Assessing the Impact of Different Types of Feedback Upon the Confidence of Adolescent Boys as They Write: The Benefits of Praise and Strategy — Dr. Brad Merrick, Barker College, Australia

  • Writing (2009-10)

In this action research project, student motivation and confidence were investigated in relation to writing, and the theoretical lens of Carol Dweck’s ‘Mindset’ theory provided the vehicle through which to explore how two distinctly different types of feedback impacted upon the success of boys’ writing in their English class.

A pre-survey identified that the boys had a strong desire to receive ongoing feedback as part of their writing experience. Amongst a small sample of 23 Year 8 boys, divided into two groups, the use of two contrasting types of feedback, identified as either ‘process and praise’ type comments or ‘product and rubric’ feedback, were assessed as the boys completed a unit of work about the Globe Theatre in the time of William Shakespeare.

Data were collected before, during and after the unit of work. The findings suggest that the students who received ‘process and praise’ feedback for their writing increased their confidence and use of strategy, attained a higher level of achievement for the final assessment, and wrote more prolifically than those students who had only received feedback focused on ‘product and rubric’. From the analysis of the data, the results of this action research suggest that providing written feedback which contains both supportive comments and suggestions about strategy, appears to be much more powerful in increasing the self-efficacy and confidence of student writers in contrast to just providing feedback via a marking rubric with a level of attainment (a written mark). In contrast to the ‘praise and strategy’ feedback, this use of ‘rubric and product’ feedback appeared to limit student motivation and impact upon increased levels of achievement during later writing attempts. This data suggests that the use of ‘praise and strategy feedback’ facilitated an increased level of engagement and confidence, which led to a more sophisticated level of writing being achieved by the boys. 

Read the full report.