Which feedback adds up for maths lessons?

Researchers from the University of Kassel in Germany have written a new paper comparing two kinds of feedback in mathematics.

Process-oriented feedback (POF) is an evidence-based approach where pupils are given written feedback, including which mathematical operations have been properly applied and which have not, as well as how strategies can be improved. In social-comparative feedback (SCF) pupils are given only a grade for their work.

A total of 146 ninth-grade pupils (mean age 15.3 years) from 23 German secondary schools were randomly assigned to one of the two feedback conditions, POF or SCF. The authors then explored how useful the pupils found their feedback, and the impact it had on achievement and interest. POF was perceived as more useful and competence supportive (pupils believing that others think they are capable) than SCF. The total effects of POF on interest and achievement development were positive, but did not reach the threshold of statistical significance. The authors note that grades are strongly attached to pupils’ pride and sense of worth, whereas process-oriented feedback was, in contrast, generally new to them – therefore the study may underestimate the impact of POF.

Source: Written Feedback in Mathematics: Mediated by Students’ Perception, Moderated by Goal Orientation (2013), Learning and Instruction, 27.