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Balancing the Act of Feedback to avoid overload

by Lola Oriade, Lead Practitioner, The Telford Park School

According to Hattie and Timperley (2007) feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement, but this can be either positive or negative.

How can we get it right without it leading to overloading or disengagement?

With a lot of focus on reducing teachers’ workload, it is imperative as practitioners for us to reflect on how our feedback can be effective and relevant to what our students need to be successful in the long-term.

The pandemic has brought new ways of delivering feedback in a way that is safe for both teachers and students, as well as handing some responsibilities to students for addressing gaps in their learning after the long lockdowns. Whole class feedback (WCF) has been one of the methods we embraced as a school to address whole school key improvements and reduce the risk of transmission via

frequent exposure to different sets of books. As well as this, I found using a visualiser to aid instant verbal feedback (IVF) valuable in addressing misconceptions and creating a positive learning community.

Previously, I prided myself with my marking, annotations and picking on several mistakes and misconceptions in my students’ books. After a while, I began to reflect on my practice and wondered who the marking or “overmarking” is for and how beneficial this is in increasing my students’ competence and love of my subjects.

Didau (2016:249) pointed out that “Teachers may well spend a fair amount of time giving feedback to students in their class, but an individual student may equally well spend relatively little time receiving feedback.” Feedback that does not encourage or lead to engagement by the student is an exercise in futility.

According to the Evidence Based Teaching Network (EBTN-) the key to feedback is what happens next; the student’s action on the feedback is where deep learning takes place. This is vital as most students only retain 5% of the feedback in non- practical subjects like English or history, hence the need to use WCF. It helps in identifying misconceptions across ability range, without marking a whole class set. I select 4-5 books across the 3 main ability ranges with a mixture of SEN, PP and NPP students (books selected during this process are noted so that they are re-selected during the next round of assessment). While marking, I note on my WCF proforma (please see Fig 1 – WCF Sheet) patterns of misconceptions, unlearnt or not carefully embedded concepts, vocabulary and knowledge that needs to be revisited in subsequent lessons.

Fig 1 Whole Class Feedback Sheet

Common Misconceptions

Recent studies have shown that key concepts must be retaught to mastery level and feedback only works when there is foundation knowledge or else when pupils are unclear on how to improve, repeated wrong application of concepts may become embedded in their long-term memory (Didau, 2016).

Finally, pupils reflect independently on their work using some of the questions in the ACT section to focus on areas they identified as weakness in their responses. This method has proved effective as most students increase their confidence overtime or better still improve their performance.


As mentioned previously, IVF using visualiser has also been one of the feedback tools that I use in my lessons. Immediate VF increases learning as opposed to written feedback which, according to EBTN, loses its essence.

In between using WCF, I IVF when extended piece of work completed by students is not too long. Everyone shares their work using a visualiser, and feedback is given both by peers and myself based on agreed criteria, extracted from a WAGOLL.

During this process, the pupil whose work is shared, gets a feedback frame (please see Fig 2) to support their written reflection. After this, the whole class now respond to the specific action(s) to show their new knowledge. This process appears daunting to some students at first; however, as a positive atmosphere has been created everyone’s effort is valued and a sense of community is fostered.

Feedback Form

To sum this up, we all need to begin to ask these pertinent questions before embarking on the process of feedback:

  • How does our feedback make our pupils feel?

  • What sort of reaction is triggered from our feedback?

  • Does our feedback reward effort(process) or aptitude (the teacher’s preferred response)?

  • Does our feedback increase pupils’ desire to search for more knowledge?

  • Does our Feedback allow pupils to be committed to their long- term learning or lead to improve independence outside the classroom?

"Overall, there should be a balance so that immediate and too frequent feedback does not become ineffective when students begin to rely on it to move their learning forward. One of the most comic ways that was used to summarise feedback was that if it is not well thought out and timed, it can lead to students being addicted to their fixes and falling apart when they are unavailable, especially during exams and assessments" (Didau 2016).

Lola Oriade

Lead Practitioner

The Telford Park School

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