Workshop on Descriptive Feedback

In the autumn of 2010, three workshops were held focusing on descriptive feedback. They arose from the needs of schools that were primarily in the role of peers. The aim of these workshops was to obtain information on how to give feedback so that it had a predictive value, was understandable, motivating and inspiring (not hurting). The aim was also to get acquainted with the ways - tools to be used by peers when observing (depending on the areas chosen by the school evaluated), try in practice the descriptive formulation of evaluation and recommendations.

After the workshop, the participants were:

- equipped with tools to get such information with

- able to create an assessment scale and formulate its individual values

- got a comprehensive view as to how to appreciate, show the deficiencies, make recommendations

- tried in practice to create a meaningful predicative formulation with regard to the evaluated criteria
- described the benefits and pitfalls of descriptive feedback

- enriched by the experience of other participants

The course of the workshop

  • formulation of the participants' objectives towards the descriptive feedback - work in a community circle
  • distinguishing the roles in peer review, the roles of peers, evaluated schools - Venn diagram
  • preparation of peers for the peer review - evaluation of the partner schools, what and how to evaluate, preparation of questions, group work
  • giving feedback in a descriptive manner, and making recommendations - practical training of formulations
  • principles of feedback - work in groups and joint evaluation


How to give feedback and recommendations?

According to Wikipedia, the term of feedback describes a mechanism in which information about the past or the present influences the same phenomenon in the present or future. Norbert Wiener (the founder of cybernetics) is said to have compared feedback to the white stick that gives the blind information about their movement, thus affecting their further movement. Feedback is especially valuable when it provides information that the organization, which is the school in our case, needs for its further progress. But the evaluation does not give enough information if it does not contain description in addition to value judgments.


So what are the basic principles of descriptive feedback?

Feedback is:

- descriptive, not evaluating

- providing feedback corresponds to the objectives

- when evaluating, we always consciously compare and choose a comparative scale

- based on as many information sources as possible

- to be provided so that it could be used by the school


The participants tried to formulate recommendations and appreciations. As for appreciation, important is what is obvious and is different than before (shift). Recommendation is not a statement of the bad, unsatisfactory, poor, but we give suggestions for improvement or we ask further questions.


Example of descriptive feedback to the school environment:

It is immediately apparent in the school that everyone is actively involved in the operations of the school and in teaching. On the walls in the classrooms and corridors there are primarily creations by the students, outputs of various projects, photo galleries from events that document the actual operation of the school. The school building has been renovated; each floor is tuned to a different colour. The pupils themselves take care of flower arrangements. As new visitors to the school, we would appreciate a clearer guidance system of the school.