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Research corner

Each week, we highlight education research conducted by teachers. This week, Simon Bayliss, a teacher at Oxford Spires Academy in Oxfordshire, explains how he attempted to improve his school's methods of offering feedback by asking students for their opinions.

What?

Written feedback has become inextricably linked with the day-to-day work of a teacher. As a result of the emphasis placed on marking in his school, Simon Bayliss, pictured, wanted to discover students' thoughts on his marking, in order to maximise the impact of his written feedback.

Why?

Few research projects have looked at how feedback can be best delivered from a student's point of view. Bayliss decided to do just that to see if he could gain any insight. His hunch was that students were often unsatisfied with their feedback and found it difficult to judge or contextualise their own performance.

How?

Bayliss selected 500 students for his study, from every year group within key stages 3 and 4, and asked them to complete an online questionnaire.

He then asked them to review the feedback they most commonly received, rating how effectively it helped them to make progress and suggesting how it could be improved. These questionnaires were later supported by group interviews with students and teachers, designed to probe their opinions in detail.

The results

The findings revealed that students felt written feedback helped them to make progress "most of the time", as it offered a clear pathway to improvement.

They encountered problems, however, when teachers gave vague comments or did not return to previous targets to review their progress.

Arguably the most interesting response was pupils' feedback on grading preference, with 92 per cent of those interviewed requesting a grade in addition to written comments. The reasons were threefold: this would allow students to self-assess more effectively, it gave a more personal touch and offered a more quantitative benchmark against which students could measure their progress.

The impact

As a result of his findings, Bayliss has now started to look at how grades for effort could be used along with written comments to give students the contextual understanding they seek.

To find out more about the project, email Simon Bayliss at sbayliss@oxfordspiresacademy.org

To share your research findings, email william.martin@tesglobal.com

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