Highcliffe Learning Hub

Masters - Assessment & Feedback

Feedback Interaction in the Classroom

What do we already know?

Sadler’s (1989) Model of Effective Feedback

In order for assessment to be effectively formative it needs to include a monitoring function of being able to accurately measure attainment, a diagnostic function to locate specific ‘gaps’ in understanding, and provide a strategy on how to address these.

Wiliam and Thompson’s (2007) Strategies for Effective Feedback

Requires clear learning goals and success criteria, gathering assessment evidence through classroom discourse, to culminate in providing feedback that moves learners forward.

Undergirding these are the strategies of self and peer assessment which are concerned with engaging students in active involvement in the assessment process and assist the development of self-regulation.

What don’t we know?

  • Does following the model and strategy for effective feedback lead to deeper learning? Or are the effects we observe just ‘criteria compliance’? (Torrance 2007:282)

  • An understanding of learner, of learning and of the context is needed to establish whether feedback influences learning – a more complex link than the literature acknowledges. (Dann 2014:154) What does a holistic approach to assessment and feedback look like?

  • Even when provided with feedback in the form of timely formative written assessments there is ‘a large body of evidence’ that reveals this may not necessarily be understood or may even be completely ignored. (Pokorny and Pickford 2010:22) How can we be sure that feedback is interpreted correctly and acted upon?

  • In the literature feedback research is rarely classroom research – this isolation from the contextual influences ‘are not sufficient to guide teachers’ (Svanes & Skagen 2016:343) – If a teacher’s toolkit for marking and feedback is not enough, what are the contextual factors that contribute to effective feedback?

  • Although students’ perceptions of assessment feedback have been explored within the Higher Education context (Weaver 2006, Lizzio and Wilson 2008, Pokorny and Pickford 2010) – What are the perceptions of assessment feedback in the secondary school classroom?

What do we need to do?


There is a gap in the research where previous emphasis has been on what the effects of feedback are, rather than how such interventions become effective. (Hattie and Gan 2011:249)

Research would therefore need to shift the focus from which strategies work to an exploration of the climate in which feedback actions are influential. (Charteris 2016:291)

Which research method?


Testing effectiveness of theory through empirical investigation - “to develop explanations in the form of universal laws”

(Punch & Oancea 2014:18)

Understanding how the world appears to others - “a naturalistic approach that seeks to understand phenomena in context-specific settings”

(Golafshani 2003:600)

The phenomenological methodology is most valid considering ‘fitness for purpose’ as a guiding principle.

(Cohen, Manion & Morrison 2011)

What will the research look for?

The research will build on the work of Tunstall and Gipps (1996) which, in a study of formative assessment within classroom dialogue, established a grounded feedback typology with four categories: a) rewards/punishment, b) non-specific approval/disapproval, c) specifying attainment/improvement and d) constructing achievement/the way forward.

  • Deci, Koestner and Ryan (1999) have argued that extrinsic rewards, an example of type a) above, undermine the nurturing of positive learning behaviours.

  • Hattie and Timperley (2007) support this claim and found that most effective is information feedback that relates to the task, type c) above. Praise for task performance, type b), is found to be ineffective ‘because it contains such little learning-related information’ (Hattie and Timperley 2007:86).

  • Type c) feedback fits with Sadler’s model of the effective feedback process which imparts detailed information on the learning goal, the actual level of performance, and prescribes definite action to close the gap between the two (1989:121).

  • Gamlem and Smith (2013) have also found that type c) is most appreciated by students and most useful if there is time allocated to act upon this feedback.

  • When placed along a continuum of low verbal interaction to high verbal interaction, this type is revealed as a transmissive form of feedback in comparison with type d).


  • In their extension of the typology, type d) incorporates dialogic feedback interaction which is perceived as most useful as it happens ‘here and now’ but is ‘rarely used in class’ (Gamlem and Smith 2013:164).

According to Hattie and Gan our conception of feedback needs to ...

 move from a predominantly transmissive and verification process to a dialogic and elaborative process in a social context."


No further research is needed to categorise dialogic patterns, rather there is a clear need to explore context and see how much opinion exchange in feedback interactions are supported through curriculum (Howe and Aberdin 2013:344).

