Continuing on reflections of Chapter 7 of Hattie’s Visible Learning for Teachers, I think I have finally begun finding further evidence for the use of verbal feedback in lessons. He goes on to talk about how teachers consider feedback to be far more useful than the students do. This is a telltale sign isn’t it?
This backs up exactly what the pupils have been telling me when I have been questioning them about what they see as being the most effective feedback. Hattie explains that, “(students find teachers) feedback confusing, non-reasoned and not understandable. Worse, students often think that they “have understood the teacher’s feedback when they have not, and even when they do understand, claim to have difficulties in applying it to their learning” (Goldstein, 2006; Nuthall, 2007) (Hattie, pg. 137, 2012). Hence, giving weight to my argument that verbal feedback must be the most effective feedback given to a pupil as long as it is done correctly. Hattie talks about feedback that is given at the right time, during the lesson. Even if we are building in time the following day for children to improve and respond, this cannot replace feedback that is timely and relevant during a point at which the child is fully aware of the learning taking place as they are ‘involved’ in it. The following day may be too late, it as become ‘past’ learning no matter how relevant we may make it. I’m not saying there is no worth in feedback comments being written after learning has taken place, but if we can provide most of our feedback at pivotal learning times, this must be far more effective than anything else we do.
Hattie goes on to assert that, “Teachers see feedback more in terms of how much they give than the more important consideration of how much feedback is received by students” (p. 137, 2012). Again, I think this is the Ofsted culture we have fallen into – focusing on trying to always evidence and prove that we are acknowledging children’s work – when not really looking at children’s learning and focusing on the feedback that really matters. All it takes is a conversation with the pupils in a class to understand whether or not they can respond to the feedback they have been given – no matter what form it has taken. You can quickly determine whether or not the feedback has been effective whether it has been evidenced or not. Therefore, if learning is truly at the heart of the classroom, then surely the most effective feedback should be used, whether you can see it in the books or not – that isn’t the point. Are the children moving on in their learning? Do they really know what they need to do to improve their work and move on in their learning? Can they ‘explain’ what they will change and why?
For me, if children can confidently and articulately express their ideas around these key questions, I can tell whether or not feedback is effective in that classroom or not. Talk to the kids – look at their progress, the depth and breadth of their learning. I don’t judge on the amount of teacher marking that is in the books. Let’s go straight back to the children.
Go to your classrooms and ask your pupils what feedback they find most effective. What now needs to change? I suggest everyone goes and reads Chapter 7 in John Hattie’s Visible Learning for Teachers….infact, if you can, go read the whole book!