TMA: Feedback

There are great opportunities for giving the children meaningful feedback at the end of each Maths Apprenticeship task. I would say that the feedback covers three main areas: the maths content, the way the group communicate their work (in written and spoken forms) and the way in which the group work together.

Maths content
Some of the feedback will be based on the accuracy of the group’s calculations. For example, were they able to work out a 15% discount based on a bulk order? In other cases, the feedback will be more open-ended. For example, in the MI5 task can a group adjust their security code formula to ensure that the product is always a 4-digit number? There is more detail about what to look out for and how to extend each task on the teachers’ USB stick.

Communication of work
However well the mathematics element of the task is carried out, to be successful the children must be able to communicate their ideas effectively. You can look at whether they provided all of the information that the customer required; whether key cost calculations have been included; and how personable they were when meeting the customer (often played by the teacher in role, lots of fun!) to explain their work. Also, the way in which children choose to use technology as a means of communication is key.

Group dynamic
Often, the main determinant in the success of a group is the way in which the children work together. Do the children discuss the strengths and weaknesses of different ideas, with every child involved and nobody dominant? How are the different jobs within a task split up between team members? Are time deadlines met? Which tasks are prioritised? These are all difficult issues to face, and the team manager has to control the overall direction of the task well.

When providing feedback, it is often difficult to separate these three issues. For example, in the sandwich task there may be an error in the food order quantities. However, the underlying issue may be that this part of the task needed prioritising more, and that the person doing the calculations required more support from the team leader.

When the children are given high quality and detailed feedback, the quality of the work that they produce improves enormously from one task to the next. I have so often been blown away by the way in which the children improve from task to task. Their determination to be outstanding apprenticeship candidates has always been clear to see. As a result, the children will develop a great range of skills throughout their mathematics apprenticeship!

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