Marking and Feedback, Student voice

How can effective feedback develop student leadership? 

Sam Walsh-English Teacher and Year 7 Progress Leader. 

Follow him on Twitter: @_MrWalsh_

In my first couple of years as a teacher, I always believed that feedback and marking were the same thing. I felt that these terms were used interchangeably and so, when I was spending hours and hours deep marking books in scribbly red pen, I always assumed that this was just part and parcel of being a teacher.

This assertion is incorrect though. Feedback has various facets to it, but, in its vaguest form, can be defined as ‘some action taken by an external agent to provide information regarding some aspect of one’s task’. Because of this, I set about creating a new way to provide feedback in my Year 8 English class, which would:

1) Dramatically increase the attainment and progress of my pupils; and

2) Dramatically decrease the time I spent marking.

I tried various guises to achieve this: verbal communication which students captured via a pro forma they then stuck in their book; a complex system of highlighters and re-written targets but, the way that proved most successful (100% of students improved their work by half a GCSE grade or more) was a combination of teaching instruction and peer assessment.

As the classroom teacher, I empowered students to accurately assess another’s piece of work, through a series of models and broken down success criteria. Following this, students formed their own triad in which to do the same on their own, and others’ work. After this process had taken place – and I dedicated two lessons to this – students then had a range of written and verbal feedback on their work, ready to re-draft for a final time prior to my final assessment. This final assessment was merely summative, as students had already undertaken a lengthy process of active and independent reflection prior to submission.

It was amazing to see the numerical increase in a student’s progress, but also their developing leadership as they were empowered to be a crucial part of the teaching and learning process.

If you would like to read the full dissertation report following this study, it can be found here: goo.gl/bx1Sai. 

Enjoy.

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