Student Response to Feedback – Increasing Independence and Reducing Workload

I’m going to write this post a little differently. Over the next few days I am going to trial, reflect and adapt on a method of students responding to feedback in summative assessments. This post will summarise my thoughts and reflections on the process.

Feedback aims to provide students with insight that helps them to improve their performance1. It is suggested that for feedback to students to be effective, you must provide information on where they currently are and what they need to do to improve, however why can we not train students to be more independent and identify their own areas of improvement. More important than the feedback is the action the student takes on it, the aim of this method is to switch the focus to this action.

Sunday Evening – Planning and Initial Thoughts

At the moment, I mark each students assessment and write questions for every answer they didn’t achieve 100% of the marks in, as well as marking spelling and grammar. This is very time consuming and students are becoming less independent as I effectively re-write the assessment question to direct them to the knowledge required. My issue with this is that this won’t happen in the exam and I want students to link the knowledge to the actual questions, rather than my simplified questions. Students also weren’t necessarily completing the corrections with correct answers, just what they thought the question might mean, meaning more work for me to go back, re-provide feedback and make them re-correct!

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So as I sit and mark my assessments, I am writing only one thing next to each question – the number of marks they scored (and continuing to highlight basic SPAG errors).

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Tomorrow, at the start of the lesson, I will first communicate to them some key misconceptions and exam technique tips that I pulled out from the assessments. Then, I will give students their papers back and allow them to rewrite / add to / alter their answers using the textbook and their own exercise books. As a starting point, I have included the page number of the textbook that will help them to find the correct content to be included, eventually I would like to not even give them this information but I am conscious that this is a big step.

My Y11 are sitting a mock exam the lesson after which I am going to aim to mark tomorrow night in order for them to reflect upon, on Tuesday. This allows me an excellent opportunity to reflect on the strategy and adapt it a day later with any changes.

Monday Evening – The Lesson and Reflections

At our school we use an overall system of feedback called PINS (Praise, Improvements, Next Steps & Student Response), I will follow this framework to reflect on the strategy so far.

Praise

  • The most effective part of this strategy so far is the common misconceptions section. Students were reminded of key areas that confused them and commonly got wrong, this was also give to them on a sheet and helped to identify quickly some key areas that they could correct and make improvements upon.

Misconceptions

  • Students were definitely more independent. They had to think for themselves and work out how to apply the content they had found to the question.

Improvements

  • The students did great in the lesson, they worked hard at the end and acknowledged they thought it would help them in the long run. However, they really struggled to work out exactly what was wrong with the answer, therefore I need to come up with a simple and time effective solution of guiding students a little more on what they need to do to improve
  • The low ability students found this quite tough, both to work out what was wrong but also exactly how to re-answer the questions.

Next Steps

So, how can I guide the students to exactly what is wrong with their answers without doing all of the work for them. I decided to try 3 simple codes in my marking, the explanations for which, would be displayed on the board during the reflection lesson and annotated with the question mark on the exam paper as below.

Take Action

Following these adaptations, I will allow my Y11 group to trial the refined strategy tomorrow.

Tuesday Evening – The Refined Lesson and Reflections

Spanner in the works – Oftsed. I decided to continue with my lesson as planned, despite no real written feedback in the assessments! Thankfully they didn’t pop in, but it would have been interesting to hear the inspectors opinion!

So the lesson itself was successful, again key misconceptions were communicated and students were engaged with some Q&A around these areas. Students then went in to making corrections and the abbreviations were definitely helpful to students. This meant that I was able to target my support to key students around the room and really provide my time where it was most needed. Below are a few examples of the improved work.

I asked the students what they thought, expecting a backlash because they had to work more independently and work harder, but they surprised me. They preferred linking the knowledge directly to the exam questions and said they thought it would help them to link the knowledge better the next time. I am still a little unsure as to how much the lower ability can fully engage in this, but directed support certainly allowed them a little more clarity and more of my time which they so need.

I’m going to go and see our Assistant Headteacher tomorrow, once Ofsted have cleared off, to see what she thinks and how much this strategy fits in with the whole school marking and feedback policy. But, as far as I’m concerned, the students worked harder and got more out of it and I spent less time marking the assessments and this is a strategy that students will only get better at over time. So I think this one might stay.

1 http://www.evidencebasedteaching.org.au/crash-course-evidence-based-teaching/how-to-give-effective-feedback-to-your-students/

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