Feedback for Continuous Improvement of Instruction, Part 2

Quality, well thought out feedback is one of the most important variables in improving student achievement

In our last post on feedback for continuous improvement, we discussed how the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model was designed to maximize feedback. In this post, we’ll explore how teachers can use feedback to improve student performance.

In Classroom Instruction that Works, Marzano (2001) and others detailed the research showing that more feedback and less teaching will result in greater student learning. Quality, well thought out feedback is one of the most important variables in improving student achievement.

What does quality feedback look like?

• The feedback must be goal related. The information you give students must objectively describe the gap between where the student currently is and the learning goal.
• You should provide students with an example of what success looks like.
• Your feedback must be actionable, specific, and user friendly.
• Your feedback must be timely, ongoing, and consistent.
• Students should have an opportunity for self-feedback, and feedback on the instruction

In the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Model, Design Question 1, Communicating Learning Goals and Scales (Rubrics), is designed specifically to provide feedback to students. Ironically, learning goals, scales and feedback for most teachers are new concepts. I get more comments from teachers wondering why we need to create learning goals and scales, yet research bears out its vital importance!

Learning goals help formalize feedback.

Writing the learning goal in its proper form—“students will understand” or “student will be able to”—and having students personalize the learning goal in their own words allows students to take ownership of their learning. Instead of completing learning activities and assignments out of compliance, students do so to move up the learning progression and accomplish their learning goal. Plus, if you are going to provide feedback for student performance, you must have a standard to compare it to. The learning goal provides the needed standard.

Developing a learning progression (scale) provides students a map for accomplishing their learning goal and a model of what success looks like. The learning progression allows both student and teacher to know how much progress the student has made towards the learning goal, and provides teachers a framework for giving transparent feedback. It illustrates the gap between where the student is and where they should be, allowing for accurate self-feedback.

If the learning goal is referred to often, and students are asked to track progress on the learning progression, then feedback will be timely, ongoing, and consistent. If teachers don’t offer feedback in a timely fashion, students can’t tell what they can do to improve.

In Design Question 2, Element 13, Reflecting on Learning, students think about what they have learned or their thinking processes (metacognition) for learning it. They are providing their own feedback on their thinking or learning. It is important for teachers to ensure that students use sound judgment, and are accurate in providing themselves with this feedback.

Lastly, teachers should ask students for feedback on their instruction. Did the instruction move them up the learning progression? How could it have been improved? Not only does this provide teachers with a chance to model how to accept and use feedback, but it might provide teachers with some insights into improving their pedagogy!

Speaking of improving your pedagogy, join your fellow teachers, many of whom will be presenting on their experiences using the Marzano Model, at our summer conference: Building Expertise 2013. Register now!

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