Outdoor Ed

Using feedback to enhance learning in Outdoor Education

Group mountain

I’ve been reflecting a bit on my teaching recently as 12 year comes close to a close. I’ve had the same ‘group’ of students since year 10 outdoor ed and they are now about to sit their final year 12 outdoor ed exam. Being able to work with them over three years has proved powerful. Every experience and assessment they’ve had, I’ve learnt from too. Their successes, failures, their trials and celebrations have all helped shape the program from year to year. And now as we start to focus on exam preparation, we have three years worth of examples and experiences to recall and apply to content.

Anyway, it got me reflecting on how I’ve given feedback, and, how I can better use feedback to help students prepare for their final exam.


  • Feedback is information provided to students that is used by them to alter the gap between their current performance and the ideal (i.e. information that helps the student learn).
  • Feedback helps students assess their mastery of course material, helps them assess their use of thinking and learning strategies, and helps them connect their efforts and strategies to their academic outcomes
  • Feedback needs to take various forms (i.e. written and verbal) so that the process may become multidirectional
  • Feedback that is positive can enhance student confidence and facilitate student interest and motivation
  • Feedback needs to be specific – the more specific the feedback, the more motivating it is likely to be (Hook and Vass 2000)
  • Effective feedback answers three questions: where am I going (goal)? How am I going? Where to next? (Hattie and Temperley 2007)
  • “Feedback aimed to move students from task to processing and then from processing to regulation is most effective” (Hattie and Temperley 2007)
  • “Teachers need to seek and learn from feedback (such as from students’ responses to tests) as much as do students, and only when assessment provides such learning is it of value to either.” (Hattie and Temperley 2007)


  • ACTIVITY: Student performs technical skill (ie. surfing).
    • Verbal feedback with visual cues provided during lesson (ie. you are placing your hands ‘here’, and the should be ‘here’)
    • Video performance and conduct self and peer assessment. Student is videoed on multiple occasions. Student watches back whilst using simplified ‘skills assessment checklist’ to self assess and peer assess. Discuss findings as a class
    • Mock skills assessment (based on skills rubric) conducted by teacher. Written feedback given to students.
  • ACTIVITY: Student leads a group activity
    • Video performance and conduct self assessment. Student is videoed giving an activity brief, leading an activity or facilitating debrief discussion. Use simplified ‘leadership assessment checklist’ for students to conduct self assessment. Discuss findings as a class.
    • Written notes of group performance. Teacher takes notes of student leadership, participation and performance (ie. who did and said what – no emotion attached). Provide to students with reflective questions, to individually read back and reflect.  (NOTE: found this to be quite powerful means of self reflection and feedback as it removed their own ‘interpretation error’ and instead they read how they/group performed much like it was a chapter in a book.
    • Peer observation. Peer observes student leadership performance from the ‘sidelines’. Peer uses simple checklist to rate leader on ‘key performance’ indicators. individually
    • Participants rate leader. Participants in the group complete a leadership skills rating scale and provide comments on student leadership performance. xc
  • ACTIVITY: Students participate in theory content discussions 
    • Past performance and feedback. Facilitate discussion of past performance and experiences – refer to past assessments and written feedback provided. Compare previous years performance to current situation – focus on changes/difference/growth/learning.
  • ASSESSMENT: Student performs written or practical assessment task
    • Individual written comments focused on ‘task’ provided to each student.
    • Summary of common errors shared with all students (Plus use this feedback to develop teaching program and strategies)
    • Self reflection. Students take time to individually reflect on their assessment – provide guided questions to ensure they reflect on their preparation (processing), result and teacher feedback. Make notes and set goals for improvement on future assessments. (Plus use this feedback of student preparation to develop teaching strategies)

3 thoughts on “Using feedback to enhance learning in Outdoor Education

  1. Pingback: The PE Playbook – August 2015 Edition | drowningintheshallow

  2. Pingback: Using IT to improve feedback in Physical or Outdoor Education | Move Eat Teach

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