subject gain the pupils response to show their

subject at different rates and be at different learning
stages, which could become difficult for the teacher to manage.

Although Vygotsky was in favour of spontaneous development,
he also recognised the importance of external input been crucial for child
development, he emphasised cultural experiences and ‘handed down’ knowledge
from previous generations and as an invaluable resource (Dixon-Krauss, 1996, p. 18) as children would not progress very far if
they were left to discover everything by themselves without external guidance. By
giving feedback the teacher can close the ZPD gap, to offer the feedback the
teacher needs to promote three teacher acts, the first, attending to the
learners’ production, the second, an evaluation of the learners’ strengths and
weaknesses against a background or framework reference and thirdly, the
teachers explicit response.

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These acts require the teacher to possess a specific skills
set of intellectual and experiential resources, knowledge and passion, with the
intention and desire to help the learner, including knowledge on how to gain
the pupils response to show their understanding of expected targets and
evaluating their own learning (Sadler 1989).  When feedback research is compiled it appears
quite complex, however practices in the classroom give a different picture,
that feedback often tends to be timetabled into daily or weekly timeslots and
given specific labels such as ‘fix it time’ were pupils are given focused,
unproblematic feedback with clearly prescribed goal orientations (Murtagh,
2014). Sometimes, time is given for pupils to respond to feedback, this allows
a dialogue to be created between the teacher and the pupil, however, this can
often be little more than a forced dialogue directly linked to a specific
target and the teachers’ specific priority (Leganger-Krogstand, 2014). Lefstein
(2010) stated that ‘the institution of schooling constrains the ways in which
dialogue can be conducted within its domain’ (p. 171). Lefstein (2010) highlighted a strain
between the relationship and rules which may hinder meaningful dialogue which
enables learning to take place. In order to facilitate deliverance of effective
feedback the teacher/ pupil relationship needs to be explored and enhanced.

Habermas’ theory of Communicative Action may
offer an insight into how developing dialogue may enhance the teacher/pupil
relationship and facilitate the deliverance of feedback and enrich the learning
process. Habermas’ (1984) developed the Theory of
Communicative Action which is the idea by which the cooperative action of
interaction of individuals is based on mutual argumentation
and deliberation. Suggesting that there is an built in capacity with language
to facilitate systematic reasoning through mutual understanding. Communicative
action commences when two or more individuals commence a deliberative process
of interaction specific towards a certain subject or situation with the
intention of reaching a certain goal or outcome (Habermas 1984?).

Habermas defined communicative actions as –

the interaction of at least two subjects capable of speech
acts and action who establish interpersonal relations (whether by verbal or by
extra-verbal means). The actors seek to reach understanding about the action
situation and their plans for action in order to coordinate actions by way of
agreement. The central concept of interpretation refers in the first instance to negotiating definitions of the
situation which admit of consensus. (Habermas, 1984, p. 86)

These democratic ideas are socially constructed to gain an
understanding of the process of communication however, this does not mean they
cannot be applied to the education system and the relationships that exist
between teachers and pupils and more specifically the process of feedback
between the teacher and the pupil. Firstly, it must be established what the
feedback seeks to achieve, how the intentions and actions of the teacher
propose to influence the pupil and what strategy will be used, this will be the
basis of the communicative action, this is not however, imposed by either party
(1984, p.287). Although teachers are directly responsible for pupil progress
this theory allows consideration that learning is not fully controlled by
teachers and requires significant engagement from the pupil, therefore the
pupil is partly responsible and accountable for their own learning. Feedback
should be focused on specific learning objectives from the curriculum, they
need to be justified and relatable to the pupil and their individual
aspirations and understandings (Hatties, 2009). The feedback should connect the
past, present and future giving the pupil an insight into what might happen
next, thus enabling a review of what went well or what could be improved upon and
an opportunity to create an action plan of ‘next steps’ to create better
progress. Through argumentation ideas can be developed via discourse,
perspectives expanded, validity inspected and tested,  defended or criticised, as much as it is
important in learning it is important in feedback. These concepts may need
careful planning to give the opportunities for such discussions to take place
which is where the theory may have limitations, however, focused feedback as
summarised by Shute (2008) and Black and Wiliam (1998) which have been
criticised for not significantly improving progress could possibly use a
process of communicative action as a way of improving practises. Habermas’
ideas create an environment where the pupil is invited by the teacher to engage
in a discussion, where the pupils could express his/her views, perspectives and
opinions regarding the lesson context and his/her personal aspirations. The
priorities of the teacher would be shared as part of the discussion and the
process would progress with clear advantages such as acknowledging  the pupils views rather than suppressing
them, giving the pupil the tools and knowledge and empowerment to articulate
their views and opinions in a safe environment and it also gives the teacher
the clear in depth knowledge as to exactly where the pupil sits in relation to
understanding and how best to move forward and align with the curriculum
priorities.

A consideration of Habermas’ theory and if communicative
action is to be considered in how feedback is delivered then the teacher/ pupil
relationship becomes the most important component to be scrutinised, highlighting
pupils capacity to engage in meaningful conversation with relatable experiences
and the ability to verbalise and justify their own views. The pupil needs to
have developed skills of cognitive and moral development and reasoned and
rational argument, if not then the teacher may need to teach this skill set
before argumentation can take place (Habermas, 1981). Habermas recognised that
the pupil needed a certain level of moral consciousness in order for the
learning process to take place, this would be responsible in shaping the
learners identity, judgments and skills, extending ideas from Kohlberg’s Theory
of Moral Development, where by the pupil progresses through stages of a
learning process developing moral judgement and becoming more skilled through
argumentation (Kohlberg, 1981).