Teachers’ use of growth feedback and its role in students’ science engagement and achievement: A multi-level model

Year: 2018

Author: Burns, Emma, Martin, Andrew, Collie, Rebecca

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Teacher feedback is an integral component of student learning (Nicola & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006). Teacher feedback helps students to evaluate, assess, and develop new approaches to their learning. One important form of teacher feedback is growth feedback, such that the teacher indicates specific areas needing and strategies for improvement. While there has been increasing interest in growth approaches to education, the majority of this work has focused on growth goal setting (Martin, 2006) or grading schemes (Anderman et al., 2015)—but not growth-oriented feedback from teachers. Given that previous research has found growth-approaches to have a positive impact on students’ academic enjoyment, interest, and achievement (Burns et al., 2018), there is potential yield in assessing the extent to which growth-approaches employed by teachers, such as growth feedback, have a similar positive impact on student outcomes. This may be especially relevant in science education given the well-documented decline in science engagement and achievement over the past decade (OECD, 2014). As such, it may be that students’ who are given growth feedback in science may be more likely to experience positive interest and enjoyment, and in turn, achievement. The present investigation utilizes the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) dataset for Australian students and schools. The sample comprises data from N = 14,088 secondary school students in N = 758 secondary schools. By using multi-level structural equation modelling, the present investigation examined the extent to which science growth feedback predicts student science enjoyment and interest and, in turn, science achievement at both the student and school level. Findings indicated that science growth feedback significantly positively predicts science enjoyment and interest, and that enjoyment and interest significantly positively predict achievement at both the student- and school-level. Science growth feedback also had significant positive indirect effect on achievement, suggesting that growth feedback, via improved interest and enjoyment, has a positive impact on achievement. Taken together, these findings indicate that growth feedback may be a viable strategy for teachers to use to promote interest, enjoyment, and achievement in science.