Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Theoretical Frameworks for Providing Feedback to Teachers - Part Two

In this post two key questions will be asked
  • Who is best placed to give feedback or manage the performance, review and appraisal (PRA)?
  • How important are personality types in influencing the effectiveness of PRA?
As in my last post 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 (published in Sutton et al's (2012) book Feedback : The communication of praise, criticism and advice.) as the source material.

A primary objective of PRAs is to bring about continuous improvement, yet on so many occasions this fails to happen.  So it seems reasonable to ask who is best suited to undertake the role of giving feedback or undertaking the PRA.  In the context of a school or college, the HOD, Senior Teacher or Head-teacher would appear to be the most appropriate individual. However, Dweck's (1999) implicit person theory (IPT) suggests that this traditional hierarchial practice may need to be reconsidered.

IPT theory states the likelihood of giving developmental feedback is a function of an individual's belief of whether ability is fixed or capable of being developed.  A number of empirical studies have suggested the desirability of knowing a manager's (head-teacher, senior teacher or HOD) views on the malleability of ability before relying on that manager to provide developmental coaching, or allowing them to conduct formal PRAs.

Higgins' (1997)  theory of regulatory focus and fit, stresses the importance of taking into account the personalities of both the appraiser and the appraisee.  In this theory personalities are divided into two types, personalities with a :
  • Promotion focus - goals are seemed as a desirable end state
  • Prevention focus - trying to avoid error or failure.
Sue-Chan, Wood and Latham (2012) found that when feedback was given by an individual with a prevention focus, those appraisees who also had a prevention focus performed significantly better than others with a promotion focus.  Surprisingly, the majority of individuals performed better when the feedback received was presented by an individual who had a promotion focus - what worked, what could we do more of, what next) - regardless of whether they (the appraisee) had a prevention or promotion focus.

Sue-Chan and Latham (2004) also explore the issue of who is the best source of feedback : manager, external coach, peers or self and interestingly found that external coaches were superior to peer and self-coaching when increasing teamwork.  This could be explained by external coaches being seen as far more credible than peers or others.

So what are the implications for PRAs in schools and colleges.
  • Thought must be given to who participates in the PRA, the automatic default response that it should be the Head-teacher/ senior teacher or HOD may contribute to the oft lack of success of a PRA
  • All other things being equal, feedback given with a promotion focus is likely to lead more successful PRA outcomes.  PRA models using a solutions focus orientation are worthy of further consideration.
  • Finding ways of accessing external coaches maybe worthy of consideration.
In my next post I'll be considering the implications for the receivers of feedback and will be referring to Sheila Heen and Douglas Stone's  recent book Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (Viking/Penguin, 2014),


Dweck, C. S.  (1986). Motivational processes affecting learning.  American Psychologist, 41, 1040 - 1048.

Higgins, E. T., (1997). Beyond pleasure and pain, American Psychologist, 52, 1280 - 1300

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.

Sue- Chan., & Latham, G.P. (2004) The relative effectiveness of external, peer, and self-coaches, Applied Psychology : An International Review, 53, 260 - 278

Sue-Chan, C., Wood, R.E., & Latham, G.P. (2012) Effect of a coach's regulatory focus and an individual's implicit person theory on individual performance, Journal Management, 38, 809-935

Sutton, R.M. Hornsey, M.J., and Douglas (2012) Feedback : The communication of praise, criticism and advice, Oxford, Peter Lang.


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