Still in chapter 7 we read about the perceptions of students in regard to feedback. The research that Hattie has undertaken establishes what we already know (if we have actually talked to our pupils). He asserts that, “the major message seems to be that students-regardless of achievement level-prefer teachers to provide more feedback that is forward looking, related to the success of the lesson, and ‘just in time’ and ‘just for me’, ‘about my work’ (and not’about me’) (Hattie, 2012, p. 147). He further justifies that, “It is not ‘sufficient simply to tell a student where they have gone wrong-misconceptions need to be explained and improvements for future work suggested’ (p. 147).
Here is more evidence for the effectiveness of verbal feedback. Based on pupil perceptions at our school, children explain how verbal feedback alongside written feedback helps them to improve their work. They explain that quite often they will read the comments and try to make corrections, however very often they aren’t sure of exactly what they need to do in order to improve.
For instance, if you are trying to get a pupil to use a wider range of prepositional openers or adverbial phrases, but they don’t remember how to apply these in their work, they will look for other ways in which they can ‘up level’ their work without focusing on these key targets. These are the pupils who week after week may have the same target written in their books.
However, when you give these pupils specific and clear verbal feedback about their work, they are then given the opportunity to discuss their work with you, clarifying exactly how prepositional openers and adverbial phrases work to the best effect. With the teacher present, they can try to ensure success and explore other ways they can continue to focus on refining and improving their work. Through a coaching dialogue with pupils, one on one, while they write down the key points (such as next steps, things that have been done well, etc), pupils are able to make visible progress within the lesson.
I have noticed a marked difference in children’s ability to talk about their next steps, especially in writing, when they have been given verbal feedback. They can explain how and why the techniques discussed will improve their work and how they can then apply them to future writing. Whereas pupils who have been asked to improve their writing based on only written comments in their books, cannot converse to the same depth and understanding as those who have had a verbal feedback session.
It is all in the facts and evidence…
Go talk to the pupils and test out the theory…