Martin Kelly


Cardinal Newman High

  • Assessment For Learning

What Happens When Pupils Are Provided With Real Time Formative Feedback?


Feedback is a crucial component of formative assessment which Black and Wiliam (2001) define as, “all activities undertaken by teachers and students in assessing themselves, providing information to be used as feedback to modify the teaching and learning activities in which they are engaged.” (Black and Wiliam, 2001, p.2). It follows from this that there are implications for both teachers and pupils in the use of formative assessment. As Sarris (2017) states, formative assessment “leads to a change in behaviour for both student and teacher.” Stenger (2014) points out that that there can, essentially, be good and bad feedback. Badly presented feedback can be an impediment to learning and may adversely affect learners’ morale. Looney (2010) provides a good example of “need to work harder” as inadequate feedback, as it fails to inform the pupil what he requires to do to improve.


There is extensive evidence in academic literature in support of the positive effects of formative assessment. Advantages associated with it, according to Black and Wiliam, include learning gains, particularly in relation to low attainers. It flags to learners specific problems with their work and gives them both a clear understanding of what is lacking and realistic targets for putting it right. It also avoids the pitfalls associated with summative assessment, such as over-emphasis on grades and a culture of competition between pupils instead of genuine learning. Given all this, the aims of this enquiry are to assess if pupils’ confidence actually improves following real time feedback and to assess if pupils’ understanding also improves.

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