Best Practice

NQT Special: The open loop – improving feedback

Giving timely and effective feedback to pupils is a key factor in successful teaching and a development priority for all new teachers. Matt Bromley advises

To help pupils learn, we need to provide them with plentiful opportunities to practise, receive feedback, reflect, and then act upon that feedback. This is called the open loop because it spins endlessly: practice, feedback, reflection; practice, feedback, reflection; ad infinitum.

Every skill can be improved and perfected by performing it repeatedly but not all forms of practice are equal. We learn most effectively when we engage in what Anders Ericsson calls “purposeful practice”.

Purposeful practice is about struggling in certain targeted ways – placing artificial barriers in the way of pupils’ success in order to make it harder for them to learn something initially. In other words, we slow our pupils’ learning down and force them to make mistakes because this will ensure they operate at the very edge of their abilities.

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