This research seeks to set instances of dialogic feedback interaction in the context of classroom assessment activity. The aim of the research is to observe effective feedback practice and identify contextual and curriculum variables that enhance or inhibit these processes. These objectives can be framed as the two research questions:

  • How do dialogic feedback interactions manifest themselves in assessment activities in the secondary school classroom?

  • What are the contextual and curriculum variables that enhance or inhibit effective feedback processes?

Can I get involved?

The research will need to explore a variety of curriculum contexts. An observation of classroom dialogue across a range of subjects will uncover the range of feedback types and functions that a teacher uses informally to help move students on in their work. This can also be contrasted with the types of feedback that are used in more formal assessment episodes such as written feedback statements and reporting. The study is designed to also observe whether feedback in the classroom correlates with feedback types found in assessment theory.

It is important that the teacher observed is experienced in formative assessment practice so that the feedback that is being observed is the ‘useful’ type that students understand how to utilise to improve the quality of their work. This will generate a rich data set that will help to demonstrate the range of feedback types found in daily classroom discourse. For the same reason it is also important that the class observed is responsive to feedback and actively engages in the assessment process

The study will involve an observation of a single lesson where the teacher is circulating between individuals or groups interacting to guide the students in making improvements and refinements to the work. The lesson will be recorded using a video recording and audio will be captured by the teacher wearing a microphone. This design aims to record the dialogue that the teacher has with the students and the responses that are given. The dialogue for the entire lesson will be transcribed and the video recording is used to help in this process and capture any cues that the dialogue does not record. The data is anonymised at this stage so that the speaker is identified as ‘teacher’ or ‘student’ in the transcript.

Are there any benefits in my taking part?

The findings are directly beneficial to the teachers in the school since it will help to define the ways in which the teachers uniquely implement the feedback and marking policy for the school in the specialist environment of their subject. It will also serve as a reflection tool on how the feedback and marking policy is being implemented.

For further details please email rbannister@highcliffeschool.com


Cohen, L., & Manion, L. & Morrison, K., (2011). Research methods in education. London: Routledge.

Charteris, J. (2016) Dialogic feedback as divergent assessment for learning: an ecological approach to teacher professional development. Critical Studies in Education 57: 277-295.

Dann, R. (2014) Assessment as learning: blurring the boundaries of assessment and learning for theory, policy and practice. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice 21: 149–166.

Deci, E., Koestner, R. & Ryan, R. (1999) A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological bulletin 125: 627-668.

Gamlem, S. & Smith, K. (2013) Student perceptions of classroom feedback. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice 20:150-169.

Golafshani, N. (2003) Understanding reliability and validity in qualitative research. The qualitative report, 8(4), pp.597–606.

Hattie, J. & Gan, M. (2011) Instruction based on feedback. In Handbook of research on learning and instruction Ed. Mayer, R. & Alexander, P. 249-271. Routledge.

Hattie, J. & Timperley, H. (2007) The power of feedback. Review of educational research 77: 81–112.

Howe, C. & Aberdin, M. (2013) Classroom dialogue: A systematic review across four decades. Cambridge Journal of Education 43: 325-356

Lizzio, A. and Wilson, K. (2008) Feedback on assessment: students’ perceptions of quality and effectiveness. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 33: 263—275.

Pokorny, H. & Pickford, P. (2010) Complexity, cues and relationships: Student perceptions of feedback. Active Learning in Higher Education 11: 21–30.

Punch, K. & Oancea, A. (2014) Introduction to research methods in education. London: Sage.

Sadler, D. (1989) Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems. Instructional Science 18: 119–144.

Svanes, I. & Skagen, K. (2016) Connecting feedback, classroom research and Didaktik perspectives. Journal of Curriculum Studies 1-18.

Torrance, H. (2007) Assessment as learning? How the use of explicit learning objectives, assessment criteria and feedback in post-secondary education and training can come to dominate learning. 1. Assessment in Education 14: 281–294.

Tunstall, P. & Gipps, C. (1996) Teacher feedback to young children in formative assessment: A typology. British Educational Research Journal 22:389-404.

Weaver, M. (2006) Do students value feedback? Student perceptions of tutors’ written responses. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 31: 379–394.

Wiliam, D. & Thompson, M. (2007) Integrating assessment with instruction: What will it take to make it work? In The future of assessment: Shaping teaching and learning Ed. Dwyer, C. 53–82. Erlbaum.

© Highcliffe School 2017 - 2021. | Admin