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10th November 2014 - Are you providing effective feedback?

Catch Up Blog

The Sutton Trust recently released a report into what makes great teaching. One of the most interesting elements of the report was the effectiveness of feedback in improving teaching. Feedback has long been evidenced as an effective approach with struggling learners.

The report’s lead author, Prof Rob Coe of the University of Durham, highlighted a number of effective, evidence-based approaches to improve teaching. Some – like effective feedback – are exactly the same high-impact approaches that work with struggling learners.

Have you cottoned on to the importance of teacher feedback to improve learning? As John Hattie says: “When feedback is combined with effective instruction, it can be very powerful in enhancing learning.” (‘Visible Learning’ 2009)

However, some teachers may now be swamped with time-consuming methods to deliver that feedback and wondering desperately if all their efforts are worthwhile. The challenge with feedback is to get the balance right – enough to trigger pupil learning and engagement but delivered in a streamlined form that does not over-burden teachers (or pupils!).
Catch Up® has a pretty neat solution to providing effective feedback. The individual session sheet (which is used to structure each 15 minute Catch Up® session) has two small boxes at the bottom for comments and follow up. If used effectively, these boxes can enhance ‘learning through success’, which is key to the Catch Up® interventions.

  1. Here are 7 top tips for streamlined feedback:

  2. Remember to give verbal comments in addition to written ones (some pupils are aural learners)

  3. Focus on the learning outcomes and make specific reference to the achievements of the learner (“Today you have learned …”)

  4. Be specific about what the pupils need to do to make more progress (“So the next steps are ..”)

  5. Link learning acquired outside the classroom to teaching back in the classroom (“So now in class you will be able to ……..”)

  6. Keep it short and snappy! Try to strike a balance - not enough feedback = learner is still unsure about how they can improve/what they have achieved; too much feedback = learner may feel they have achieved all they need and no longer need to try to improve!

  7. Communicate in language your pupils will understand. Ditch the jargon of the textbook and tap into the words and phrases that ‘get through’ to your pupils

  8. Include the pupil in the feedback process and help them find the language to sum up how well they have done; what they have learned, what they need to learn next.

Remember: effective feedback closes the gap between new learning and secure knowledge.

The author of the report, Prof Rob Coe, is the Director of the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University. He will be delivering a keynote address at our Interventions with Impact conferences in 2015. Hear from Prof Coe at our Interventions with Impact conferences next year - now booking.

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