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Feedback plays a crucial role in learning, motivation, and achievement (Hattie, 2009; Narciss & Huth, 2004) but surprisingly, few studies have systematically explored its meaning taking into consideration the socio-cultural contexts in which it occurs (Goldstein, 2006; Shute, 2008). Using Hattie and Timperley’s (2007) model of feedback as a framework, this study examined teacher enactment of feedback as well as student reactions to feedback to understand what teachers and students consider to be relevant and effective feedback in high-stakes exam-oriented contexts. In particular, the study focused on the factors that might have influenced feedback options and student reactions to naturally occurring written and oral feedback.
Embracing a constructivist paradigm, the study adopted a multiple case-study design (Yin, 2003) to examine the practice of feedback in two secondary schools in Singapore. Data was mainly gathered through lesson observations of four upper secondary social studies teachers, two in each school, and semi-structured interviews with these teachers and 16 Express (high-ability) students and 14 Normal (Academic) (lowability) students from the eight classrooms observed. Document analysis further complemented data gathered.
Data analysis indicated that despite variations in terms of teachers’ background, there were few differences among the four teachers in terms of feedback delivery and content. They also gave similar feedback to their Express and Normal (Academic) students regardless of the variations among the students in terms of ability. Their feedback practices were teacher-centred, which left control of the feedback process in their hands. The content of feedback was focused predominantly at task level as such feedback was considered relevant and effective to promote student performance in the subject. Express and Normal (Academic) students’ responses to feedback were comparable. They were generally supportive of their teachers’ feedback practices which they believed were beneficial for their success in the high-stakes examinations.
The socio-cultural context acted as the overarching influence on feedback. Three other mediating influences−(a) goal orientation, (b) notions of power, and (c) student emotions−also had an impact on feedback enactment and student response to feedback in a high-stakes exam-oriented context. The study highlights the implications that current feedback practices have for the learning of social studies as well as puts forth recommendations to promote feedback practices that support student capacities for self-regulation and life-long learning.
|Appears in Collections:||Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)|
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