Home > Maths, Pedagogy, Teaching > Engaging with Written Feedback

Engaging with Written Feedback

During February the #blogsync topic was on engaging and motivating pupils. In school, as a department, we were looking at ways to engage pupils with written feedback and to motivate them to interact with that feedback and attempt the challenges set. I figured that these two things would dovetail nicely and the idea behind this post was formed.

Much has been written on written feedback before and if you are looking for ways to improve your own I would highly recommend reading the four posts on the topic written by Mark Miller (@GoldfishBowlMM on twitter) they can be found at http://thegoldfishbowl.edublogs.org/category/feedback/ . I would also recommend this by David Didau (@learningspy on twitter) http://learningspy.co.uk/2013/01/26/work-scrutiny-whats-the-point-of-marking-books/

Within our department we have been developing our strategy on written feedback over the last few years, and around Christmas-time one of my colleagues came up with a way to personalise feedback and set questions on a computerised from which could then be printed and used as a starter for the next lesson with the class. He also set it up to include pupil’s names via a mail merge. This would provide the pupils with feedback on their work and set them a challenge which either focused on a skill they were struggling with or set them a challenge which would push them to the next level. Our marking usually ties in to the mini assessments, so these would tie in there as well. Before this we had been using marking stickers that had a box for students to comment in on it, but this was replaced by the question. Here is a picture of the previous sticker (the size would be 1/4 of an A4 page):



And here is the new look one (A5):


I wanted to run a check on the effectiveness of the new system, so prior to switching I surveyed three of my classes with the following question:

“On a scale of 1 to 5, where one is the lowest and 5 the highest, how much does marking of books help you with your maths.”

I had all responses from 1 to 5 and the mean was 2.7 (1dp), unsurprisingly my top set year 8 had a mean of 3.5 which was much higher than the other classes.

I ran with the new idea for a term and re asked the same question. The results were slightly higher, this time the mean was 3.2 (3.9 for said year 8 class).
The data suggests that there is an overall increase in engagement with written feedback. I looked through some of the slips to see if anyone had drastically changed, and there were a few people who put 4’s that had put 2s, and a few who had jumped up one, so I asked them why they thought their perception of the helpfulness of marking had changed. There were two main answers that they all seemed to give a variant of. “Because it’s much easier to read when it’s typed,” and “There is a question to do”. During this time my HOD did a marking scrutiny and commented that my marking was much easier to read when typed, so I have taken this on board and intend to use consistently in future. Most of the team are using it now and we are going to implement it across the whole team next year to bring consistency to our marking.

I’m under no illusion that these surveys constitute concrete proof that the new marking strategy has improve the engagement with the written feedback in my classes, but all pupils are now answering the questions which certainly shows they are reading it. This is different to before where the higher ability pupils would write excellent comments, the lower ability pupils would write something like “thanks” and middle ability pupils would not write anything. The effects seemed to be higher on lower sets than it did on higher sets, but this could related to the fact their baseline was much lower. I hope to repeat the survey at some point next year with my classes to see how the data looks after a prolonged period of using tis marking strategy; this should give me an idea of the long term effects.

In conclusion:

The evidence suggests that the new strategy has increased engagement within the sample. This is because the feedback is easier to read and it includes something for pupils to attempt, rather than to just read. This is enough for me to decide to continue with the strategy.

  1. Ben Gordon
    July 1, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    Where can I get these marking stickers? Great idea!

    • July 2, 2013 at 7:58 am

      They should be replicatable via word.

  2. MrsJMWatson
    July 1, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    These look great but some logistical questions:
    Do they take a long time to write? Is it costly to produce these as stickers and colour printing? Do you do this for every class every week? Do your students have A5 exercise books and stuck in covering a whole page?
    Sorry about the question, just trying to imagine myself doing the same 🙂

    • July 2, 2013 at 7:58 am

      They don’t take long to write. I find it much quicker than writing written feedback in each book. WE print them onto paper (usually coloured, and the pupils stick them in using pritt stick). We do it for each class once a fortnight at the end of a unit. We have just moved to A5 books, yes, andn it does cover a full page, normally get them to stick it onto the back of th unit minitest.

  3. Assheton
    July 2, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    I woudl loveto see how the spreadsheet has set up and some sample comments for the fantastic A5 marking feedback form… Is there any chance you coudl send one over to me?

  1. October 12, 2013 at 4:08 pm
  2. December 7, 2013 at 8:45 pm
  3. December 31, 2013 at 5:54 pm

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