noticed
from the same errors recurring in ensuing work. The reason for students for not paying any heed to
the given feedback may be due to various reasons such as teacher s illegible handwriting,
ambiguity of comments, use of abbreviations or symbols, academic language used by t he teacher
or students lack of skills to use feedback as a learning tool or sometimes it is provided too late to
be of any use at all. Therefore, the feedback must contain

descriptions (what has been attempted and/or not attempted);


evaluative judgements (how well the task have been attempted);

suggestions (how it could be done);


explanations and
motivating comments.

Walker (2009) in his study found that most of the written feedback comments contained
descriptions, judgements and motivational comments, but were devoid of suggestions and
alternative approaches required for improvement. His findings were in agreement with the findings
of Weaver (2006) where students pinpointed that they found feedback comments very unhelpful
when they were vague, lack guidance, focus mainly on negatives, and unrelated to assessment
criteria.

A debate can be established in favour of teachers for not providing students with such detailed
feedback. Providing written feedback is slow and time- consuming owing to large class sizes and
teachers workload. It may be difficult and demanding while predicting what is useful in each
situation as students differ largely in their abilities and hence requirements. Some research studies
also recommended for students to resubmit their work after being acted upon the feedback. It only
increases teachers workload. As per curriculum, there is so much content to teach, so
both teachers and students may feel overwhelmed.

Despite the above- mentioned limitations, the importance of effective feedback cannot be
denied. These limitations can be minimised by making use of certain strategies to enhance student
engagement with the feedback process. One method is to design assessment in such a way that
students find attending to feedback suggestion a benefit. This can be accomplished by dividing
assignments into parts and rendering feedback which is essential to the successful transition of
subsequent stages. Additionally, students can be asked to write down h ow they used feedback to
proceed to the next part of the task. This strategy has the added advantage of encouraging
students meta-cognition and making them more active participants in the feedback -learning cycle.
The work pressure for teachers can thus also be counterbalanced (Nicol and Draper, 2008).
Another way to encourage student reflection on feedback comments is to provide a tentative grade,
but ask students to discuss their work and potentially obtain a higher grade (Taras, 2003).

Hattie and Timperley (2007) claimed that the main aim of providing feedback is to reduce the
differences between the current understanding and the performance and the aim. They suggested a
model of effective feedback that recognises specific properties and conditions that make it work.

According to them, there arefour levels at which feedback operates - task level, process level, selfregulation level, and self- level. The first three level are far more effective than the fourth level that
usually contains no learning information. They further add that the effective feedback is the one that
answers the three main questions: Where I am going? How I am going? Where to next? The
authors also emphasised that the feedback is considered the most powerful when it is received, not
given. The feedback permits teachers to see learning through the eyes of their students. When
teachers aspire feedback from students as to what they are aware of, what they comprehend,
where they commit errors, when they possess misconceptions, when they are not involved in
learning, then teaching and learning can be coordinated. It can help teachers to plan for the next
step. It also empowers students to advance towards challenging learning desires and goals. Hattie
(2009) emphasised that teachers must ask their students constantly in order to augment the
feedback from the learner back to the teacher. He also advised to build a classroom environment
where error is welcomed. When teachers obtain feedback about their impact then the students are
the biggest recipients.

During my practicum, I tried giving written and verbal feedback comments at various
instances, on the formative tests scores as well as on homework assignments. I used to give
students specific verbal feedback regarding whether they were on the right track or not or how they
performed. As a consequence, I observed that the students performed better and felt motivated to
get engaged in learning. However, now I feel that where I lacked in providing written feedback. My
feedback comments never had all the characteristics of an effective feedback as mentioned above.
Moreover, getting feedback from students will help me adapt my interventions according to their
needs and will certainly improve my teaching practice.When I get a chance in the future to teach
students, I will certainly make use of effective feedback as a tool to enhance student learning and
achievement.

Model of effective feedback (Please click on asset link to see this folder)

Reference:

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