What simple fix should teachers use when providing feedback?
Use the powerful words ‘not yet’ in your assessment to cut through complex grading systems; this will motivate students to improve their learning and develop resilience …
Adopt a diagnostic focus
Summative assessment means evaluating a piece of work according to success criteria, then giving it a grade.
On the other hand, formative assessment is not about giving a grade, but rather providing commentary on the level the student is working at to improve their learning.
As a new teacher, it took me quite some time to work out the differences, and even longer to work out what this looked like in the classroom.
Despite this distinction, formative and summative assessments are things that every teacher must do, and both often require the use of multiple assessment frameworks.
Therefore, understanding multiple assessment frameworks is critical, and communicating a grading system to students to help them understand the work they are doing, and more importantly, why they are doing it is fundamental practice in the classroom.
Although there has been much criticism of growth and fixed mindset, in her research paper, ‘Even Geniuses Work Hard’, Professor Carol Dweck argues that meaningful feedback on difficult classwork can motivate ‘students to love challenges, to enjoy effort, to be resilient, and to value their own improvement’.
Developing resilience and self-regulation
The above can all be achieved with the simple word ‘yet’. There’s not much to disagree with!
Dweck states that ‘yet’ ‘should be used frequently in every classroom. Whenever students say they can’t do something or are not good at something, the teacher should add “yet”’ (Dweck, 2010).
I’ve used it ever since on written and verbal feedback – I use it with the teachers I work with too! It’s worth teachers taking a look at the following, then reflecting on where and how they can use the word ‘yet’ when providing assessment:
- Types of feedback
- Feedback influences
- Using whole-class feedback to develop self-regulation
- Feedback to improve learning (EEF, 2021)
Try assessing the first piece of work students produce in the lesson with a simple ‘not yet…’ and see the immediate effect.
You can’t use this technique in your back garden on a sunny day, so why not leave your books at school and provide immediate, meaningful and motivating feedback in class …