In line with The Scottish Attainment Challenge (2015), formative assessment is fundamental in supporting equity in education, providing young people with opportunities to achieve and attain. Essential to this is the concept that what happens within the classroom, in the ‘here and now’, is where key learning occurs (Black and Williams, 1998). In this regard, formative assessment can prove key in gaining the attention of the pupil, engaging them in their strengths and opportunities whilst they are immersed in the learning. Teachers continually assess on a daily as well as lesson-by-lesson basis, through observations of pupil engagement, discussion and jotter work and these are all significant opportunities for formative feedback to take place.
“High quality interactions between learners and staff lie at the heart of assessment as part of learning,” (Scottish Executive, 2008). Pupils learn best when they are actively engaged in feedback and are considered in constructing targets for improvement. In considering this, my group and I thought it would be beneficial to observe the use of immediate verbal feedback in the classroom whilst making ongoing observations of the implications that it had on future pupil work. We were all in agreement that verbal and written feedback were essential and beneficial, however were interested to ascertain an understanding of the difference, if any, in pupils’ application of constructive feedback when given in a verbal format against written feedback.
Coinciding with our interest in the impact on pupil learning, was the notion that assessment, in the broad sense, can have an undesired impact on pupil motivation. “…assessment feedback teaches low-achieving pupils that they lack “ability,” causing them to come to believe that they are not able to learn,” (Black and William, 1998:4). We were keen to identify if the use of immediate verbal feedback would have any effect on pupil engagement and motivation. The thought process behind this was that giving immediate feedback could allow pupils’ the opportunity to make any changes outlined to support the achievement of the lesson success criteria prior to ‘submitting’ their work. Likewise, we thought that an additional focus on providing immediate feedback would assist in overall pupil understanding.
The aim of this enquiry was to identify if providing immediate verbal feedback highlighted any indication that pupils understood and applied the feedback more than when written feedback was provided subsequent to the learning activity.