Divergent and convergent feedback: how science teachers conceptualise and practise oral feedback, and how students perceive it helps their learning


Feedback is frequently cited as an important practice in promoting student learning, yet reviews of research around written marking have concluded that the quality of existing evidence is insufficient to provide definitive answers as to what approaches are impactful. Even less is known about feedback during oral interactions, especially in authentic secondary science classrooms. This qualitative study examines oral feedback from both teachers’ and students’ perspectives, alongside an analysis of classroom practice. The study involved ten science teachers within two schools and 84 students interviewed from their classes. Comparative analysis resulted in the identification of teachers’ conceptualisations compared to their classroom practice and a theoretically derived definition of feedback. Analysis of classroom practice was grounded in students’ perceptions of what teachers said that helped them learn. This study makes an original contribution to knowledge regarding characteristics of oral feedback perceived by teachers and students to benefit learning in science. Following the analysis of 38 hours of lessons, three main types of oral interaction were found to constitute oral feedback: discrepancy and success criteria interactions, and open questions. Science teachers infrequently used these and were observed to utilise them in differing ways. This study has generated a theoretical ideal typical feedback framework, highlighting practical implications allied to teachers’ differing practices, developed from Torrance and Pryor’s (2001) model of assessment. The two ideal typical approaches to feedback are, the divergent approach, grounded in constructivist assumptions with students empowered to operate as dynamic co-agents; and the convergent approach, grounded in behaviourist assumptions with students acting as passive recipients. The study will be beneficial to teachers in reflecting on which aspects of their oral feedback practices are most likely to benefit learners in their classrooms, and policy makers and those involved in supporting educators to develop practices and nurture behaviours that promote student learning

Similar works

Full text


White Rose E-theses Online

Provided a free PDF time updated on 12/3/2018View original full text link

This paper was published in White Rose E-theses Online.

Having an issue?

Is data on this page outdated, violates copyrights or anything else? Report the problem now and we will take corresponding actions after reviewing your request.