Menu

Education Today Logo


newsletter

Education Today Cover Browse Issue

Feedback essential for better writing

News Image

Student writing skills have declined by nearly 24 points since 2011 according to the latest NAPLAN results data. Only 79.5% of Year 9 students met the minimum writing standards in the 2018 literacy test, compared to 84% in 2011. (As reported in and ACARA 2018).

With that in mind, formative feedback is an essential tool in developing core writing skills for life.

When two students in the same performance level are asked to answer a question, the one who has practiced these types of questions before will always get to the answer quicker, because they already know what is asked of them by how the question is phrased. The other student might struggle, or take more time to respond, because they aren't familiar with the style of the question.

This is why feedback is essential to improving student literacy skills, and in turn, NAPLAN scores. It shouldn't just involve a grade, but instead take students through a particular problem that's similar to the types of questions asked in NAPLAN, which they can then apply later on.

Formative feedback is particularly important when it comes to the writing element of NAPLAN. Students are normally asked to write either a persuasive or narrative piece, and are marked both for the quality of their argument, as well as the core elements such as grammar, punctuation and spelling.

A formative feedback service like Studiosity, that highlights a few examples of a particular mistake – like punctuation, spelling or grammar – with the idea that the student will then recognise that error throughout their draft and in future essays – goes a long way in helping students succeed in this type of writing assessment.

It's all too easy to tell your kids that "practice makes perfect." This was made even easier when writer Malcolm Gladwell famously put forward the idea that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice (doing it in a way that pushes your skill set as much as possible) can make you an 'expert in any field'.

Not to say that practice isn't helpful, but practice needs to be done effectively, this means formative feedback to help them think critically about their work, by showing them how to get to an answer, not simply providing one.

Timely study support impacts a student’s academic self-efficacy and future learning progression – a sometimes overlooked key ingredient to a student's success in NAPLAN. A literature review by Dr Gerard Calnin (2017) pinpoints driving forces on a student’s performance – including timely, regular feedback from “a more knowledgeable other”.

It identifies that immediate, positive support experiences assist progression towards goals, and negative experiences, such as the inability to complete tasks, can throw a student backwards in their learning progress. This can be avoided with timely intervention and formative feedback that helps them to succeed and progress towards their academic goals, and standardised testing such as NAPLAN.

Key results of writing skills decline over the last seven years

  • Mean writing scores have decreased nationally falling nearly 24 points for Years 7 and 9, 18 points for Year 5, and 8.7 points for Year 3 since 2011.
  • In 2011, 84% of Year 9 students across Australia met the minimum standards in writing. In 2018, only 79.5% did.
  • In 2018, only 81.3% of Year 9, 88% of Year 7, and 91.4% of Year 5 students in NSW, reached the writing benchmark.

11 Apr 2019 | National
AITSL Stakeholder Survey now open News Image

Teachers, school leaders and the entire education sector can have their say in the 2019 Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Survey which is open now. Read More

11 Apr 2019
Early career teachers get dramatic with NIDA News Image

NIDA continues to invest in the creative practice of early career teachers in primary and secondary schools with the 2019 Creative Ambassador’s Initiative.
Read More

10 Apr 2019 | National
New teachers love induction support app News Image

Downloaded more than 17,000 times, the AITSL My Induction app offers expert advice, answers to frequently asked questions and allows new teachers to track their professional wellbeing. Read More

10 Apr 2019 | National
Reform of preschools front and centre in election period News Image

Research shows that two years of quality preschool sets a child up for success, and happily the issue is gaining traction with politicians.
Read More

10 Apr 2019 | National
Domestic violence causes homelessness News Image

The number of people seeking help from homelessness services due to domestic and family violence has risen in recent years but only 4% of those who approached a homelessness service for long-term housing actually received it. Read More