The effects of giving performance feedback to teachers: a randomised controlled experiment.


Dr Robert J. Coe, CEM Centre, Durham University, Durham DH1 3UZ


School departments matched by size and randomly allocated (researcher toss of coin) to 'feedback or 'control'. Pre- and post-test measures of teacher attitudes and student attainment.


9 schools/colleges in England (all in ALIS throughout 1994-7).


44 A level teachers (of English, French, Mathematics, Physics). Participants were volunteers who had agreed to take part and supply information (from total of 172).


Feedback group received confidential class-by-class analysis of value added performance and attitudes of all students taught by them in 1994-6, and predictions for current (1997 exam) students. Printed feedback sent by post with accompanying advice on interpretation and use. Both groups had previously received ALIS departmental feedback for 94-6. Neither group was told their status.

Data collected

Teacher attitudes for both groups measured by Likert questionnaire items before and after feedback sent. Eight scales developed from questionnaire for attitudes to feedback, efficacy, anxiety etc with alpha and test-retest reliability 0.6 - 0.8. Student attainment measured by pre-test (average GCSE grade) and post-test (A level), together with socio-demographic measures from self-report. Six teachers interviewed after post-test questionnaire about attitudes and use of feedback. These and open comments on questionnaire cast doubt on validity of interpretations of attitude constructs. Feedback group teachers completed (n=15) a short implementation-check questionnaire. Post-test questionnaire completed by 40 teachers. Students' 1997 A level grades unavailable for 14 teachers (=7% of student sample).


Students taught by 'feedback' teachers achieved 0.34 A level grades (95% CI: [0.02, 0.66]) better than control, after adjustment for pre-test. This is a moderate but significant effect.


Giving performance feedback to teachers may well be a cheap and simple way to produce significant widespread gains in attainment.

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