Exploring Teachers' Interpretations Of Feedback In Primary Literacy Classroom Settings

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


It is now widely acknowledged that formative assessment can be beneficial to students’ learning. However, there is also evidence that teachers encounter a range of issues in the enactment of formative practice inside the classroom (Black & Wiliam, 1998, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012; Swaffield, 2011). This study investigates teachers’ interpretations of feedback in terms of theory and practice and it explores how this might be informed by their conceptions of learning in the context of primary literacy lessons. This research involves three Year 5 teachers and one Year 4 from three different primary schools in London. The main sources of data comprise classroom observations and teachers’ interviews. The lessons observed were centred on teacher feedback relating to language and literacy issues in ordinary classroom settings. A semi- structured interview format was used to explore the teachers’ interpretation and intentions in the feedback process. Follow-up interviews with the teachers were carried out in order to ask them to comment on specific instances informed by the lessons observed. The main findings reveal diverse perspectives and nuances that arise when teachers describe the complexities involved with verbal and written forms of feedback. Furthermore, the data analysis illustrates how the intersection between principles of assessment and individual teacher’s views on learning, influence the different ways in which they manage to balance competing priorities for expressing quality of work; and how their feedback practice relates to what they believe formative assessment is. It is envisaged that this study contributes to our understanding of the conceptual and pedagogic complexity of teacher feedback in formative assessment. The implications of this work are relevant to teacher professional development and school development.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorChristine Harrison (Supervisor) & Constant Leung (Supervisor)

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