Patterns in the form of formative feedback and student response

Maarten van de Ven

Formative feedback currently receives attention as an effective means of increasing student learning. However, how to frame feedback to achieve the best effect is an ongoing debate.

This study is based on a written data-set of feedback comments and student responses to these on a bachelor’s level course at the University of Copenhagen. The course, Fundamentals of the Didactics of Science and Mathematics (DidG), is open to all students at the Faculty of Science. The course is recommended for students who wish to become teachers in upper secondary schools, but is also taken by many science students who have a general interest in teaching, dissemination and theory of science.

In this study the authors analyse a written data-set of 174 segments of teacher feedback and student response, coded using 10 emergent feedback and 14 response categories. As it is argued that feedback is a dialogue between students and teacher, links between feedback and response segments are viewed as a dialogical framework that the authors visualise and understand using network analysis.

From this network the authors conclude that some ways of formulating feedback are more productive and likely to lead to types of responses that signify learning than others. They thus identify the reflection group of responses, consisting of the categories reflective response, explanation and students investigate own thinking. The feedback categories that link primarily to the reflection group are open question, wondering question and leading question, which we categorize as the questioning group of feedback. This study discusses these patterns against a previously published framework, and by discussing specific examples the study elaborates on our understanding of what makes feedback formative.

For teachers who wish to develop their practice of formative feedback, this study stresses the importance of the ongoing dialogue between feedback giver and receiver, and the importance of formulating feedback as unambiguous invitations to engage in dialogue – if a reflective and investigative response is desired from the students.

Marianne Ellegaard, Linn Damsgaard, Jesper Bruun & Bjørn Friis Johannsen (2018) Patterns in the form of formative feedback and student response, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 43:5, 727-744, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2017.1403564

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Marianne Ellegaard, Linn Damsgaard, Jesper Bruun & Bjørn Friis Johannsen (2018)…