What should a research-informed teaching and learning policy say and do?
I’ve been working with many schools, developing their teaching and learning methods as well as their strategic policies. Below I have copied a template for you to adopt based on some of the things that I am researching and implementing …
A model template to adopt?
It is worth noting that alongside this template, there should also be professional development opportunities to bring the document to life. Alongside CPD, quality assurance methods should be considered with discussions about the terminology used and the expectations across a multitude of subjects, teaching styles and age groups.
Any policy should not live on a static document inside a folder; methodologies should be evident in classrooms across the school.
This assessment policy sets out how classroom-based staff will provide summative and formative responses to pupils’ work at [X School].
The evidence suggests that whole-school-specific policy that focuses on marking and/or feedback alone do not work and limits the scope and complexity of the work teachers and classroom assistants provide.
[X School] strives to use a research-informed approach that offers commonsense and pragmatism for those who implement it and for those that are the recipients – not for third party observers.
For the purposes of this policy, when references are made regarding ‘marking’ and/or ‘feedback’ [X School] will replace this with ‘assessment’. For clarity, this includes formative and summative assessments which can be defined as the following 9 variations (not including data collection):
- Written (marking) feedback (comparing new with old)
- Written feed up (Comparison of the actual status with the target status)
- Written feed forward (Explanation of the target status based on the actual status)
- Verbal (Commentary, ad-hoc comments… or the use of a script) feedback
- Verbal feed up
- Verbal feed forward
- Non verbal (E.g. hand signals, thumbs up, online rewards) feedback
- Non verbal feed up
- Non verbal feed forward.
Supporting teacher autonomy and workload
[X School’s] updated approach allows the professional to select appropriate assessment methods for their subject, age of pupil, stage of learning, and ensure that maximum progress is taking place.
No frequency of the above assessment methods will be stipulated in any subject area.
[X School] want the teacher to have the autonomy to provide an assessment as and when it is required across the curriculum, not have assessment drive our curriculum intentions.
Over the last decade, recommendations for marking and feedback should be: manageable, meaningful, motivatational – and timely. [X School] are moving well beyond this assumption into the next decade.
This assessment policy considers teacher workload charters and promises, alongside the key aim, that a teacher’s assessment in or out of class facilitates that pupil to take action.
For the purposes of this policy, this is illustrated by the following influences (Coe, 2006), some of which cannot be observed in lesson observations, work scrutiny or in pupil conversations alone. Those influences are:
- The characteristic of the task, and any distinction between motivation and effort and its links to performance.
- How feedback is presented; especially goal-setting
- Ego-involvement (E.g. competition)
- Norm-referenced and self-referenced
- Informational or controlling
- Positive or negative feedback
- Timing (immediate or delayed) – (one influence most schools factor)
- General or focused
- Credibility (containing accurate information)
- Level of involvement
- Self-efficacy and self-esteem.
- Attributions for success and failure
- The differences between individuals and their expectations
- Achievement orientation and,
- Receptiveness and performance adequacy
To provide one simple example for anyone observing a lesson at [X School], a teacher may provide an assessment (see no.5 definition at the top!) and then decide to delay (see no. 8 immediately above) the verbal feed up until the start, end of the lesson, or hold it back until the next lesson. No policy can detail these scenarios for all teachers, pupils and classrooms, but it is worth just highlighting how one approach influences the success of what teachers do in the classroom and how this can open up a world of possibilities for evaluation.
We have factored these into our policy and will define how they may be quality assured in the supporting documents …
Please feel free to use the above as a statement for intent when reviewing or designing your school’s updated policy.