Audio feedback

Evaluating the impact of feedback using an audio tool compared to written feedback

Description of the innovation

Teachers of Year 12 A-level mathematics and sociology trialled recording digital audio feedback and sharing this with pupils (for example via school email) instead of providing more traditional written feedback. Pupils accessed the feedback through mobile devices, and where this wasn’t possible, through home computers.

Summary of the evaluation

The study involved a total of 19 classes of Year 12 pupils from seven urban secondary schools where there was a lower than national average proportion of disadvantaged pupils. Assignment to treatment was carried out at a whole class level using GCSE Attainment 8 scores to minimise the difference in prior attainment between control and treated cohorts.

During the trial, pupils in treated groups received recorded audio feedback on three pieces of their work, while control groups received conventional written feedback.

The effect size was measured by comparing GCSE grades with post-test scores.

Summary of findings

The study found that the use of verbal feedback (using an audio tool), delivered over a discrete topic, was more effective than written feedback in improving test outcomes in sociology and mathematics A-level (effect sizes +0.15 for sociology and +0.18 for mathematics). Effect sizes were similar for boys and girls, but were negative (-0.64) for disadvantaged sociology pupils (although the number of these pupils was small).

We also found that the use of this intervention may have a positive impact on workload for teachers of A-level sociology, but that it had a statistically significant negative impact on the workload of mathematics A-level teachers compared to the work involved in providing conventional written feedback.

Mathematics pupils reported finding conventional written feedback more useful than the use of an audio tool (at a statistically significant level), whereas sociology pupils found the opposite (again at a statistically different level).

Lead school

  • Notre Dame High School, Sheffield

Schools involved

  • All Saints Catholic High School, Sheffield
  • King Ecgberts, Sheffield
  • King Edward VII, Sheffield
  • Lymm High School, Lymm
  • The McAuley Catholic High School, Doncaster
  • Tytherington School, Macclesfield
  • Wilmslow High School, Wilmslow

Main findings

  • Overall effect sizes were +0.15 for sociologiy and +0.18 for maths
  • Effect sizes were similar for boys and girls, but negative (-0.64) for disadvantaged sociology pupils

Download the protocol document