Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 21, No. 8, 990–1009, 2015.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study presents an evaluation of a theory-based trajectory for professional development called FeTiP (FeedbackTheory into Practice). It aims to have an observable effect on teacher classroom behavior. FeTiP integrates five components: (a) providing theory, (b) demonstration, (c) practice, (d) feedback, and (e) coaching. Its goal is to help teachers to expand their feedback behavior in the classroom to provide more, and more effective (i.e. learning-enhancing), feedback. The authors describe the effects of FeTiP on the feedback behavior of teachers and attempt to explain why these effects occurred.
The authors conducted an effect study with a repeated measurement design, in which they performed a pre-test and a post-test. Both the pre-test and post-test consisted of analyzing a video recording of one lesson of each teacher. The pre-test took place before the start of FeTiP.
Seven months later, a week after FeTiP had ended, they performed the post-test. The authors analyzed the video recordings of both the pre-test and post-test.
The participants were 29 teachers from a school department of lower vocational education at a school in the southern part of the Netherlands. Two of the teachers also participated in the school administration. The school administration consisted of three members, i.e. the two participating teachers and a school principal.
The author videotaped the teachers before and after FeTiP during one lesson of 50 min. From these lessons and for each teacher, they selected one fragment of ten contiguous minutes of both pre-test and post-test recordings in which there was interaction between the teacher and students to maximize the incidence of feedback interventions available for evaluation.
The findings reveal that teachers showed significant progress in the frequency of the feedback they provided after following FeTiP. In the post-tests, they also provided significantly more specific feedback, and their ratio of positive and negative feedback increased. The authors found no differences for age, gender, or experience in the total frequency of feedback, specific feedback, and the ratio of positive and negative feedback at the pre-test condition.
The author hypothesize from the results of their study that FeTiP is successful for helping teachers to expand their feedback behavior and to provide more learning-enhancing feedback and to do so more frequently. The design was a repeated measurement design, in which the researcher performed a pre-test and a post-test. A comparison of the pretest of this group of teachers with the results they found with the earlier study with 78 teachers did not make this a true experimental design. It only showed that during the pre-test, the current teachers already performed significantly better than the group of teachers from the authors' earlier study. The fact that the video fragments used for measuring were part of the training for the group of teachers in this study and not for the comparison group is a weakness in this study.
However, although the in this study participating group already provided more as well as more specific feedback than the group of 78 teachers, there was considerable progress between the pre-test and the post-test. Hence, the author have found that it is possible to influence teacher feedback behavior and to help teachers transfer theory into practice.
She hypothesize that involving the school administration and collegial support are fundamental features of the trajectory that they carried out. In this theoretical framework, they already endeavored to clarify this assertion.
From her own data, the author could not find clear clues for why this combination of interventions was effective in helping teachers to expand their feedback behavior in the classroom. However, she would like to propose a couple of hypotheses. In the first place, at the individual level, teachers experienced the effect of learning-enhancing feedback themselves. The combination of experiencing the effect of feedback themselves and observing the effect on their students might be a powerful combination in teacher learning.
Secondly, the involvement and participation of the school administration in, for instance, the feedback conversations, helped the school administrators provide learning-enhancing feedback to the teachers in their role as leaders. The author hypothesize that through involving the whole department and management, they influenced the feedback culture in the department.
The author argue that the feedback culture in a school is essential for the sustainability of learning. Negative feedback, however, creates restricted emotional spaces that close possibilities for learning. In the theoretical framework, the author argued that trajectories for professional development should take into account the complexity of teaching and the demand for direct responses. In FeTiP, the author endeavored doing just that by designing interventions that were carried out in teachers’ own classrooms, aiming to approximate practice as much as possible. On the basis of the data presented in this study, the author cannot conclude whether these classroom interventions were more effective in helping the teachers in changing their classroom practices than the other interventions outside the classroom. She suggest more research that approximates practice as much as possible.
Consequently, in developing effective professional development programs, future researchers might seek for differences in the way teachers change their feedback behavior in the classroom after the various interventions. A further suggestion would be for future researchers to carry out a trajectory for professional development and also to collect data on the influence of the school administration through interviews and questionnaires. Alternatively, school trajectories could be compared to open programs.