Why does the teaching profession need an academic paper to prove the obvious?
With the rise of action research taking place across the profession and the emergence of cognitive psychology influencing ‘how’ teachers now teach, there is increasing pressure on the validity of what teachers do in the classroom to have equal validity.
The context for the research
In 2016, I was adamant to conduct my own action research to demonstrate that ‘verbal feedback’ made a difference to pupils’ outcomes. Particularly when:
- What teachers said to pupils were unobserved
- Conversations teachers had required VF comments in pupils’ books or VF stamps, or
- That pupils were required to write down what teachers had said before they actually completed the work
All in the name of demonstrating evidence and progress to someone else who was more often than not, absent from the classroom with the pupils and the teacher when feedback took place.
The research journey…
Having conducted research across the U.K. and further afield, written marking has been driving up levels of workload and teacher mental-health to unprecedented levels. I shared the findings of our research project throughout 2018/19 and others:
- Announcing Verbal Feedback Research. (May 2017)
- Verbal Feedback Experimentation in Class. (May 2017)
- Five Tips to Eradicate the Marking Misery. (March 2017)
- Can verbal feedback have an impact? More Verbal Feedback! (Dec 2016)
- Verbal Feedback Stamp Madness. Stop it now! (Sept. 2015)
What the research suggests…
It is with great satisfaction that I present this classroom-based research project back to the profession, as evidence that ‘speaking with pupils (using scripted feedback) does make a difference to pupils’ outcomes. Our findings suggest that verbal feedback, when applied well, has a positive impact on the engagement of all students (and gains in progress and achievement) and – at the least – appears to have no detrimental effects. The research is now clear.
I sincerely hope you read it and disseminate the report’s findings with your leadership teams and challenge any inspectors who visit your school that day-to-day marking – in its traditional form – is no-longer king!
Download the report
I will publish my interpretation of the research findings in future blog posts. In the meantime, grab the research paper and the toolkit (the methods I used with the teachers) to develop VF techniques.
In a climate of high-stakes accountability, this research is timely for teachers across the UK to help strip back the marking burden and challenge the notion that written feedback is the best form of assessment. It could be ground-breaking!