Monday, 18 January 2016

Feedback Reflection


I have been doing some further reading and reflecting on effective feedback.
It's too easy to say yes, I know about this... but am I actually doing it? Do I give effective feedback to other learners - peers, in classrooms, and myself?  I am refocusing as I look again at effective feedback.

John Hattie's and Helen Timperley's three questions are a useful prompt for me to use. They are in simple language so can be used with learners of all ages and are easy to remember. Learning Intentions and Success Criteria mean the learner knows what they are aiming at.  The feedback can then direct them towards the Success Criteria.

Feedback is best if it is in the zone of the desired effects or proximal development - the Goldilocks zone. Just beyond where the learner is but still attainable. When a learner gets feedback that specifically gives the next steps on a learning journey they have an opportunity to implement these - a distinct 'to do'. When they also have a growth mindset then the possibilities are limitless. Hard work is required but is exciting to see in action - both in myself and others.



growth mindset is an important part of feedback being received, understood and actioned.  A learner needs to see it for what it is - a specific guide to learning better rather than an attack on them as a person. With a growth mindset I am not challenged as a person when someone critiques my learning or thinking but rather it is an opportunity to learn and do better. I have found a growth mindset to be easy to give cognitive assent to. In some areas I have a growth mindset but in some whole areas of my life or with specific learning, it is more of a struggle. I have had to master and am still learning how to encourage and practise a growth mindset and sometimes I have needed outside help to get there.

... be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Romans 12:2

Younger learners tend to naturally have a growth mindset and will share both the fact that they do not know something and then the excitement of learning, perhaps with a "High five, Miss".  When we are unwilling to share that we 'do not know' then we are missing out. We can't celebrate the successes openly as we did not share the initial lack.

We can learn to have a fixed mindset through experiences and what we believe about ourselves because of the experiences, such as "I am dumb", I can't read", "I'm not as smart as..."etc.  These beliefs need to be challenged and overcome to allow the growth mindset to be released in a learner.  A learner often needs others to support and encourage so as to be able to do this. Remember your favourite teacher or someone you learnt a lot from - what did he or she do that meant you enjoyed learning?

Tightening the feedback cycle by +Chris Betcher was very helpful to give an overview of feedback and to show links to research. It includes some examples of feedback using google docs for both chromebooks and ipads. Effective feedback on a google doc allows the time frame to be quick as it is so simple to do and can be happening at the same time or very soon after a student is working on a doc.  This means there can be many feedback cycles that are specifically targeted where the learner needs it.

Learner self management is needed as the feedback cycles need to be throughout a learning process. Those learners wanting feedback on the day/night before an assignment is due to be handed in - often a model Secondary school learners follow when they leave things to the last minute - are doing themselves a disservice. I can do this too when I do just-in-time creation of a learning object - perhaps not even giving myself time for reflection and feedback to myself let alone from anyone else.

Learners need to be trained to seek feedback early in the process, learn and seek more feedback - I certainly need to learn more in this area. Do we give learners this agency or do we, as teachers 'do it to them'? When they are making decisions for themselves as learners, are they making the best decisions re feedback?

The expectation is that as effective feedback is given and when the soil is right - a growth mindset - then a learner grows in metacognitive skills. They know how they learn and can be learning through the process as well as doing better in a similar area next time.

Of course in any given situation I need to have a mandate and an agreement to give and receive feedback. This can and is a reciprocal situation for all learners - as a teacher or facilitator there is generally powerful learning when I give learners the mandate to give me feedback. I am a learner too.

In many situations, for myself, the agreement is there in principle. But is the practise?




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