Assessment is an integral part of the educational process. Teachers spend considerable time designing assessments to measure what students know and are able to do. However, they do not always devote the same level of attention to analysing the information collected.
Assessment data analysis should guide teacher instruction. It allows them to identify a learner’s current level of performance compared with the desired outcomes, and to make concrete decisions to plan the next steps towards the learning goals. In this sense, quality and effective feedback is also essential for students, as it provides them with an opportunity to reflect on their learning process, identify their strengths and areas for improvement and keep progressing.
What kind of feedback is given in Language B courses?
In most cases, Language B feedback is based on the IB assessment criteria. Teachers providing feedback via ManageBac can create rubrics for their specific subjects and customise category weightings. The annotation tool also allows them to mark and annotate submitted coursework and to add feedback comments based on the criteria.
The following questions could guide your feedback:
- Is the vocabulary appropriate to the task? Is it varied?
- Are grammatical structures varied and effectively used?
- Is language accurate? Do errors interfere with communication?
- Are the ideas relevant to the task?
- Are ideas fully developed?
- Are ideas clearly presented? Are they structured in a logical and coherent manner?
- Are register and tone appropriate to the task?
- Does the student make links to the target culture and develop them?
- Is the choice of text type appropriate to the task in written assignments?
- Are pronunciation and intonation easy to understand in oral activities?
Where should feedback come from?
When feedback is provided by teachers, it allows them to verify to what degree the learning objectives have been met and whether the content has been understood. Thanks to feedback, teachers have the opportunity to review, practise and clarify key concepts, and to provide learners with personalised suggestions for improvement and development. Teacher feedback is undoubtedly essential for guiding and supporting students in their learning process.
However, students normally accept teachers’ comments without further ado and, for that reason, not many reflect on the advice they are given. On the contrary, when feedback is provided by peers, not only is it easier for the student to be receptive to comments, but it also encourages debate and makes them dare to discuss their opinion, show disagreement and ask for justifications. This practice helps them to reflect on their performance and learn from it. Even in the case of students whose achievement is significantly above the average, identifying the mistakes of their classmates allows them to review the contents and reflect on how these could be explained – a process that reinforces their knowledge.
Students can also assess themselves. Although self-feedback should be accompanied by other types of feedback – one’s own perspective is sometimes limited – it is equally valuable, as it helps learners become familiar with the marking criteria and develop their reflective skills, which are essential for autonomous learning. Furthermore, it makes them more receptive and interested in receiving feedback from others.
How to ensure feedback is effective and meaningful
For feedback to be effective and meaningful, it should be….
Provide feedback as soon as possible, and from the beginning of the learning process, to ensure there is still time for learners to act on it by applying your suggestions to their work and adjusting their own learning.
Highlight students’ achievements, and then give examples of how they could improve their work. This will increase their confidence and reduce frustration over mistakes.
Clear and concise
Use a language that is easy for students to understand. Complex vocabulary can sometimes interfere with communication and make learners unsure of the advice they are being given.
Tell them exactly what they are able to do and point out the specific areas that need to be improved. General phrases like “good job” or “I don’t think you understood this exercise” are not helpful if we do not explain why students did well or how they can correct their mistakes.
Avoid overwhelming students with countless comments. Look for patterns in their work and focus on the two or three most important aspects to improve: grammar, vocabulary choice, development of ideas, effectiveness of communication, use of connectors… It will be easier for them to remember your advice, internalise it and put it into practice.
It is essential that students do something with the feedback provided. Ask them to redo the assignment applying the feedback received and make sure that both you and your students keep track of the feedback given. This will allow you to revisit it when it’s needed to assess students’ progress.
If you want to know more ways to give effective learning feedback, read 20 Ways To Provide Effective Feedback For Learning by Laura Reynolds.
Feedback is undoubtedly a tool that not only improves academic performance but also promotes motivation, self-regulation and effectiveness. Have you ever sought feedback from your students? If you have not, you may want to try. It is an excellent opportunity to reflect on your daily practice, your methods and approaches and, why not, inform instructional changes that will make you improve and grow as a teacher.
About the Author
Andrea Muga is the Subject Leader responsible for our ManageBac French B Subject Page. ManageBac Subject Pages offer a collection of curated, subject-specific resources to support best practices in teaching and learning. You can access Subject Pages via your ManageBac account – check in regularly for new materials, advice and ideas.
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