Source: Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, Vol. 20, No. 4, November 2012, 473–490
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
In this article, the authors focused on observed and perceived feedback on practice among teachers, who participated in a peer coaching program.
The authors focused on two issues: the interplay of observed feedback dimensions and elements and perceptions of that feedback.
Feedback elements were made operational as open-ended, closed, guiding, solution- focused, and evocative questions, continuous questioning, summarizing, acknowledging, judging, hinting, finishing sentences, and providing examples from one’s own classroom or experience.
The dimensions of effective feedback were goal directed, specific, detailed, and neutral; ineffective feedback was defined as nongoal/person directed, vague, nondetailed, and either too positive or too negative.
Twelve teachers from two Dutch primary schools participated in the program.
Data were collected through videotaped peer coaching sessions, questionnaires, and interviews.
The results on the four feedback dimensions showed that the dimensions of details and positivity differ among the phases. Both dimensions were low in the observation phases, moderate in the analysis phases, and high in the reflection phases. Second, the results showed that more expected effective feedback elements were provided than expected ineffective elements.
In addition, the elements of the peer coaching program were proven as an effective professional development activity: watching video excerpts, asking open-ended, solution-focused questions, acknowledging coached teachers, and helping them to tackle their goals were confirmed as parts of an effective feedback environment.
Furthermore, the authors found that closed questions, summarizing, and acknowledging were generally not effective. Effective summaries were accompanied by an open-ended question, which provoked coached teachers to elaborate more and probably thereby affected the feedback dimensions.
In general, teachers had positive perceptions of the feedback. The interviews also indicated that teachers were positive about the feedback they received from their peer coaches. They had different views on what effective feedback is, but had similar views on what ineffective feedback is: an unusable hint or too confronting comments. Effective feedback was seen either as useful hints, perspectives from colleagues, compliments, questions, and a reflection or reaction.
These results indicated that it is not only important to provide expected effective elements, but also that they really are effective in terms of the dimensions.
The authors argue that peer coaches should stimulate coached teachers to become goal directed, specific, detailed, and neutral by using feedback elements so as to optimize feedback processes.
They conclude that this research indicated that two aspects are crucial when feedback is provided in peer coaching programs. They suggest that if feedback providers give expected ineffective elements, it is important that these elements somehow provoke receivers to be goal directed, specific, detailed, and neutral.