Mid-year exams provide an ideal opportunity to give effective feedback based on how students have managed their exams. We should use this opportunity (since we return the exam papers to the students) to do more than just mark correct vs incorrect.
To make best use of the exams, consider these aspects for each student:
- Content: Try to see which areas/topics are difficult and why? Is it because of a basic misunderstanding of key concepts, gaps in basic required pre-knowledge or lack of sufficient study/effort (NB: we should not just assume that a low mark = lack of effort).
- Study Methods: Try to see evidence of inadequate study methods - eg rote learning which leads to an inability to answer questions requiring insight or opinion based on evidence.
- SEL aspects: Do you see a marked difference between in-class vs exam performance? eg uncreative, limited or confused exam responses might indicate high levels of anxiety.
All of these insights are useful feedback that you can use to write really useful report comments and to assist your students in the second half of the year.
Exams can also provide useful feedback to you:
- You should look at particular questions’ effectiveness if most students got them wrong: was your question really testing the concept, or was it perhaps more a test of being able to decode and answer the question?
- Also, you could possibly consider changing your approach to teaching a particular section or topic if many students performed poorly in it.
From Hattie & Timperley:
Effective feedback answers three questions (relevant to teachers and students):