Actions Speak Louder Than Words: How Should Attributional Feedback be Communicated to Students in Classrooms for the Most Achievement Gain in Mathematics?
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractWhile the role of attributional feedback on student learning and achievement has been previously studied in laboratory settings, the importance of these types of feedback in real-time classroom settings is yet to be examined. This study attempted at exploring whether attributional feedback is present in interactions between teachers and students in natural classroom settings and how much they contribute to students' achievement in mathematics. Using an observational coding system, 55 one hour mathematics classrooms were coded for three different types of attributional feedback: direct attributional feedback, indirect attributional feedback, and strategy feedback. Direct attributional feedback consisted of explicit statements that were effort-oriented, ability- oriented, or knowing-oriented. Indirect attributional feedback consisted of teacher behavior that implicitly conveyed attributional messages to students. Behaviors such as unsolicited offers of help, giving credit to students, abandoning students, and calling out student name publicly were coded as indirect attributional behavior in this study. In addition, "why", "how", "what" strategy questions and strategy statements were coded as strategy feedback in this study. The results of this study indicated that while both direct and indirect attributional feedback are present in natural classroom settings, there is a significant difference between the number of times each type occurs. Teachers are more likely to convey attributional messages to students through indirect behavior compared to explicit attributional statements. When these types of feedback were examined in a model predicting students' mathematics achievement scores, the results showed that attributional feedback on their own significantly predicted student achievement but when it was combined with strategy feedback a stronger association with achievement scores occurred. Amazingly, it should be noted that in this model, direct attributional feedback indicated a negative association with mathematics achievement whereas indirect attributional feedback and strategy feedback indicated a positive association. These findings reveal that attributional feedback play an important role in student achievement in mathematics and the most effective way to present students with these types of feedback is to convey them indirectly and in combination with strategy feedback.
Degree ProgramGraduate College