A Feedback Idea that Didn't Stick

Last year, I tried giving feedback to pupils - about their homework - using a detailed marking scheme, highlighted to show successes and failures.  A pupil's feedback would look something like this:

differentiate sin to cos
use the chain rule to produce an extra multiplier of 2 (the derivative of the function inside sin)
keep 3 as a multiplier of the derivative
know to evaluate f’ at x=0
perform evaluation correctly
realise that rearranging to tan(x)=... is the first step
take square root to give tan(x)=...
remember to use +/- square roots
find building block angle from exact values
choose correct quadrants for solutions

work with fractions of pi correctly
not available, as you did not consider other solutions
state solution clearly
My hope was that the pupils would use the feedback to see where they had "gone right" as well as where they had gone wrong, and would be able to use it to help with corrections.

As it turned out, these feedback forms (returned to them electronically via the maths department Moodle installation) were time consuming to complete, and hard for pupils to interpret.  Some of the youngsters in my Higher class found them very useful, but most didn't, and the forms didn't have any impact on the quantity or quality of corrections being done.

You win some you lose some!  I guess this idea might work for someone else in a different situation.


  1. I find in my teaching (albeit a rather different field) that this kind of feedback is most productive for students making slips. Where they do, or certainly should, know what they should be doing this type of feedback raises their awareness and can also be an effective way of dealing with ingrained errors.
    On the other hand the feedback works less well for those who are making genuine errors - that is they are working at the (current) limits of their knowledge. Perhaps presenting the feedback before a review task would help these students more? Some of my weaker students find some security, and as a result become more adventurous, when I give them a solid framework - or a literal tick sheet to work from

  2. Exactly - the pupils that found this helpful were the ones who understood well enough to use the marking scheme as a scaffold. I am very hesitant about giving too much specific scaffolding to pupils before they attempt a homework - it removes the problem solving element which is so important.


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