In Jenni Aberli’s latest blog, From Teacher Monologue to Academic Dialogue: Engaging Students in Content Conversations, she highlights the need for more dialogic conversations in classrooms in which all parties have the opportunity to be active speakers and listeners. One consideration Ms. Aberli offers in regard to creating a dialogic environment is for teachers to provide feedback on both the content of students’ discussion and the behaviors they bring to the process. In Jackie Acree Walsh’s book, Questioning for Formative Feedback: Meaningful Dialogue to Improve Learning (2022), Walsh notes that “dialogue not only reveals student thinking but also results in ‘visible learning.’” It must not be dismissed, then, the impact dialogue between students can have as it is an invaluable source of both feedback for the teacher and for students to get “in-the-moment” feedback from the teacher. When feedback occurs routinely, students feel safe to take risks, think more deeply about what they’re learning, and eventually become self-regulated learners.
Studies show both dialogue and feedback have a high impact on student achievement. Hattie’s (2008) research on visible learning found that dialogue had an effect size of 0.82 (Carnell, 2000, as cited in Walsh, 2022) while feedback has an effect size of 0.75 (Hattie & Timperley, 2007, as cited in Walsh, 2022). However, according to Kentucky Department of Educations’ Model Curriculum Framework, despite its significant impact on learning, feedback is “one of the most underutilized instructional practices.” We must ask the question, How can teachers create a culture of feedback in their classroom?
Based on the Collaborative for Teaching and Learning’s Adolescent Literacy Model, “In order to cultivate a growth mindset and desire for improvement in students, teachers must be consistent and deliberate in providing feedback on student work beyond a letter grade or percentage.” It is important that feedback be provided in the spirit of learning during the learning process, or as part of the formative assessment process, rather than seen as a penalty for lack of understanding on summative assessments. When timely and targeted feedback is provided, there should be an opportunity for the recipient to revise their work and deepen their learning. “Research studies clearly show that when students get prompt, specific, and corrective feedback on the results of their thinking, they are more likely to continue processing, make corrections, and persist until successful completion” (Hattie, 2012, as cited in Sousa, 2022).
The Model Curriculum Framework lists three key characteristics of meaningful feedback:
- Timely- occurs while students are working towards mastery of the learning goals
- Specific – emphasizes areas of strength as well as specific areas to improve upon
- Actionable – provides guidance and direction through questioning, reminders, or specific suggestions
The Model Curriculum Framework also highlights three levels of feedback that, according to research, have the greatest potential to improve student learning when used in conjunction with one another (adapted from Almarode & Vandads, 2018; Hattie & Clarke, 2019; Hattie, 2012, as cited in Model Curriculum Framework, 2023). It is important to note that task feedback is often easier for students to apply to their thinking, but students benefit from process and self-regulation feedback as they engage in more rigorous tasks that require more conceptual thinking. When students begin to engage in self-regulation feedback, they are better able to manage their own learning and become more confident in their abilities to progress in the learning event. Below is a table with descriptions and useful prompts for each level of feedback
- Also known as corrective feedback
- Provides students with information about the accuracy and completeness of a task
- Supports the acquisition, storing, reproduction and use of knowledge
- Supported by teacher modeling, use of examples and non-examples, as well as clear explanations of procedural steps, key features and context
- Most useful when students are engaged in surface learning of new content to develop students’ understanding of the content, ideas and terms
- How well has the task been performed? Is it correct or incorrect?
- Does the answer meet the success criteria?
- How can the student elaborate on the answer?
- What did the student do well?
- Where did the student go wrong?
- What is the correct answer?
- What other information is needed to meet the criteria?
- Provides feedback to students on their thinking and the processes and/or strategies used to complete a task
- Supports students in making connections and use of multiple strategies for error detection
- Focuses on relationships between ideas and students’ strategies for evaluating the reasonableness of an answer or solution
- Provides cues about different strategies for approaching a problem or task
- More effective than task-level feedback for deepening learning and creating understanding
- Most useful when students develop proficiency of the specific content, ideas and terms
- What are the strategies needed to perform the task? Are there alternative strategies that can be used?
- What is wrong and why?
- What strategies did the student use?
- What is the explanation for the correct answer?
- What other questions can the student ask about the task?
- What are the relationships with other parts of the task?
- What other resources are provided that can help the student?
- What is the student’s understanding of the concepts/knowledge related to the task?
- Focuses attention on the students’ use of self-regulatory skills and promotes metacognition through self-verbalization, self-questioning and self-reflection
- Fosters students’ ability to know what to do when they approach a new and different problem, are stuck or have to apply their understanding in a new way
- Enhances self-evaluation skills, generates greater confidence to engage further in the task and helps students decide what to do for the best outcome
- Appropriate for students who have reached a deep level of conceptual understanding and are armed with multiple strategies as they transfer their learning to more rigorous tasks
- How can I monitor my own work?
- How can I reflect on my own learning?
- What further doubts do I have regarding this task?
- How does this compare with …?
- What does all this information have in common?
- What learning goals and/or success criteria have I achieved?
- How have my ideas changed?
- Can I now teach someone else how to …?
(Model Curriculum Framework, 2023, p. 250-251)
As educators, our hope is to instill a desire of lifelong learning in our students. By engaging students in dialogic conversations, setting clear expectations, and providing effective feedback, we can create a thriving culture of learning that will promote success beyond the classroom.
“Learners need endless feedback more than they need endless teaching.”
– Grant Wiggins, Less Teaching and More Feedback?, ASCD
Kentucky Department of Education. (2023, September). Model Curriculum Framework.
Sousa, D. A. (2022). How the brain learns. SAGE Publications.
Walsh, J. A. (2022). Questioning for formative feedback: Meaningful dialogue to improve learning. ASCD.
Cover photo retrieved from images.all4ed.org on October 24, 2023