5. “Good scales, good line, but some points missing!! Nice and neat.”
6. “Good standard. No title. neat writing.” 8/10
7. “Good axes, points and line."
8. “Well done, you handed it in! Please finish it now. Keep this improvement up.”
Learning Centred Feedback in Practice. Geoff Petty
Ian Black and Dylan Wiliam of Kings College London reviewed many hundreds of
research studies and showed that formative
assessment has more effect on learning than any other single factor (including prior learning).*
summarises the advice suggested by Black and Wiliam, and then goes further to
add some concrete suggestions for implementing their ideas.
Effective formative assessment has its
most positive effect on low attainers, and few teachers adopt good practice.
Avoid grading. Grades are consistently found to demotivate
low attainers. They also fail to
challenge high attainers, often making them complacent. So avoid giving a grade or mark except where
absolutely necessary. This is not easy
to do on some courses. However it is
rarely necessary, and almost never desirable, to grade every piece of work.
Use self-assessment: Ask
students to self-assess, providing them with self-assessment criteria or
helping them to develop their own. See
examples below. Self-assessment has
been shown to double attainment if it is used very frequently. It encourages the reflective habit of mind
essential for improvement, ensures students take responsibility for their own
learning, focusses attention on criteria for success, and increases effort and
persistence. It should be followed by
action planning and the action plan points should be followed up, it then
generates excellent evidence for the Key Skill ‘Improve Own Learning and Performance’.
Give learning-centred feedback “Give a medal and a mission”
student’s present attainment however low, without blame or disapproval.
improving this by giving a:
what the student can do or has done well. Effort persistence and other good study habits can be included in the
Mission: what the student needs to do to
improve. This can be an improvement to
the existing work, or a target (feed-forward task) for the next piece of work.
feedback on the following:
e.g. provide positive comments on the completion of tasks, strengths,
criterion-referenced achievement etc. If teachers set mastery tasks this provides opportunities to give
positive feedback to the very lowest attainers.
Meeting personal targets. If students are encouraged to
self-assess and to set themselves targets for improvement, then the teacher can
comment on a student’s progress towards these targets.
Improvements effected by the student can be
positively commented on.
Opportunities for improvement and constructive criticism can be
Feedback proformas can help teachers give such feedback in
practice, examples are shown below. In
each case they need to be larger than shown to allow space for writing.
• Use the ‘praise sandwich’ That is: praise;
constructive criticism; then praise again.
• Use Mastery
Learning. This is a series of easy tests
on key material set every four or six weeks, with retests for those students
who do not pass. It takes time to set
this up, but it works very well. See the ‘Mastery Learning’ chapter in Teaching Today.
• Use formative teaching
methods that ‘find
faults, fix, and and follow up’ see the handout called ‘formative teaching
methods’ which you can download from
www.geoffpetty.com. These ideas were
subsequent to the research review but are clearly linked with it.
Why not give
assignments, homeworks, classwork etc with a feedback proforma like these,
(only with more space). This helps the
teacher give learning-focussed rather than grading-focussed feedback. Such proformas are not new, but are
under-used. Make sure they are bigger
than shown to allow space for writing.
Generic assessment criteria
as an example, is a set of negotiated criteria used to assess essays. Any generic skill could be developed in the
same way, e.g. electronic circuit design, painting, lab report writing, etc.
for criteria first. They will come up
with most of them, and will then really ‘own’ them. Follow this with a discussion on which criteria really count and
why. This is very helpful to clarify
good practice and your expectations. Each criterion needs to be discussed,
explained, and justified to the class. (I do not pretend that the criteria
below are the only, or the best criteria for essay writing, you must decide
then used repeatedly, perhaps for every essay written on the course. Students hand in the work already
self-assessed, then the teacher assesses against the same criteria. Ideally no grade is awarded, or if it is, it
is given some weeks after this informative feedback. Black and Wiliam’s research review shows that if you grade
students pay attention only to this, and don’t read your feedback.
Ruth Beard in
“Teaching in Higher Education” claims that such generic criteria greatly
improve importance over a course even without self-assessment. Black and Wiliam showed that self-assessment
and informative feedback were amongst the most important things a teacher did.
grids should all be much bigger in practice, to allow more space for comments.
and Wiliam (1998) “Assessment and Classroom Learning” in the journal
Assessment in Education.
separate handout for explanation on mastery tasks
Did you relate each of your
arguments to the essay question?
Did you give arguments both
‘for’ and ‘against’ both:
The proposition in the
Any major points or
conclusions you made?
Did you give enough
evidence, examples, and illustrations for each of your arguments?
Did you prioritise the
arguments for and against, and evaluate them?
Did you draw a justified
conclusion related directly to the essay title?
Improvements needed for
for the next essay
Teacher, peer, or self-assessment
Methods: aim to
make these appropriate, and as simple or elegant as possible.
The principles or formulae used are
Working: aim to
make working clear; complete; easy to follow; stating principles or formulae
used where necessary.
taken: aim to check your work for errors, and present work neatly.
• It’s okay if you don’t fully understand a concept first
time, learning takes time.
• If this work is graded, aim to beat your own record, not
• What counts is whether you understand the problem and
solution, not whether you made any silly slips
• If you got something wrong that’s fine. It’s how we learn.
• You will learn from mistakes if you find out how to
do it without mistakes next time, and really understand this.
Corrective work on this exercise
(Find someone with an A for …….. and
ask them to show and explain their work.)
Target for your next piece of work
Freely based on
‘Using Assessment to Raise Achievement in Mathematics’ QCA Nov 2001
Opportunities for Development
Below are examples of
assignment-specific assessment proformas:
Plan for improving Health and
I like your ideas on diet exercise and entertainment. Most points well covered.
A well designed table! Some rest would help. Read assignment
Purpose for this plan
You explain this well referring to evidence. Quite the best bit of your assignment.
I notice some of your work is neater, keep this up.
Be better at checking my spelling
You have definitely achieved an improvement here Simon.
A diagram of the heart:
accurate, neat, and
Explanation of how the
valve sequence, and bloodflow.
Vocational Skills – Care
Self-assessment of key criteria
for written work
Below is a list of some of the
most important skills needed when completing any written tasks. These skills will help you achieve your Care
Modules and will also help you in the future whenever you need to find out
information for yourself and present it well.
Please think about each skill
carefully and assess how well you think you do. Then score each one as follows
Using only relevant information
Writing in your own words
Using the library
Using computers and the internet
Keeping a record of sources of
information eg. books, internet sites, etc.
Finding pictures, articles,
leaflets, etc to add interest to your work
Handing work in on time
Which of these skills do you need
to improve most?
Learning Target for next piece of
Assessment of Writing
think about each skill carefully and assess how well you think you do. Then score each one as follows. Please hand
in your plan with your finished work.