Although feedback is seen as essential -for teachers professional development-too many teachers in OECD regard feedback in their schools as insufficient
Teacher feedback is broadly any communication teachers receive about their teaching, formally, or informally, based on some form of interaction with their work (e.g. observing classrooms and the teaching of students). Feedback can be based on different methods, such as classroom observation, student surveys, assessment of teachers’ knowledge, students test scores, self-assessment or discussions with parents.
As Professor Dylan Wiliam and David Didau, among others, have pointed out teachers often assume that the pupils they are teaching are in the process of learning. But appearances can be deceptive. Relying on teachers’ intuition about whether a lesson has been successful and hit home, or not, is not enough to determine whether the pupils are retaining the knowledge and are able to apply it usefully at some point in the future.
According to the OECD ‘Fair and effective feedback from multiple sources is essential for teachers’ professional development. Next to feedback from school leaders, peer feedback can be beneficial in many ways. Teachers can work with each other to develop systems of peer feedback to share knowledge on different aspect of teaching (e.g. lesson planning, classroom practices). Such systems also strengthen collaboration between teachers, which further boosts teacher job satisfaction.
The OECD TALIS survey of teachers shows, the most common sources of feedback are school principals (54% of teachers), members of the school management team (49%) and other teachers (42%). Feedback from external individual and bodies (29%) and assigned mentors (19%) are the two least common sources. Moreover, many individual teachers receive feedback from multiple sources:
Main TALIS findings on feedback:
- Across countries and economies participating in the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS), a majority of teachers report receiving feedback on different aspects of their work in their schools.
- Teacher feedback has a developmental focus, with many teachers reporting that it leads to improvements in their teaching practices, and other aspects of their work.
- However, not all feedback is seen as meaningful: nearly half of the teachers across TALIS countries report that teacher appraisal and feedback systems in their school are largely undertaken simply to fulfil administrative requirements.
- Teachers who consider that they receive meaningful feedback on their work also tend to have more confidence in their own abilities and to have higher job satisfaction.
Despite the positive outcomes of feedback, many teachers perceive the systems of appraisal and feedback in their school as insufficient to help in the development of teaching. More than half of teachers report that teacher appraisal and feedback in the school are largely undertaken to fulfil administrative requirements. In addition, less than 40% of teachers report that the best-performing teachers in their schools receive the greatest recognition (e.g. rewards, additional training or responsibilities) or that a teacher would be dismissed for consistently underperforming (31%).
Given the importance attached to feedback by Professors Hattie, Wiliam et al it is worrying that many teachers surveyed see feedback systems in their schools as largely administrative tasks, disconnected from professional development.
TALIS is the first international survey examining teaching and learning environments in schools. It asks teachers and school principals about their work, their schools and their classrooms. This cross-country analysis helps countries identify others facing similar challenges and learn about their policies.