When was the last time you provided formative feedback to your learners?

Written by: Inez De Florio


Although feedback plays an increasingly important role in everyday life as well as in teaching and learning, its implementation in the classroom is rather limited. Many teachers still believe that grades and an occasional “well done” provide sufficient feedback for learners. This attitude is often encouraged in teacher education and training as well.

For decades, we have known the distinction between formative and summative feedback without sufficiently considering it in the classroom. Summative feedback in the form of assessments still dominates in schools, while formative feedback is used only occasionally. However, the latter is very important because it provides students with crucial information on how to continue learning in order to achieve learning goals as well as better learning outcomes. To ensure that feedback actually reaches individual learners, teachers and teacher students need to familiarize themselves with the various forms of formative feedback.

My book From Assessment to Feedback. Applications in the Second/Foreign Language Classroom is divided into three parts:

Part I   Basic Concepts of Assessment and Feedback in the Foreign-Language Classroom

Part II  Assessment and Feedback in its Different Manifestations

Part III Summative Assessment in Combination with Formative Feedback   

My aim is to explain different manifestations of formative feedback in the context of school-based learning of English as a foreign language and to demonstrate them by means of concrete teaching examples. These examples – 24 in total (see Table p. X) – cannot only be adapted for other foreign languages but also transferred to other subjects. The TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) examples are fully elaborated and also include worksheets for the learners’ hand. I have prefaced each of these teaching examples with brief explanations for teachers. In addition, each chapter concludes with a Review, Reflect, Practice section, which can be considered a summary overview, as well as with the extensive glossary at the end of the book.

The few scholars who address formative feedback in teaching and learning sometimes start from misconceptions: They contrast inadequate instruction with self-directed learning without giving direct instruction its due. They have misinterpretations about self-directed learning, assuming that it will lead to success without preparation and guidance by the teacher. They propagate an unbalanced change of methods, although methods depend on subject-specific goals and content, the learning context and, last but not least, the personalities of teachers and learners. They demand transferability of content and procedures to real-life situations, but rarely apply cooperative learning forms in the sense of think-pair-share. Overall, I strive to avoid the aforementioned shortcomings and try not to repeat the mistake of some researchers who, above the proliferation of formative feedback, treat summative forms only marginally. I give summative feedback the importance it deserves; most importantly, I link it appropriately with formative feedback. Suggestions can be found in Chapter 14: How to Combine Summative Assessment with Formative Feedback.

I conclude the final chapter, What Teachers Should and Can Do about Assessment and Feedback, by urging all teachers not to advocate the elimination of grades but to combine them with formative feedback for individual learners.

In a nutshell: my documentation provides multiple ways of catching up with formative feedback and related worked examples from the classroom.

From Assessment to Feedback by Inez De Florio

Title: From Assessment to Feedback

ISBN: PB – 9781009218931, HB – 9781009218924

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About the Author: Inez De Florio

Inez De Florio is a professor in the Department of Humanities at the University of Kassel. Her main research interests are experimental studies, educational psychology and multilingualism....

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