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Effective Feedback


I recently visited a supermarket and at the end of my purchase was asked by the cashier to rate ‘my experience’. There was an added incentive: automatic entry into a prize draw.  This got me thinking about all other times we are asked or ask for feedback: after courses, holidays, shopping online, social media or even just buying a coffee.  We are constantly being bombarded for requests for feedback, as if every experience needs to be assessed, measured and validated.

In some cases, precise and individually targeted feedback can make a huge difference to productivity and success. In schools, feedback to children needs to be sensitive and cultivate a sense that they can always improve.  However, ‘traditional’ marking has become little more than a box ticking exercise.  Moreover, it has become the straw that is breaking the backs of teachers and for that matter, students.  What use are arbitrary grades or numbers attached to a piece of homework?  What can be learned from comments such as “well done” or “neat work”?  I am sure you remember receiving such grades and comments at school. All that mattered was the grade; any productive comments were largely ignored.

Marking is fast becoming an outdated way to deliver effective feedback.  Dr Bernard Trafford, past Chair of HMC, the main association for independent schools, recently wrote in the Times Education Supplement that it is ‘time to consign most marking to the dustbin'. His argument, whilst controversial, makes a lot of sense.  At Kent College, we are ahead of the curve on this and have abandoned grades when marking Year 7 class or homework.  Instead, girls receive detailed feedback to improve their work. The best feedback is a dialogue between the teacher and the student, enabling them to see the homework task as something designed to improve their learning, rather than a means to an unproductive label on what they can achieve now or in the future.

Posted: 03/04/2018 at 13:40
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