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Writing Effective Feedback


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Workshop session for Evaluators and Endorsement Committee Members of the South African Council for Educators (SACE), given on 7-8 October 2014 in Centurion, South Africa

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Writing Effective Feedback

  1. 1. Writing Effective Feedback SACE-VVOB partnership Workshop October 7-8, 2014 Centurion
  2. 2. Outline • Concept of Feedback • Types of Feedback • Criteria of Effective Feedback • Discussion & Exercise
  3. 3. Introduction What’s the ultimate purpose of the evaluation & endorsement process? To endorse qualitative CPD activities for educators To exclude fraudulent providers To help providers improve their offer of CPD activities To improve teaching & learning
  4. 4. Introduction As teachers, it is essential that we make the process of providing feedback a positive, or at least a neutral, learning experience for the student. Agree?
  5. 5. Research on Feedback • Thorndike (1913) – Behaviourism: reinforcement and punishment – Problem: not all feedback is effective • Page (1958) – Effects of grades versus comments (repeated by Black & William, 1998) – Comments more effective – Not (always) replicated
  6. 6. Research on Feedback • Butler and Nisan (1986) – Student experience of the feedback – Grade ‘trumps’ the comment – Most effective feedback • About the task • Descriptive • Affecting both performance and motivation • Fostered interest in task for its own sake (self-regulation)
  7. 7. Research on Feedback • Meta-analysis – Kluger and DeNisi (1996) • Average positive effect of feedback on performance. • But, 38% of effect sizes were negative! – Hattie and Timperley (2007) • Analysis including +100 variables of educational achievement • Variability in effect sizes -> some types more effective • Feedback model (see next slide) • Personal comments often negative effect
  8. 8. Hattie and Timperley’s model for effective feedback Purpose To reduce discrepancies between current understandings/ performance and a desired goal The discrepancy can be reduced by: Students - Increased effort and employment of more effective strategies OR abandoning, blurring or lowering the goals Teachers - Providing challenging and specific goals and assisting learners to reach them through effective learning strategies and feedback Effective feedback answers three questions Where am I going? (the goals) Feed up How am I going? Feed back Where to next? Feed forward Each feedback question works at four levels: Task Level How well tasks are understood/ performed Process Level The main process needed to understand/ perform tasks Self-regulation level Self-monitoring, directing, and regulating of actions Self-level Personal evaluations and affect (usually positive)
  9. 9. Four Levels of Feedback • Feedback on the task • You don’t mention how the programme relates to CAPS. • This is not correct. • May promote surface learning • Feedback on the processing of the task • You may think further on how you relate objectives with activities and assessment. • May promote deeper learning • Feedback on self regulation • You have already outlined the relevance of the programme, how can you integrate that with the assessment you designed? • Stimulating autonomy, commitment • Effectiveness dependent on characteristics learner • Feedback on self • Often ineffective: uninformative, not leading to more engagement or understanding
  10. 10. Constructive Criticism Sandwich
  11. 11. Crap Sandwich?
  12. 12. Criteria for Effective Feedback • Do you agree on its importance? • Experience? Example?
  13. 13. Criterion 1: Clear Goals 1. Help clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, standards). To what extent do providers have opportunities to engage actively with goals, criteria and standards before, during and after the assessment?
  14. 14. Criterion 2: Stimulate Engagement 2. Encourage ‘time and effort’ on submitting a valuable programme. To what extent does the submission process encourage in- depth reflection and discussion about the professional development rather than compliance or surface learning?
  15. 15. Criterion 3: Actionable 3. Deliver feedback information that is specific, accurate and manageable in order to help providers self-correct and adapt professional development to educators’ needs. To what extent do your assessment and feedback processes help providers self-assess and self-correct professional development?
  16. 16. Criterion 4: Simple 4. “Keep feedback as simple as possible but no simpler” (cf. John Hattie in Sutton, Hornsey, & Douglas (2011), Feedback: The communication of praise, criticism, and advice.)
  17. 17. Criterion 5: Descriptive 5. Focus on describing observable behaviour, indicating what you observe and what you would do differently. – Not evaluative, judgemental, generalizing, exaggerating
  18. 18. Criterion 6: Stimulate self-confidence 6. Encourage positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem. To what extent do your assessments and feedback processes activate providers’ motivation to learn and be successful?
  19. 19. Criterion 7: Encourage dialogue 7. Encourage interaction and dialogue around learning (among providers and between SACE and providers). What opportunities are there for feedback dialogue around assessment tasks in your course?
  20. 20. Discussion • Feedback? Anything is missing? • Choose two criteria that you feel are most important. For each one you choose, briefly describe an incident in which that criterion was important in your evaluation practice.
  21. 21. Bales' Twelve Interactional Categories Positive reactions A1 Shows solidarity: jokes, gives help, rewards others A2 Shows tension release: laughs, shows of satisfaction A3 Shows agreement: understands, concurs, complies, passively accepts Attempted answers B1 Gives suggestion: Directs, proposes, controls B2 Gives opinion: Evaluates, analyses, expresses feelings or wishes B3 Gives information: Orients, repeats, clarifies, confirms Questions C1 Asks for information: Requests orientation, repetition, confirmation, clarification C2 Asks for opinion: Requests evaluation, analysis, expression of .feeling or wishes. C3 Asks for suggestion: Requests directions, proposals Negative reactions D1 Shows disagreement: Passively rejects, resorts to formality, withholds help D2 Shows tension: Asks for help, withdraws. D3 Shows antagonism: Deflates others, defends or asserts self.
  22. 22. Exercise • Read the extracts of feedback from previous evaluator sessions in groups of 3. • Discuss how you can improve what is written, based on characteristics of effective feedback. • Plenary discussion
  23. 23. Suggestions • What do you think of these suggestions? – Permitting students [providers] to receive formative-only feedback on their work before submitting it for summative assessment [endorsement]. This eliminates the focus on marks and encourages the students [providers] to engage with the feedback to improve their work and learning. – Providing exemplars for students [providers] with explanatory notes. Based on Brown and Glover (2005)
  24. 24. Selected References • Butler, R. and Nisan, M. (1986) ‘Effects of no feedback, task-related comments, and grades on intrinsic motivation and performance’, Journal of Educational Psychology, 78(3), pp. 210–216. • Hattie, J. and Timperley, H. (2007) ‘The power of feedback’, Review of educational research, 77(1), pp. 81–112. • Kluger, A. N. and DeNisi, A. (1996) ‘The effects of feedback interventions on performance: a historical review, a meta-analysis, and a preliminary feedback intervention theory.’, Psychological bulletin, 119(2), p. 254. • Bales, R. F. (1950), 'A set of categories for the analysis of small group interaction', American Sociological Review, 15, 257-63 • Black, P. and Wiliam, D. (1998) ‘Assessment and classroom learning’, Assessment in education, 5(1), pp. 7–74. • Shute, V. J. (2008) ‘Focus on formative feedback’, Review of educational research, 78(1), pp. 153–189. • Nicol, D. (2007) ‘Principles of good assessment and feedback: theory and practice’, In from the REAP International Online Conference on Assessment Design for Learner Responsibility, 29-31 May 2007, [online] Available from: (Accessed 22 April 2012). • Whitelock, D., Watt, S., Raw, Y. and Moreale, E. (2003) ‘Analysing tutor feedback to students: first steps towards constructing an electronic monitoring system’, Research in Learning Technology, 11(3) • Brown, E and Glover, C (2005) 'Evaluating written feedback on students' assignments’. In: Bryan, C. and Clegg, K. (eds) Innovative Assessment in Higher Education, Taylor and Francis Group Ltd, London, pp81-91.