Monday, July 14, 2008

Feedback - A Powerful Learning Tool

Feedback as a teaching tool is majorly underestimated. Several courses include feedback as "That's correct!" or "That's incorrect!" How useful is this to the learner? Feedback should include a rationale. The learner should be made aware of why he/she got it right or wrong. Feedbacks plays a key role in:

  • Reinforcing learning
  • Motivating the learner
  • Checking an incorrect association of concepts or misinterpretation
  • Informing the learners about their strengths and focus areas
  • Making the learner think about the rationale
The error-correcting action of feedback is effective when it follows a response that the learner selected. Feedback must be immediate. This kind of feedback registers in the minds of the learners. It is an effective teaching tool. Feedback should be positive and encouraging. Challenging exercises are not created to ensure that the learner gets it wrong. Therefore, the feedback should not sound like aha-I-got-you. It should not be harsh and derogatory. We are not trying to make the learner feel small and inefficient. I remember this incident from my childhood. When in 3rd (Greenfield's School, Delhi), I was asked to come forward and identify where the pancreas is located. My answer was incorrect and as feedback my teacher poked into my tummy and said "Is this where your pancreas is located?" Now, this incident had terrible impact on me as a child. I was petrified of answering in class. No feedback is probably better than offensive feedback.

Feedback should be given for both correct and incorrect answers. If the answer is incorrect, provide the learner with another opportunity to rethink his/her answer. If the learner fails to answer correctly after two attempts, provide the correct answer and the logic for the incorrect options.


Came across an interesting article on The Importance of Feedback in Human Behavior. Check it out.

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