The effects of teacher's written comments on pupil performance and attitudes

Barnes, Derek Charles (1986). The effects of teacher's written comments on pupil performance and attitudes. MPhil thesis The Open University.



The development of reinforcement theory and attitudes are examined,with particular reference to the influence feedback and knowledge of results (in the form of grades and comments) have on achievement and attitude change in science. Relevant previous research is discussed critically.

Hypotheses are formed regarding the effect of Teacher Written Comments on science attitudes and achievement.

Thirteen year old pupils were asked to grade comments either 'A', 'B', 'C', 'D' or 'E' depending on which grade they thought should go with the comments.

159 thirteen year old boys and girls were divided randomly into four treatment groups:- 1) Grades only, 2) Grades and matching comment, 3) Grade and above average comment, and 4) Control - existing marking and grading procedure.

The Science Attitude Questionnaire (Skumik & Jeffs 1971) and a Science Achievement Test was administered before and after a topic (The Earth) was taught in science lessons. The pupil's work was marked, commented upon according to the four treatments above, and returned.

No treatment effects on science achievement were found for boys or girls. Treatment 3 was found to have produced significantly greater gain than the other treatments in the Science Interest, Social Implications of Science, Science Teacher and School factors of the Science Attitude Questionnaire. Boys were found to have a significantly more favourable interest in science and it's social implications than girls. Girls had a significantly more favourable attitude to school than boys.

Attenuation had reduced the sample to 147 (74 boys and 73 girls). Two years later another application of treatments was given in another middle school using 31 boys and 39 girls. A significant treatment effect was found for the achievement gain for girls (F= 4.71432, p:> 0.1%). Follow up t tests showed girls in Treatment 3 to have made significantly greater gains than Treatments 1 ,2 or 4.

Again, some significant differences were found in favour of Treatment 3 in various attitude factor scores. The findings, are discussed comparing them with results from other researchers in this field.

The original findings of Page (1958) are not fully supported.

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