Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Knowing/Feedback
|“||Feedback is central to learning. Faulty feedback is one of the biggest contributors to organization, team, and personal learning disabilities. If I don't know how I am doing, I can't improve.||”|
—Jim Clemmer, author, Keynote speaker
The whole world engages in all degrees and forms of communication. Within this cycle is feedback, and it is necessary for the evaluation, modification, and betterment of a given situation. Focused learning is based on knowing what you know and don't know. To benefit from classes, students (and teachers!) need appropriate feedback on performance. We all need help in assessing existing knowledge and competence when we’re getting started and this is where feedback plays a crucial role. Frequent opportunities are needed to perform and accept suggestions in order to improve in a subject. While in school, and later in life, students need the opportunity to reflect on what they have learned, what they still need to know, and how to assess themselves. Feedback in the educational system is absolutely vital, as it serves to better the level of effectiveness of students, teachers, school systems, and eventually the communities themselves (Keil, 2005).
Teachers might immediately relate feedback to the results of student assessment, which is the traditional connection. How can students gauge knowledge gained in class if they are not assessed? Many educators feel that students focus too much only on the test score. However, more focus should be on the content and how well the material was learned, which is where feedback can make a difference. In order for the assessment to be something other than “just another grade,” immediate and relevant feedback from the teacher is vital to the student. Students need the immediate response in order to correct misconceptions, incorrect learning, and encourage long-term memory retention. According to the U.S. Department of Education (www.ed.gov), there are two distinct forms of feedback, evaluative and descriptive. The evaluative form is used strictly for assessment, without providing detailed information. Descriptive," however, provides “opportunities for the learner to make adjustments and improvements toward mastery of a specified standard” (www.ed.gov). This form of feedback is specific, relates directly to the learning, provides comparison to models and samples, and relates to performance. Frequent feedback to students during learning, as opposed to after learning, should be "specific, timely and frequent” (Wormeli, 2006).
After assessing students is another perfect opening to seek feedback as the teacher can ask detailed questions, which should lead to revision and modification of lessons. Such questions might include:
- Is the material presented in an understandable manner?
- Are the objectives and goals clear?
- What strategies help the student understand and retain certain materials?
- Is there a particular aid that supplements the main material, such as worksheets, note-taking, web quests, PowerPoint, or graphic map?
- Do the various activities enhance the main concept or do they detract?
After receiving this information from students the teacher should then reflect on the feedback and determine if there are modifications that can be made. If so, the modifications should be planned and implemented as quickly as possible. Again, as mentioned previously, specific, timely, and frequent.
In the same vein, teachers’ performance is enhanced when they are provided with feedback on student assessment. For example, in the Fuchs et al. (1994) study, it was found that students’ performance was increased when teachers were provided with assessment feedback and specific instructional recommendations to facilitate change. Another aspect of this view is the interaction and feedback of peers, which is one of the most effective tools. When teachers regularly provide feedback and assistance to one another, the opportunity to refine and improve methods or strategies is enhanced (Mallette, Maheady, & Harper, 1999). Teachers can receive strong feedback about their own instructional practices and common student misconceptions by engaging in the design and use of assessments, states Charlotte Danielson, an independent, Princeton based, consultant. “When this is done by teachers working together,” she says, “the entire intellectual capital of the school is enhanced.” (Olsen, 2005) Teachers are instrumental in identifying outmoded methods or even new methods that do not work. After all, they are “on the front line” and can evaluate how well students respond to new approaches. This also extends beyond instructional modifications and assessments, whether the issue is a school policy or scheduling problem. Providing the school administration with thorough, reflective, and useful feedback is important to the overall effectiveness of all schools.
One of the most beneficial tools for a new teacher is the peer to peer evaluation. As teachers it is important to be able to know what you are doing and how you could improve on that. If you could utilize different teachers, you would be able to have multiple views and ideas.
There are two forms of peer feedback, sometimes also referred to as peer observation. The first is “formative,” which is especially important to the new teacher. (www.ed.gov) This involves faculty members observing and assisting in the classroom to enhance the teaching skills of a novice teacher. All teachers should have the opportunity to participate, as well as mentor coaches or in-house mentors. An ideal situation would be to have all of these resources provided to new teachers. There is a need for better “formative assessments” that are given regularly in the classroom and provide quick information that lets teachers and students adjust what’s happening to promote learning.
The second medium is the summative observation and is used for promotion and other merit decisions.  This is more likely to be the formal administrator-teacher observation and feedback, which makes most teachers nervous. What is the efficacy of a formal observation if appropriate feedback is not provided? Change to desirable teacher behaviors is more likely through feedback by “…increasing use of praise, direct instruction teaching behaviors, effective use of time, and responding to incidents.” (Scheeler, Ruhl, & McAfee, 2004) Feedback from supervisors is instrumental in revising, changing, and adapting new methods and strategies and should not be dismissed or regarded as critical. Perceptions need to change in this format as well, as it can provide valuable information to teachers and a different perspective. For more information on these and other forms of feedback, please view the University of Texas website through this link: .
Formative reviews are one of the most realistic yet easiest to sit through. In formative review, you are being reviewed by your own colleagues instead of by an administrator. Formative reviews could be carried out by inviting your own colleagues into your room to watch. Also you your self could watch another teacher’s room in hopes of learning new ways of teaching. 
