Oral Interactions in Secondary Science Classrooms: a Grounded Approach to Identifying Oral Feedback Types and Practices

Andrea L Campbell-Mapplebeck, Lynda Dunlop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Feedback is an important practice in promoting learning. This study examines teachers’ oral feedback practices, with an analysis grounded in students’ perceptions of what helps them learn. Based on 38 hours of lesson observations, interviews with 10 teachers and 84 students, we identify how teachers conceptualise and practice oral feedback. Based on student interviews, three main types of oral interaction were found to constitute feedback: discrepancy, success criteria comments and open questions. Current practices appear to address the feedback dimensions of ‘How am I going?’ and ‘Where to next?’, but seem to be lacking with respect to addressing the question related to ‘Where am I going?’ Feedback is infrequently used by science teachers compared with other types of oral interaction and the feedback types most frequently reported by students to help learning were used least often. Teachers used oral feedback types differently in whole class and small group situations. We use findings to elaborate an ideal-typical model of feedback practices, with divergent practices involving more frequent use of oral feedback, focusing on learning rather than task. The study concludes with implications for practice in teaching and teacher education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)957-982
Number of pages26
JournalResearch In Science Education
Early online date8 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2019.


  • Feedback
  • Oral interactions
  • Science
  • Teachers

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