Key messages

Consider the following key messages from this unit.

  • Oral feedback is the most regular and interactive form of feedback. It should be constructive and informative in order to help pupils take the next steps in their learning or progression with How science works (HSW) skills.
  • It is both direct (targeted to individuals or groups) and indirect (others listen and reflect on what has been said). At times it will be spontaneous and at times it should be structured and planned.
  • In offering oral feedback, the teacher is modelling the process and language that pupils can use in giving feedback to their teacher and peers.
  • Oral feedback should be developmental and offer specific details of ways forward, in relation to the shared learning objectives, learning outcomes and success criteria.
  • 'Wait-time' before and after questions or responses encourages pupils to consider and expand on their responses rather than waiting for the teacher to offer an answer.
  • Oral feedback can be used as part of an assessment strategy when assessing HSW.
  • Oral feedback should focus on structured shared learning outcomes and success criteria.

Excerpt from the Assessment for Learning (AfL) 8 schools project

Classroom dialogue (whole-class, group or paired discussion) is at the heart of good AfL as it enables pupils to develop their thinking and to learn from each other. Teachers need to develop pupils' dispositions, skills and confidence to engage in reciprocal talk within a positive climate for learning.


  • Vibrant, structured and focused dialogue provides pupils with the opportunity to dig deep into their own understanding and identify what they need to learn, support the learning of others, work collaboratively and enjoy learning as an active participant.
  • Dialogue is underdeveloped in many lessons and so AfL simply isn’t happening no matter what strategies the teacher uses.
  • Dialogue is sometimes avoided by teachers (and pupils) because it can result in 'loss of control' (disengagement and disruption). Typically, this is because pupils do not have the skills, protocols or habits of discussion or because discussion is insufficiently focused.