Research Spotlight – January

Blog Posts – Focus on Feedback

Feedback is a topic that is sure to get teachers talking. One welcome change we are seeing in the education landscape is a greater awareness that feedback does not equal marking but involves deploying a range of strategies to, as Dylan Wiliam says, “improve the pupil not the work”.

There have been many interesting posts written on how the marking burden spread out of control and led to the normalisation of teachers loosing entire weekends to teetering piles of books. Most point the finger to marking being done not for the pupils but for outside observers. This post from 2016 by Alex Ford suggests that attempts to please OFSTED should take a lot of the blame and the Department for Educations own report makes much the same claim about workload being driven by those outside the classroom.

As well as diagnosing the problem, many blog posts and articles suggest solutions. This post by Mrs Humanities suggests a range of techniques for making feedback more effective though the use of teacher modelling, marking codes and peer assessment. Many people have written about the move away from individual marking and towards verbal whole class feedback. One of the earliest examples is this post from Jo Facer on her school’s way of using whole class feedback – complete with photos of it in action. There have been some concerns about the rise of this form of feedback with some people claiming that using a template to record your feedback is just as time consuming as marking books and others arguing that it is simply a way that lazy teachers try to avoid work. I dealt with both these complaints in this piece here. More recently there has been a worry that whole class feedback is now being used to demonstrate feedback to outside observers – and so the circle in complete. Ben Newmark discusses the issue in this post.

Away from the blog posts, this 2007 paper by Hattie and Timperley on The Power of Feedback is an excellent look at why different types of feedback is needed for different tasks and the EEF Toolkit on Feedback reminds us that whilst it is very important as part of the learning process, 40% of interventions to improve feedback actually led to pupils making less progress than they would have done without the feedback!

Education Conferences

This weekend (26th of January) is The Wonder Years conference in London hosted by the campaign group Parents and Teachers for Excellence. The line up of speakers will be discussing the idea of the “knowledge rich curriculum”.

The next big ResearchEd conference in our area is in Durrington, West Sussex, in April. Tickets sell out fast and the line-up of speakers is impressive so get booked soon if you’d like to go.

For those willing to travel a little further afield, this conference in the Midlands on curriculum looks like it will be a fascinating event.

Research at Heathfield Community College

The assessment innovation team continues with its range of research projects.

  • The impact of retrieval practice on meaningful learning in history and geography
  • Interleaving learning through homework in science
  • Using exemplars for comparative judgement in the visual arts
  • The use of comparative judgement for assessment in English
  • Ranking as a means of identifying under-performance in geography.

We also have funded research projects running that are looking into the use of wave one intervention as a method of closing the gap, evaluating methods to close the gender gap and looking at disadvantage and KS2 – 3 transition.

If you would like to learn more about any of these please get in touch.

DO talk about Journal Club however.

Journal Club

Finally, a reminder that Journal Club runs every Thursday Week B lunchtime in K5. This term we will turn our attention to the implications of the highly influential paper by Kirschner, Sweller and Clark (2006) Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work 

We will consider the different ways that novices and experts learn and consider how this might also apply to teachers.

By Mark Enser – Head of Geography and Research Lead


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