All of the many ways to be reviewed is to have qualified, educated, and fair reviewers. If you are able to have the same level of education, then your reviews will also be equal and reliable.
Parents of students are another area of focus for feedback. Success in the classroom can be greatly affected by the relationship with parents and this is an area of concern for all in education. Parents and schools should communicate regarding school activities, discipline codes, learning objectives, and the child’s progress. (Barrera, Warner, 2006) Reaching out to parents by keeping them up-to-date on topics and activities in the classroom can establish a viable venue for feedback. A parent who relays that their child shared an activity or lesson that was of particular interest can be invaluable. By the same token, if the parent relays that their child seemed uncertain or frustrated during a lesson, the teacher is provided with an opening for re-evaluation and change. Another area of feedback not to be dismissed is that of the principal. Through the use of feedback, the principal can determine whether the communication avenue has missed or met an objective. The willingness to listen and change, if necessary, is only possible if multiple ways to assess communication are established. (Keil, 2005) Many families consider feedback from teachers and the principal to be imperative. Feedback between the community and school administrators is very important in the level of overall health and effectiveness of student education.
Other Types of Effective Feedback
Physical education teachers have the opportunity to use different types of feedback methods that might not be as practical in a typical classroom setting. For example, when teaching motor skills, video feedback is a great way to improve body movements effectively. This type of augmented feedback allows teachers to break down each motion and improve it as it relates to the outcome of the skill. In an article by Button and Pepping, they discuss a study on different types of feedback administered while teaching throwing with the non-dominant hand. The study was broken into four groups. The first group was given video feedback every five trials, the second group was given video feedback as they wanted it, the third group was given video feedback when the second group received it, and the fourth group was not given any video feedback at all. The study found that the groups who received video feedback were able to perform the skill more effectively and efficiently than the group who received no video feedback. Additionally, the study found that of the three groups who were able to watch the video, the group who was allowed to choose when they watched the feedback was able to perform the skill at a higher level. With the information, it was concurred that the learner benefits from being in control of feedback and when it is administered. However, video feedback alone is not enough in motor learning; it is believed that “video feedback is most effective when supplemented with additional, attention-directing augmented information” (Schmidt & Lee, 1999). In addition, too much feedback can be detrimental to the learning process as it can possibly take the learner’s attention away from the actual goal of the movement or skill. This raises the issue of external versus internal attentional focus which should be studied in conjunction with effective types of feedback.
The communication cycle of feedback is of vital importance in all aspects of education and affects everyone involved. Teachers are not the only ones accountable in the feedback cycle, however they are at the core, with students. The entire education community must be willing to constantly assess, review, revise, modify, and be positive in this constant cycle of feedback.
Multiple Choice Questions
Click to reveal the answer.
When evaluating the peer-to-peer feedback, what are the essential components and how do they apply?
- Barrera, J. M. & Warner, L., (2006). Involving Families in School Events. Kappa Delta Pi Record, Winter 2006. Retrieved September 17, 2006, from WilsonWeb database.
- Chichering, A. W., Gamson, Z.F. March, 1987. “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.” AAHE Bulletin. Retreived October 20, 2006. http://www.csuhayward.edu/wasc/pdfs/End%20Note.pdf
- Dr. Chris Button. “Enhancing Skill Acquisition in Golf – Some Key Principles.” Chapter 4 – Using Movement-Related Feedback Effectively. http://www.coachesinfo.com/category.golf
- Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Hamlett, C. L., Philllips, N. B. & Bentz, J. (1994). Classwide Curriculum-Based Measurement: Helping general educators meet the challenge of student diversity. Exceptional Children, 60, 518-537.Retrieved September 17, 2006, from WilsonWeb database.
- "It Takes One to Know One." 25 Apr. 2007. http://www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/Columns/Peer-rev.html
- Keil, V. L., (2005). Communicating for Results. Principal Leadership (High School Ed.), 5, April, 2005. Retrieved September 17, 2006, from WilsonWeb database.
- Mallette, B., Maheady, L., & Harper, G. (1999). The effects of reciprocal peer coaching on preservice general educator’s instruction of student with special learning needs. Retrieved September 17, 2006, from WilsonWeb database.
- Olson, L. (2005). Purpose of Testing Needs to Shift, Experts Say. Education Week. Retrieved October 20, 2006, from http://www.edweek.org/ew/search.html?qs=assessment+feedback&x=0&y=0&ref=ew
- Scheeler, M. C., Ruhl, K. L., & McAfee, J. K. (2004). Providing Performance Feedback to Teachers: A Review. Teacher Education and Special Education, 27,396-407. Retrieved September 17, 2006, from WilsonWeb database.
- Schmidt, Richard A. and Lee, Timothy D. (1999). Motor Control and Learning: A Behavioral Emphasis, Champaign: Human Kinetics.
- Teacher Education and Special Education, 22, 201-216. Retrieved September 17, 2006, from WilsonWeb database.
- The University of Texas at Austin, Center for Teaching Effectiveness. Retrieved October 15, 2006, from http://www.utexas.edu/academic/cte/.
- Wormeli, R., Summer 2006. Accountability: Teaching Through Assessment and Feedback, Not Grading. American Secondary Education, 34 (3), Summer 2006. Retrieved September 17, 2006, from WilsonWeb database.
- U.S. Department of Education, Teachers Tools: http://www.ed.gov/teachers/how/tools/initiative/summerworkshop/searl/edlite-slide007.html Retrieved October 20, 2006.