Written Feedback in English Teachers‘ Practices and Cognition
Abstract This study deals with written feedback on pupils’ written texts and teachers’ assessment practices and cognition. Providing effective, written feedback is a complex process that requires knowledge of the competency goal and development of methods for reducing the gap between pupil’s current status and pupil’s preferred state. Effective feedback is feedback that enhances pupils’ learning. In order to enhance learning feedback should contain information related to the following questions: “Where am I going?”; “How am I going?”; “Where to next?” The answers to these questions provide feed up, feed back and feed forward. The three questions must be connected in order to result in pupils’ greater achievement. The data in this study consists of written feedback collected from teachers at an upper secondary school. The main objective of the study was to examine what kind of written feedback teachers provide to help their pupils further. The feedback texts were analyzed according to Kronholm-Cederberg’s Response Triangle, divided into global and local text levels, and the terms defined above. Eight semi-standardized interviews were also conducted in order to examine teachers’ assessment practices and cognition. It is my experience that teachers’ responses contained elements at both the local and global text levels with the exception of context at the global level. In terms of the three questions mentioned above, most responses contained clear information about feed back and feed forward, however, there is a lack of feed up (goals) in most of the written feedback texts. This is unfortunate since feed up must be clear in order for pupils to develop further and increase their learning. This study also showed that teachers in general know much about assessment. However, there seems to be a tension between teachers’ knowledge and their practices. Teachers do not always tend to do what they know and believe.
Preface This study deals with formative assessment, more specifically with written feedback in English and teachers’ thoughts about assessment. I became very interested in the topic during my master’s degree program at NTNU. At that time, I became aware of the educational significance of discovering what my pupils know and what they think in order to give them relevant feedback that could lead to better learning outcomes and improvements in my teaching. Hegel once said that nothing great in this world has been accomplished without passion. I would like to think that this is my passion. Working with motivated, dedicated teachers has inspired me to attempt to make learning more effective for my pupils. At the same time, I see classrooms lacking formative assessment, and, in my opinion, to establish such practice will require significant change. Currently, secondary education places too much emphasis on summative assessment, and a shift away from testing and exams would improve the learning environment and increase pupils’ learning and motivation. The attention must focus on continuous and systematic feedback. Working in an upper secondary school, I find that providing feedback to pupils cannot be a straightforward process. There are many factors to consider which makes feeding back demanding. One needs to consider the number of pupils each teacher has. It is not uncommon for a class to consist of 30 pupils, thus making it very challenging to provide individual feedback. Finding enough time and space during a busy school day can also prove challenging. However the intention of feedback is clear. Teachers should always provide constructive feedback that moves learning forward. Effective feedback, as I see it, should shape future learning and outcomes. High quality feedback should be a fundamental aspect in the learning process of all pupils. Two years after I started my master’s program, the time has come to thank all those who have helped me along the way. First, I would like to thank