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Feedback & monitoring pupil progress

Using assessment to understand pupils’ strengths, weaknesses and progress, and how to address these through feedback.

Introduction

Providing high-quality feedback to pupils is integral to effective teaching. Equally, gathering feedback on how well pupils have learned a topic is important in enabling teachers to address any misunderstanding and provide the right level of challenge in future lessons.

This page is an overview of current evidence on how to use assessment to understand pupils’ strengths, weaknesses and progress, and addressing these through feedback. It draws on:

  • relevant topics from our Teaching and Learning Toolkit;
  • findings from the EEF-funded projects that directly relate to feedback and monitoring pupil progress; and
  • other evidence-based resources we hope will be useful.

Guidance Reports

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Feedback

Feedback

Primary & Secondary

To be published on 5th June 2020

Launching in about 6 months

Toolkit strands

Evidence Summary

Our Toolkit suggests that the provision of high-quality feedback can lead to an average of eight additional months’ progress over the course of a year. Feedback can take a range of different forms, including written feedback in the form of marking, oral feedback and peer feedback, while a teacher may also choose to vary the frequency, timing, focus and tone.

However, while the average impact on learning is high, feedback interventions also have a very wide range of effects. Indeed, studies show that in some cases feedback can have negative effects on attainment. How effective a particular type of feedback is can be dependent on a number of factors, including the ability of the learner, how motivated the learner is, the type of task being undertaken, and the learning goals set. It is therefore important to very carefully consider how to deliver feedback. It is also crucial that teachers do not regard feedback as a ‘silver bullet’ that will dramatically improve learning on its own. In order for feedback to be effectively delivered, several other components of good teaching and learning are required (such as considered planning, clear goal setting and effective assessment).

The EEF has published seven reports on projects that aim to improve feedback practice. Projects such as Powerful Learning Conversations, the Anglican Schools Partnership for Effective Feedback, Quest and Hampshire Hundreds, were funded as they included promising evidence related to feedback practice. However, they struggled to ensure that their interventions were delivered consistently.

As a result of these studies and the lessons that were learnt about implementation, we funded the Embedding Formative Assessment programme to test the impact of a pack of professional development resources designed to embed the use of formative assessment strategies across a school. In this intervention delivered by SSAT, Schools received detailed resource packs to run monthly workshops, known as Teacher Learning Communities, and teachers conducted structured peer observations focusing on the use of formative assessment strategies. Students in the Embedding Formative Assessment schools made the equivalent of two months’ additional progress, with attainment measured using Attainment 8 GCSE scores.

EEF Funding Priorities

  • Approaches that will help teachers to provide specific feedback in a more time-efficient manner (both in terms of the time taken for students to receive feedback and the time taken for teachers to mark work)
  • Programmes that provide CPD to teachers to improve their approach to formative feedback
  • Approaches that focus on how pupils receive feedback (both in terms of preparing pupils emotionally to receive feedback and capitalising on research from cognitive science to deliver effective feedback).
  • Approaches that adapt feedback to suit different learner characteristics, task types and goals.
  • Programmes that encourage pupils to act on feedback. 

Promising Projects

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ReflectED Metacognition

Rosendale Primary School

grade promising project

Using technology to teach pupils strategies they can use to monitor and manage their own learning

Cost
Evidence Strength
Impact (months)
+4
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Projects

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Digital Feedback in Primary Maths

St Margaret’s Primary School, Kyra Teaching Scho

Testing the use of diagnostic assessments and digitally recorded verbal feedback in maths for primary school pupils

Cost
Evidence Strength
Impact (months)
0
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Resources

The EEF has produced an interactive, online guide to Assessing and Monitoring Pupil Progress , which outlines the principles of good assessment to ensure that the evidence put to use in schools has the best possible chance of targeting the right pupils at the right time.

The EEF published in 2016 a major report, ‘A Marked Improvement?’, reviewing the evidence on written marking. It concludes that the evidence is limited, but some findings emerge that could aid school leaders and teachers aiming to create an effective, sustainable and time-efficient marking policy. These include making targets as specific and actionable as possible, providing time to allow pupils to consider and respond to marking, and minimising how often grades are awarded so that pupils pay more attention to teachers’ formative comments. Some forms of marking, including acknowledgement marking, are unlikely to enhance pupil progress. The report suggests that a mantra might be that schools should ‘mark less in terms of the number of pieces of work marked, but mark better’.

Since publishing this report we have funded two project – FLASH Marking and Digital Feedback in Primary Maths - which aim to reduce the workload of marking and make the feedback to pupils more timely, focused and informative.

EEF will be publishing a guidance report on feedback in 2020.