Best Practice

Feedback: The mark of success – Part 7

In the final article of his seven-part series on effective feedback techniques and practices, Matt Bromley looks at the ‘when’ and the ‘how’ of feedback – and putting evidence into practice

I will begin this final instalment by exploring two important considerations related to feedback: the when and the how.

The timing of feedback is important because if it is given too early, certainly before pupils have had a chance to work on a problem for themselves, then they will learn less.

If it is given too late, pupils will have moved on to new learning and the feedback will be irrelevant, or they will have repeated the same mistakes and the feedback will not be as impactful as it would have been had it been given in a timely manner.

According to Professor Dylan Wiliam, feedback after a test that includes the correct answer increases pupils’ capacity to learn because it enables them to correct any errors in their work. The critical mechanism in learning from tests, Wiliam argues, is successful retrieval. However, if pupils do not retrieve the correct response after taking the test and have no recourse to learn it, then the benefits of testing can be limited or indeed absent altogether.

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