Feedback is critical for student learning yet it is not known how effectively and consistently it is delivered in primary Australian classrooms.

Year: 2017

Author: Lee, Kevin, Boon, Helen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Educational research into feedback has been conducted in primary, secondary and tertiary educational contexts and across international boundaries. The research literature shows that feedback is complex and seemingly fraught with issues for both the giver and the receiver. Despite this body of existing research, the issues around the provision and outcomes of feedback in primary school, a matter of critical importance for students' motivation to persist with learning, appear conflicting, inconsistent and under-evaluated.

While feedback is consistently listed as one of the top ten in?uences on learning in terms of effect size, it appears to be commonly recognised that different forms of feedback can have strikingly different consequences for student learning. Research has shown that providing effective feedback is far more difficult than it appears. Moreover, scholars have found that much of the feedback that students get has little or no effect on their learning. Significantly, some kinds of feedback are actually counterproductive.

Based on a systematic review of literature, it may be argued that the complexities in feedback conspire against the teacher in a busy and often crowded primary classroom from giving feedback effectively. Given these complexities and the diverse nature of the primary classroom, receiving feedback is seen by some researchers as multi-faceted in the sense that it is constructed of a range of features which may be applied in both teaching and learning and in the day to day operations of the primary classroom. This range may reflect the diversities of personal histories and circumstances of the students, their motivation, engagement or the nature of the feedback being received.

Preliminary findings from an extensive literature review indicate that the effectiveness of feedback on student learning rests with the abilities and skills of the classroom teacher to deliver to students accurate, clear and appropriate instructions on how to move student learning closer to the learning goals of the lesson. Furthermore, the research literature points to the importance of the teacher establishing a classroom culture where students we willing to accept the risk of possible criticism as a consequence of their efforts. Finally, although it is well established that focused, clear and age appropriate formative feedback improves students' learning, it is not clear what feedback Australian primary school teachers are providing and what is required for our student's to be able to benefit from this feedback.