As many teacher performance, review and appraisals (PRAs) will be taking place during this term, it seems relevant to review the available theoretical frameworks on both the giving of feedback and the effectiveness of goal-setting.
This is particularly important for two reasons; one, the emphasis that OfSTED places on the role of leaders and managers in bringing about rigorous performance management and improvement; two, research suggests that one in three organisational feedback interventions result in a decrease in job performance (Kluger and De, Nisi, 1996).
To undertake this task I have used Gary P. Latham, Bonnie Hayden Cheng and Krista Macpherson's chapter on Theoretical frameworks for and empirical evidence on providing feedback to employees as the source of evidence based research and which was published in Sutton et al's (2012) book Feedback : The communication of praise, criticism and advice.
Given the range of issues involved, this post the focus will be on the effectiveness of goal-setting in bringing about improvement in job performance.
- Locke and Latham's (2002) goal-setting theory states that specific high goals lead to higher performance than easily achieved goals or goals that are non-specific. Locke and Latham argue that feedback only has value to the extent to which it leads to subsequent action and the setting and gaining commitment to specific high goals.
- Using a field experiment Latham, Mitchell and Dossett (1978) found that employees who received feedback and had specific high goals/targets, performed better than employees receiving generic feedback, with no goals set, or employees who received no feedback and no subsequent setting of goals.
- As for feedback by employees on a managers performance, Tourish and Tourish (2012), found that 360 degree feedback from employees made a difference when managers believed they could do what they were being ask of. Self-efficacy would appear to be a key moderating variable, with managers needing a degree of support to ensure they have the confidence to act on the feedback received.
So what are the implications of the above for teachers and managers?
It would appear that the ubiquitous SMART goals do have a role to play in teacher PRAs. However, what matters is the skill by which these SMART goals are set, in terms of their appropriateness and challenge.
Skill is also required is not just what goals are set, but how those goals are set, so the teach/member of staff has the confidence to achieve what they have been asked of.
None of this should be particularly 'earth-shattering' but there again we probably have all experienced poorly delivered feedback, with imprecise goals and which has led to a reduction in confidence.
Next week part two of this review of the evidence on providing feedback will focus on the appraising and coaching of employees, and who is best placed to do it.
Kluger, A N and De Nisi, (1996). The effects of feedback interventions on performance : A historical review, a meta analysis, and a preliminary feedback intervention theory, Pyschological Bulletin, 119, 254- 284.
Latham, G.P., Mitchell, T.R., and Dossett, D. L (1978). The importance of participative goal setting and anticipated rewards on goal difficulty and job performance, Journal of Applied Psychology, 63 pp 163 - 171
Latham, G.P., Hayden Cheng, B., and Macpherson, K. (2012) Theoretical frameworks for and empirical evidence on providing feedback to employees, pp 187 - 200 in Sutton, R.M. Hornsey, M.J., and Douglas Feedback : The communication of praise, criticism and advice, Oxford, Peter Lang.
Locke, E.A. and Latham, G. P. (2002) Building a practically useful theory of task setting and task motivation : A 35 year odyssey. American Psychologist, 57, pp 705 - 717
Sutton, R.M. Hornsey, M.J., and Douglas (2012) Feedback : The communication of praise, criticism and advice, Oxford, Peter Lang.
Tourish, D. and Tourish, M (2012) Upward communication in organisations : How ingratiation and and defensive reasoning impede thoughtful action, pp 233 - 246 in Sutton, R.M. Hornsey, M.J., and Douglas Feedback : The communication of praise, criticism and advice, Oxford, Peter Lang.