What is Medal and Mission?
To improve your assessing and teaching you can use the medal and mission feedback method. There is a downside to just grading a learner’s work. It’s common to think that having a grade motivates and gives learners something to aim for, as well as creating competition. However, that’s not always the case. As some educational research states that grading has a negative effect on at least half of your learners. Here are a few examples of what we mean by grading. Marks out of ten or one hundred, letter grades, number grades or merits and distinctions. If you want to improve your assessing then we have the answers for you in this handy blog!
There are sections that learners fall into, the top, middle and bottom. The most at-risk students are in the top and bottom sections. If students are at the bottom section and they get a string of bad grades, their interest and motivation are squashed. They are more than likely going to work less hard and produce poorer work and then the cycle continues. Alternatively, students in the top section get consistent grades and they become complacent and have less motivation to improve. As they won’t bother to read your comments as they don’t see a need to improve. They may even reduce their effort and say ‘that grade is enough’.
However, this isn’t the same for all students, as they’re all individuals and some may take being at the top and the bottom as ways that they can improve and be better. So get to know your learners!
There have been established subtle responses to grading. It tends to make students nervous and vulnerable so they tend to play it safe and don’t take risks. When they should be taking risks and working outside their comfort zone is how they learn best. Grading can sometimes make students take quick fixes, like copying or learning without understanding the topic properly. It makes mistakes seem shameful, rather than being opportunities for learning further. It also teaches some learners that they can’t do it.
Medal and Mission feedback
You can use medal and mission feedback instead of grading! This means in order to learn at the maximum rate, students need to know what they have done well (a medal) and what they need to improve (a mission). To strengthen and encourage learners to self-regulate their own performance. Making sure they have clear goals. Medal and Mission is the best type of feedback because it’s frequent, task and learner-centred, specific and forward to form a target and a goal.
The medal is the information about what learners have done well and what is good about it. It’s the assessor’s and teacher’s responsibility to inform learners what is correct with their work. This is because learners are not able to judge their work with certainty. Learners deserve to know the strengths of their work because it can encourage them to put more effort into their learning. A medal does not only describe the positive aspects of the work but also the learner’s planning and effort.
Due to the fact that they are considered measurements, marks, grades, and other comparative comments cannot be used as medals. There are 4 main characteristics of a medal. Frequent, task-centred, learner referenced and specific.
Throughout the session, medals should be given frequently. Assessors and teachers should regularly recognise learners’ efforts and achievements frequently rather than reserving them for a mark or grade. Medal and mission is frequent feedback that impacts the learner’s achievement. Teaching and learning must be integrated frequently with feedback from teachers and assessors.
Teacher feedback can only be useful when it connects with the learner’s current activity. Timing is critical when providing feedback. It is preferred by students when it is delivered on time and in the most effective manner.
Assessors and teachers need to give a medal that focuses on the task, rather than the learner’s ability. An instructor may say ‘all the paragraphs are organised’ rather than ‘you’re a good writer’. The focus of good feedback is on the learner’s current level of achievement in the task. Learners want to know what works and what doesn’t when completing their tasks. There are more benefits to task-involving assessment rather than ego-involving assessment. In order to give compliments, you should consider the effort, completion of the task, achievement, and skills displayed.
In ego-centred praise, learners are told that their performance is dependent on personal attributes rather than their ability to work. Feedback which focuses on tasks actually benefits low achievers because it encourages them that improvements are possible if they work towards the goal and have more effort.
Learners should receive medals for what they consider to be a reasonable achievement. It is not appropriate to award medals based on what is best for the average learner in the class. Assessors should give feedback by specifically referring to one particular learner’s achievement. They need to consider a learner’s developmental background when giving feedback.
It is important to use simple vocabulary and sentence structures when providing feedback to learners. It’s important to choose the words carefully to show respect towards the learner as well as get them to fully understand what the feedback exactly means. This will increase learners’ self-esteem and encourage them to take responsibility for their learning.
When providing both praise and constructive criticism in feedback, assessors need to use clear and specific comments. As learners want longer and more detailed feedback. This is because detailed feedback promotes a learner’s reflection and cognitive engagement. Feedback should be specific, not vague, and as clear as possible as to what is being praised. For example, instead of just saying well done, you should elaborate on what they have done well in that piece of work.
Specific feedback is useful as learners often don’t know the reasons for the praise in their work. Teachers and assessors need to let learners know the reasons for the praise to indicate the value of their accomplishment. Learners will also feel less intimidated when they are aware of the reasons behind the praise given to them.
Be careful comparative comments like ‘excellent work’ or ‘rather weak’ have the same negative effect as grades. As learners need to know how to improve, not how they compare. You need to give students clear goals, assessment criteria, and success criteria as well as what good work looks like. Examples of good work can be peer explained, discussed in class or they can study the work and answer questions about it. Students also need to act upon the feedback as well.
A mission refers to information about what learners need to improve and how to improve it. As well as telling learners what doesn’t work in their task. They also need to be told how to improve, and the steps in which they need to take. This kind of feedback is forward-looking and positive which is easier on the learner who will regard it more like advice rather than criticism. Providing a mission is to reduce the gaps between their current understanding and learning goals. A mission has 2 main characteristics, these are forward-looking and a form of a target.
Forward-looking and Positive
A mission is a forward-looking feedback that informs learners on what needs to improve as well as how they can improve. Apart from letting learners know what is wrong with the work, they also need to suggest ways in which they can do better. Helpful and effective feedback shows ways in which they can improve. This is beneficial for low achievers as they are able to challenge their learning obstacles using feedback. It also helps learners understand the content of the subject a lot more. As learners value feedback which is associated with positive feelings and it boosts their motivation and self-esteem. Feedback must be focused, clear, applicable and encouraging.
A form of a target
Assessors and Teachers are encouraged to provide feedback in a form of a target that they can monitor. This focused and precise feedback helps learners to adjust their way of thinking and on the specific areas that need improvement.
Directive feedback helps boost students as you, yourself get to share your skills and knowledge. Learners value directive feedback as it provides guidance for improvements. Offer focused guidance without offering solutions.
Both medal and mission feedback is important to know about and use. As it helps learners identify their strengths in their work. It also guides them to take necessary instructional steps to achieve the improvements. This type of feedback should be specific enough to promote self-revision to the learners. Assessors and teachers should incorporate medal and mission feedback into their lessons to help accelerate student learning. As well as to be able to consider the characteristics of good feedback while providing your own to your learners. If you have any questions about medal and mission feedback, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 01205 805 155 and we would be happy to help.
Steve is a Chartered Manager and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.
He provides Educational Consultancy to the 19+ sector as well as being an Assessor, IQA, EPA and Digital Marketing Professional. When not doing any of these he finds time, every now and then, to write blogs and articles.