What is the relative value of verbal feedback in the classroom, versus non-verbal feedback approaches?
Throughout 2017-18, I have been conducting action research in school classrooms from November 2017 to June 2018; designed to alleviate teacher workload and raise the profile of verbal feedback (i.e. teachers speaking to students). I was delighted in March 2018, when University College London expressed an interest in my project and have taken the research to another level with funding and academic critique.
You can listen to me talk through this project in a live Periscope video.
Through the Verbal Feedback Research and Development (R&D) programme, the UCL Access and Widening Participation Office are looking to find out whether the Verbal Feedback approach has an impact on outcomes for disadvantaged pupils.
By disadvantaged pupils, meaning pupils from groups that are under-represented in higher education (HE): those from lower-income and lower socio-economic backgrounds; Black African and Caribbean pupils; disabled pupils; care-experienced pupils; young carers; pupils from Gypsy/Roma/Traveller backgrounds; refugee/forced migrants; pupils with specific learning difficulties and mental health problems.
In terms of outcomes, we are looking at outcomes that may contribute to the likelihood of progression to HE. This may include attainment, attendance and wellbeing.
The project will run from January 2019 – September 2019, with comparative data drawn from September – December 2018 used as the (non-verbal feedback) baseline. There will also be a dissemination/celebration event (Teacher Takeaway) held in September 2019.
- 10 schools with 2 teachers in each (20 teachers)
- UCL will provide a small bursary to schools to cover costs associated with the project e.g. cover/travel (amount to be confirmed in August 2018)
- The project will focus on classes of year 7 or 8 students (KS3).
Recruitment to the project will begin in September 2018 via the UCL Professional Learning Network (open to any teacher working in a UK state school) and teachers will be able to apply using an online form. The online form will contain the key CPD dates and request contact details for the head teacher who will need to confirm their commitment to the project and agree to support teachers’ attendance at CPD sessions.
UCL will draft a school agreement form outlining their responsibilities on the project alongside those of schools and individual teachers involved. The agreement will outline the use of the bursary money to schools; attendance at sessions and project outputs E.g. posters and dissemination event. The document will also include reference to ethical considerations, which will be explored further in the first R&D session led by Mark Quinn.
The team agreed that the project will follow the format of Mark’s suggested Ask-Investigate-Innovate-Reflect model provided below. Teachers involved in the project will form the project’s central research question at the first R&D session led by Mark (23rd January 2019), the central question will be shaped by the research parameters identified above, in line with UCL’s Access and Participation Plan. All teachers will use the same research question but can select their preferred evidence collection methods.
In terms of project outcomes, teachers will design an R&D poster that will be used to disseminate learning from the project (R&D into CPD), this will be used at the Teacher Takeaway in September 2019 and will also feed into the evaluation of the project written by Mark, with CPD support from me at Teacher Toolkit.
Core baseline data will (be drawn from September – December 2018) reflect the research parameters (identified above), but teachers will also be free to explore secondary areas of interest that they would like their research to focus on which feedback to the research outcomes. Teachers participating in the project will be asked in October 2018 to start thinking about baseline data ahead of the first session.
To support the project evaluation, teachers will also be asked to maintain an R&D reflective diary throughout the project (provided by Mark), which they will share with the project team for evaluation purposes.
Outcomes from the programme
- Teachers will gain valuable expertise in verbal feedback approaches
- Understand the relative value of verbal versus non-verbal feedback approaches
- Learn and practise a practitioner-researcher model to R&D that they can apply to any innovation
- Become more critically engaged in research evidence.
It was agreed that the R&D posters produced by each participant would form a useful component of a resource pack that would be made available to schools. The resource (toolkit) would also feature practical advice and materials for teachers to use in their own teaching and learning context. The resource will be developed by me at Teacher Toolkit, building on pre-existing work in this area.
UCL Institute of Education LCLL, working with Ross McGill, will design and deliver a Verbal Feedback R&D programme on behalf of UCL Access and Widening Participation, which will run from January 2019. The programme will be aimed primarily at teachers working with disadvantaged children and will address the related issues of effective feedback and teacher workload.