Skip to Main Content

Open Day 2024: Thursday 25 July REGISTER YOUR ATTENDANCE

Teaching and Learning Framework: Clarity of Feedback

Teaching and Learning
02 February 2021

The purpose of formative assessment is to monitor students’ progress in a particular unit of work and to provide them with feedback as to how they can improve. It is also useful for a teacher to work out key knowledge and skills of a unit that may need to be re-taught. Unlike summative assessment, which students complete at the end of a unit of work, the focus of formative assessment is not to evaluate a student’s work or to determine a grade, but rather to help students and teachers set goals for learning in future lessons.

There are two types of formative assessment used by English teachers. The first type involves short activities that provide teachers with immediate feedback on students’ understanding of a particular concept or competence regarding a skill. For example, in 11 English this year, we have been trialling using hinge questions at the end of each lesson. A hinge question is a multiple-choice question with responses modelled on common student errors or misconceptions. By looking at how students in their class respond to a hinge question, teachers can judge how well students have understood what they have been taught in that lesson.

We also implement formative assessment tasks that involve students attempting a shorter version of the summative assessment for each unit. These pieces are typically completed halfway thought a unit of study. Teachers use students’ responses to a formative task to identify aspects of the summative assessment that students may be finding difficult or confusing, or key skills that may need to be re-taught. In our Year 12 Literature classes now, our students are preparing for their first essay exam. Our formative assessment for this unit involves students writing an introduction and one body paragraph of an essay in response to last year’s exam paper. By Year 12, most students have the basics of writing an essay under control, so feedback is more targeted at improving students’ depth of analysis, organisation of information, and control over written expression, especially vocabulary and sentence structure. This individual feedback helps students identify areas of their writing they need to improve in preparation for their essay exam.

Head of Faculty - English