Teachers’ responses to feedback from evaluators: What feedback characteristics matter?

2016

Conducted by Trudy L. Cherasaro, R. Marc Brodersen, Marianne L. Reale, and David C. Yanoski.

Purpose of study

To support efforts to increase teacher effectiveness by examining how teachers value and use different aspects of the feedback they receive via teacher evaluation systems.

Research questions

  • What are teachers’ perceptions of the usefulness and accuracy of the feedback they received as a part of their evaluation system and what are their perceptions of their evaluator’s credibility and their access to resources related to the feedback?
  • How are the perceptions of the usefulness of feedback, the accuracy of feedback, evaluator credibility, and access to resources interrelated?
  • How are the usefulness of feedback, the accuracy of feedback, evaluator credibility, and access to resources related to the response to feedback?

Population/sample

The researchers used a sample of teachers in seven districts across two states who volunteered to participate. It consisted of 317 pre-K through 12th grade teachers being evaluated with the district’s new teacher evaluation system. These teachers taught both core (e.g., English, math) and non-core (art, physical education) subjects in urban locales, rural locales, and small towns. Over three-quarters (76.7%) of these teachers responded to the Examining Evaluator Feedback Survey (Cherasaro et al., 2015), which asked teachers to reflect on the feedback they had received from evaluators during the 2014-15 school year.

Major results

  • Teachers received written and verbal feedback one to four times during the 2014-15 school year.
  • Most teachers agreed that their evaluator was credible (74%) and that the feedback they received was accurate (70%) and useful (55%). Two-thirds (66%) said that their feedback included specific suggestions for improvement. Similar proportions agreed or strongly agreed that they had access to resources related to the feedback they received (54%) and that they had responded to this feedback (60%).
  • Evaluator credibility was the most important characteristic affecting teachers’ responses to feedback. Feedback that was timely, accurate, based on observational data from a typical day in the classroom, and accompanied by sufficient time to plan for implementing feedback were also very important or critical to teachers’ responses to this feedback.
  • Teachers’ responses to feedback was strongly correlated with the extent to which teachers found the feedback to be useful, which in turn was strongly correlated with the credibility of their evaluators, which was strongly correlated with the perceived accuracy of the feedback.
  • After the relationship between evaluator credibility and usefulness was accounted for statistically, accuracy had little additional influence on usefulness. In addition, the relationship between access to resources and teachers’ responses to feedback was not significant after the
  • the perceived usefulness of the feedback was statistically controlled.

Conclusions/recommendations

Findings suggest that state and district education leaders take several steps to improve the effectiveness of teacher evaluation systems:

  • Review evaluator training on how to provide feedback to teachers with an emphasis on strengthening the usefulness of the feedback.
  • Examine policies related to the usefulness of teacher feedback and/or collect data on potential barriers to providing useful feedback.
  • Identify ways to ensure that feedback is frequent, timely, and includes specific suggestions to improve content knowledge, instructional strategies, and classroom management.
  • Direct teachers to targeted resources or professional development opportunities.
  • Highlight suggestions to improve content knowledge and classroom management strategies— more than half of teachers said these suggestions were important to respond to feedback, but fewer than half received such suggestions in their feedback.
  • Focus on ways to build evaluator credibility—although most teachers agreed that their evaluator was credible, their perceptions of the evaluator’s credibility were significantly related to the usefulness of the feedback and to their response to it.
  • Improve evaluator credibility by building evaluators’ knowledge of the content being evaluated, knowledge of how students learn, knowledge of teaching practices, understanding of the curriculum, and understanding of the teacher evaluation system.

FFT focus

The teacher evaluation systems examined in this study used observational protocols based on the Framework for Teaching, thus the findings regarding selection and training of evaluators applies to others using this instrument in their teacher evaluation systems.

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