“Alright children, today we are going to be learning about the legislation of health promotion”
“Ah, Sir, we don’t even know what health promotion is, could we take a step back?”
“Of course, I’m glad we had this conversation”
“Thanks Sir, this has really helped our education.”
Although just slightly paraphrased this is what the literature tells us about our issue of student feedback on comprehension. Effective and supported student feedback is the difference between a 1 way learning environment and a learning conversation. It is no surprise than that there is a collection of literature in the area of student feedback, though it should be noted that in many cases the research focuses on macro feedback, feedback that reports on a program at the end, rather than concurrent feedback in a lesson. In short the general consensus is that student feedback to the teacher is an important part of students achieving their goals.
A search through academic literature shows that the gaining student voice on comprehension is a widespread cause of research with articles from Germany, Sweden, Australia, England, America and Malaysia being read when exploring the relevant literature. This suggests that the issue is not just local to one culture but in fact is a universal concept.
The majority of literature focuses on students being able to report to the teacher after the course or class on how they went. Though the literature does strongly suggest that student feedback is vital for teachers to moderate their classes and provide the best education this post class feedback is a step back from where we want to be heading in terms of teachers being able to adjust their delivery on the fly to ensure best results for students.
Articles that have focussed on concurrent student feedback on comprehension such as Rauschenbach (1994) and Shepherd (2011) have been strong in their recommendation that gaining student voice on their understanding is an important yet difficult facet of teaching, with both papers stressing the need for it to occur while discussing the problems in finding an effective method.
This research, to this writer at least, suggests that this is an issue that is both recognised in its presence and in its need for further solutions. I’d invite readers to share whether they have always felt that teachers knew where they were with their learning or if there were times that it felt like you were on a whole different planet.