Reconsidering Feedback in Instructional Supervision: How should Feedback be Managed in Schools?

Kalman, Mahmut
Akşab, Şahabettin
Introduction Turkish school principals are expected to supervise courses in K-12 schools with a recent regulation issued in 2014. In the previous system, the supervisory practices were carried out by educational supervisors. Educational supervisors had limited interaction with teachers and were not mostly acquainted with them except for official supervisions which were held once or twice a year. The new implementation has given the responsibilities regarding course supervisions to school principals. This study aims at unearthing how school principals manage the feedback process after course supervisions. Building upon Rigby et al.’s (2017) call for further research on how feedback is conceptualized and enacted in schools, this study specifically examines how school principals channel their views, concerns, and suggestions to teachers about teaching and learning processes and instruction, rather than how they supervise courses. Feedback as an integral part of supervision can be defined as information provided by an agent with regard to one’s performance or understanding (Hattie and Timperley, 2007:81). Feedback-giving provides some opportunities for teachers to see their strengths and weaknesses and accordingly improve instruction (Hilberg, Waxman, and Tharp, 2004) and is essential for teachers’ professional development (Tang and Chow, 2007). According to Rigby et al. (2017), in order for feedback from school administrators to be effective, their learning regarding feedback-giving must be supported through significant resources. This is a significant issue because research reports that school principals are not engaged in the supervision of courses strongly and do not carry out supervision in line with professional standards (Bellibaş, Bulut, Hallinger and Wang, 2016; Kalman and Arslan, 2016). Consistently, research indicates that educational supervision is not effectively handled in schools (Grissom, Loeb, and Master 2013; Gümüş and Akçaoğlu 2013; Mandell 2006; Ponticell and Zepeda 2004). With this in mind, this research sought answers to two research questions guiding the study: “How is feedback conceptualized by teachers?” and “How is feedback enacted in schools as perceived by teachers”. Purpose of the Study This study attempts to build up a dialectical picture of feedback as a process and its management in schools by delving into three main aspects regarding feedback: what feedback is, how feedback is given, and why it is significant to give feedback. Method Phenomenology was used as the research design in the study. A hermeneutic approach was adopted while framing the research design (Bawa and Watson, 2017). Phenomenology focuses on lived experiences of human beings, more clearly, the internal subjective structures of experiencing itself (Ajjawi and Higgs, 2007; Percy, Kostere, and Kostere, 2015). Furthermore, it provides “ways of considering the phenomena of human experience to the means of expressing them” (Sloan and Bowe, 2014:1302). Using hermeneutic phenomenology enables to delve into the experiences of individuals in accordance with researcher’s personal and theoretical knowledge (Ajjawi and Higgs, 2007). Data were gathered through both one-on-one and paired-depth interviews held with 12 teachers. Interviews were held with the participants because interviewing provides “in-depth information pertaining to participants’ experiences and viewpoints of a particular topic” (Turner, 2010:754). A semi-structured interview form including six open-ended questions was used to collect the data. Prior to conducting interviews with the participants, the researchers conducted a pilot study in which they posed the questions in the same manner as the ones used in the main study in order to identify the researcher bias, and test whether the questions were thoroughly understood by the interviewees and pre-planned procedures were pursued (Chenail, 2011) to the letter. Two teachers (one male, one female) participated in the pilot study. The questions were posed to the 2 teachers, and their views about the research topic were taken. After the interviews, some arrangements were made in the modality of the questions, and two questions were re-written as they were not found to be clear by the teachers participating in the pilot study. The interview protocol covered the following open-ended questions:  How do you define feedback?  What activities/actions can be considered to be a part of feedback-giving?  To what degree does feedback affect instruction? Why?  How do you evaluate your school principal’s current feedback-giving approach?  What do you think the benefits of feedback-giving are?  What steps should school principals follow in the feedback-giving process? The data were analyzed using the six steps informed by Ajjawi and Higgs (2007). These steps are immersion (organizing the texts), understanding (identifying first order constructs), abstraction (identifying second order constructs and grouping to create themes and sub-themes), synthesis and theme development, illuminating and illustrating the phenomena, and integration (testing and refining the themes). The classical content analysis technique was used in the qualitative analysis of the data. Findings The findings obtained from the participants revealed that school principals were not strongly engaged in giving feedback to teachers after course supervisions. Some of the teachers asserted that their principals mostly dealt with the physical characteristics of the classrooms and were more interested in the documents that teachers had to fill out on a daily basis. Although they consistently defined feedback as the principal’s positive or negative thoughts or criticisms about teacher behavior, teachers opined that they did not give much feedback regarding their behavior in the classroom. Based on their lived experiences, some teachers stated their discontentment with their principals’ feedback-giving approach, which mostly encompassed document-based formalities. The principals were reported not to have dealt with the issues regarding the instruction and instructional activities in the classroom. Some implications are drawn for the effective management of feedback at schools based on the research findings.


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Citation Formats
M. Kalman and Ş. Akşab, “Reconsidering Feedback in Instructional Supervision: How should Feedback be Managed in Schools?,” Ankara, Türkiye, 2017, p. 721, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: