Wednesday, July 31, 2013

COR Literacy Framework Pt2 - Feedback

Feedback is any information provided by a teacher, parent, book, experience, or peer that gives the recipient knowledge about their performance on a particular learning activity. It is given before, during or after instruction so that learners can be encouraged and informed about ways to improve performance and to develop further the ability to perform to higher levels.

Feedback is often given in classrooms, however, some forms of feedback are ineffective and often quite counter-productive. Feedback considered as praise, for example, carries very little feedback information about student performance and will have very little impact upon learning. Praise is often directed at the self and is far too general and uninformative to be of any use for meaningful learning. Expressions such as, "Good boy!" or "Great effort!" often seeks to convey a positive message but can sometimes give a very negative impression. For example, if the teacher says, "Good girl!" at a time when the performance does not meet what the learner expects then the impression the student perceives is that the teacher does not expect any better from her. As a consequence, the student may begin to have doubts about her own future performance. Consequently, over a period of time, the student may develop poor self-efficacy with the expectation that it is not worth trying in the future if a lower level of performance is the expected outcome.

I have recently read Hattie and Timperley's (2007) seminal article on feedback and have noted that teachers (or others) can effectively direct feedback to three different levels of cognitive functioning that will enable students to engage, comprehend, or to become more self-supporting in the learning process. Hattie's three levels: task, process, and self-regulation closely correspond to the three levels in the COR literacy framework. In other words, feedback should be aimed at moving learners from the task level to the process level and then to the regulation level. The task level (perceptual) is more often addressed and seeks to provide students with information about how well a task is being accomplished, for example, how well the surface information is being gained, distinguishing correct from incorrect answers, and acquiring new or different information. At the performance level (cognitive) the student receives feedback on the learning process itself, such as the efficacy of certain strategies or learning processes that the student employs to perform a learning task. This feedback tends to be more effective than task level feedback because the information can be applied to future learning tasks. This process is often referred to as deep learning because it is more endurable. The third level is self-regulation (metacognitive) feedback. However, it is seldom addressed in classrooms but is the most enduring because it is directed toward developing self-regulated learning.

Hattie and Timperley proposed that effective feedback should be directed to all three levels and that it should answer three strategic questions. The three questions are: "Where am I going?", "How am I going?", and " Where to next?". Once again this is consistent with the COR Literacy Framework in that these questions can be modelled by the teacher and directed at both the task and process levels. When the students generate questions concerning the task (or product) and process they are automatically operating at the self-regulation level. For this process to be effective there needs to be clear task(product) and clear process goals set at the beginning of the activity.  The goals need to be authentic and attainable for each student and so "Where am I going?" should address these goals. "How am I going?" is a self-monitoring question that seeks information about comprehension at processing level. It also monitors and regulates the learning strategies employed during the learning task. "Where to next?" is a reflective question that promotes self-efficacy and focuses on future challenges.

Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112.

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