Five years ago I was starting to become concerned with the difference between marking and feedback. What was making a difference to my students’ learning and was the effort I was putting into detailed marking worth it in terms of their improvement? In reading Hattie’s Visible Learning for Teachers, Wiliam’s Embedded Formative Assessment and the pdf of The Power of Feedback (Hattie & Timperley), I developed a four-levels feedback template for use on student work.
This post is to share an updated version – I still really like this method of giving timely, actionable, goal-focused and student-owned feedback. It definitely saves me time, but puts the focus of feedback on what’s most important for the student to take the next step. I’ll keep updating, editing and adding to this post.
When giving feedback on a piece of work, I paste this at the top of the student’s assignment, give some comments in the work and check their self-assessed rubric. Before we open individual feedback, I summarise whole-class feedback.
Why present feedback this way?
Feedback addresses three questions:
- Where am I going?
- How am I going?
- Where to next?
Feedback is timely, actionable and needs to be more work for the learner than the teacher.
- Clarity of achievement so far: goal-referenced, tangible & transparent.
- Understanding “the gap” between where the learner is and where they need to go next (not necessarily the top bands)
- Timely. Using a system like this saves time in grading/giving feedback, makes it more accessible to digest (is user-friendly) and can be easily reviewed for the next time the student works towards similar goals.
- Feedback first, then grades. Not presented together, to enforce student reflection & action.
Making The Four Levels Work
- Goals and outcomes need to be clear – do students & teachers have a shared understanding of what success looks like at different levels of achievement?
- Feedback needs to be ongoing. Students are taught to self-assess in the drafting stages and feedback (not grading) given on the drafts with plenty of time to take action before submission.
- Students self-assess before submission. Even better – they can peer-assess and give feedback. If tasks are differentiated, this does not present a collusion challenge.
- Teacher gives feedback in the grid, on the front page of the work (or in an accessible place):
- Check the student’s self-assessment against descriptors
- Check the assignment, making comments only on actionable next steps – not an overwhelming number, as this can increase the perceived “gap” for students. Students who want and will take action on very detailed marking can request this in follow-up.
- Summarize feedback in the grid: task-level, process level and self-regulation level.
- Link to support resources where appropriate
- Record grades out of sight of student.
- Teacher places value on interaction with feedback by giving class time to digest & reflect
- Give “whole class” feedback on common issues and note needs for later workshops
- Students read their feedback: table and comments.
- Students synthesise this into a “feed-forwards” note to self. Showing this to the teacher and a shared agreement on the next steps releases the grade, not before.
- Next time the task type is attempted, the first thing students do is open the feedback and set achievable, specific goals to “level up” based on the feedback & feed forwards.
Reflections in Practice
I worried initially that the pushback from students would be that I wasn’t grading enough. This didn’t happen for a couple of reasons:
- We made explicit the reason for doing this and I keep no secrets about the “magic” of learning from students. I explain and demonstrate what works in learning and why we do things this way.
- Most students like seeing the next steps really clearly. We’re not all aiming for top levels right away – we’re aiming for progress upwards.
- We talk about “the gap” a lot, and our quest to close the gap in prep.
- I already know what the grades are likely to be, as we invest time in class for drafting, feedback and conferencing. I expect students to show their work and take action on feedback.
- I will happily take a piece of work back and sit with a student, giving really detailed marking and justification if they request it. This rarely happens and it is usually one or two who are working at the very top of the rubric. This is far more efficient and effective doing acres of marking for large classes, the bulk of which won’t have an impact.
Hattie, J. & Timperley, H. (2007) The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research. Vol. 77 no 1 (pp 81-112). https://www.jstor.org/stable/4624888 (includes diagram above)
Wiggins, G. (2012) Seven Keys to Effective Feedback. Educational Leadership Magazine. Vol. 70 no. 1. (pp 10-16). www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept12/vol70/num01/Seven-Keys-to-Effective-Feedback.aspx (and related: EL Takeaways Poster http://inservice.ascd.org/seven-things-to-remember-about-feedback )
Dylan Wiliam Centre: Ten Feedback Techniques That Make Students Think (poster). https://www.dylanwiliamcenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/10-Feedback-Techniques.pdf
More Resources on Feedback & Grading