This inquiry focuses on how action specific feedback can be used to improve the quality and accuracy of scientific writing within my mixed ability, Year 8 Biology class. The co-creation of literacy specific success criteria and the provision of Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time (DIRT) were also considered. The following research questions were addressed through the inquiry:
- What impact does action specific feedback DIRT have on pupils’ accuracy of scientific writing?
- What impact does action specific feedback and DIRT have on pupils’ attitudes towards extended writing in Science?
- How useful is the provision of co-created, science specific, literacy success criteria for pupils when writing in Science?
The intervention spanned 3 lessons. It involved the co-creation of scientific, literacy specific success criteria for pupils to self-check their work against during a graph analysis extended writing task. I marked the task, providing pupils with actionable, written feedback. Pupils were then given Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time (DIRT) within a lesson to complete their prescribed actions.
A sub-group of 6 mixed gender and ability pupils were focused upon during the collection of data. Qualitative, attitudinal data was generated through observations of pupils during intervention lessons, semi-structured interviews and questionnaires. Quantitative data was generated through pre- and post-intervention literacy scores and Science levels.
All pupils within the focus group demonstrated improved learning outcomes in terms of scientific literacy and Science levels post intervention. Furthermore, the pupils also appeared to gain satisfaction and confidence through both understanding how to improve their work and through carrying out improvements. Co-created success criteria appeared to be of limited use to pupils during the initial task. However, the success criteria’s use to pupils appeared to increase following feedback. Another finding was that pupils often required one to one oral feedback to clarify and be able to engage with written feedback.
The findings suggest that the use of specific feedback and DIRT had a positive impact upon the accuracy of scientific writing within my class, as well as upon pupils’ attitudes towards extended writing in Science. The provision of co-created, science specific, literacy success criteria for pupils when writing in Science appears to be most effective if pupils have an understanding of how the criteria applies to the context of their work.
Whilst the findings are specific to my Year 8 Biology class, the implications of the inquiry may be relevant to teaching and learning in a broader context, impacting upon pupils in other contexts, myself as a teacher, my colleagues and school, and potentially teaching professionals in other schools.