An essential part of formative assessment is feedback to the learner, both to assess their current achievement and to indicate what the next steps in their learning trajectory should be. Through the research conducted in ‘Assessment for learning: Putting it into practice’ (AiFL) (Paul Black C. H., 2003) and discussion in our peer group, it has been recognised that there is a common problem with how children often receive feedback.
Feedback given as rewards or grades “enhances ego rather than task involvement” (Paul Black C. H., 2003) – that is, it leads students to compare themselves with others and focus on their image and status rather than encouraging them to think about the work itself and how they can improve it. Feedback by grades focuses students’ attention on their ability rather than on the importance of effort; damaging the self-esteem of low attainers. Feedback which focuses on what needs to be done can encourage all to believe that they can improve. Such feedback can enhance learning; both directly through the effort that can ensue and indirectly by support.
Such reflections on teachers’ practice, together with the impetus to seek change from the Butler Study (Butler, 1987) has encouraged many teachers to envisage how feedback might be used differently in their classrooms.
Immediate feedback strategies provide the opportunity for pupils to develop a growth mindset (Clarke, 2005) , where formative assessment is key in building pupils’ self-esteem by involving them in the learning. However, research conducted by Black and Wiliam (Paul Black D. W., 1998), proposed that overall, formative feedback was an aspect of practice that teachers find difficult. For the purpose of this inquiry, it involved finding the best way to communicate to the learners about what they had achieved and what they needed to work on next. This involved more than simply not giving a mark or a grade. It was also about engendering behaviours in the learners that would lead them to take action on the feedback and about providing a support system that fostered this approach. By checking their work and monitoring their own achievement, children are able to make choices which lead to the achievement of their learning goal (Mitchel, D., 2006).
AiFL takes place while learning is still in progress in order to enhance learning by encouraging pupils to make relevant adaptations while they are still actively engaged in the learning. Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal development supports the use of verbal feedback as it fits with a social constructivist perspective on learning that details the important role that social interactions have on children’s ability to retain information (K C Powell, 2009).
The aim of this inquiry was to monitor the effectiveness of real time feedback over various parts of the curriculum and find out not only if children attain more when given instant individual feedback but in which areas it is most noticeable. In particular, the enquiry was seeking to identify how this affected children’s motivation and attainment.