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The Power Of Feedback In eLearning

“Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement, but this impact can be either positive or negative”. All you ever wanted to ask about feedback but never did

Source | | Zsolt Olah

What Is The True Power Of Feedback In eLearning?

 “Feedback is one of the most powerful influences on learning and achievement, but this impact can be either positive or negative.” [1]

A large meta-study (500 meta-analyses, involving 450,000 effect sizes from 180,000 studies, representing approximately 20 to 30 million students) found that the impact of feedback on learning is in the top 5-10 factors, but its power depends on the type of feedback. The feedback that enables learners to improve is the most effective, while purely extrinsic motivators (awards, praises, trophies) may have a negative effect!

Giving and receiving feedback is a much wider and more complex topic. This article focuses on the power of feedback as it relates to eLearning and ways you can make it most impactful.

What Is Feedback?

While the focus of the study mentioned above was classroom feedback, the definition, or meaning, of feedback is universal:

“In this review, feedback is conceptualized as information provided by an agent (e.g., teacher, peer, book, parent, self, experience) regarding aspects of one’s performance or understanding.” [1]

What Is The Goal Of Feedback?

How would you define the goal of feedback? Is it praise? Encouragement? Motivation? Error correction?

When we hear the word, feedback, we often think about two types: positive and negative. Or, if you’re in the corporate world: pluses and deltas. We also like to use phrases such as constructive, to replace negativity in the tone. In eLearning, feedback often comes from the “system”, rather than a real person. Designers may use avatars to make it feel more human but overall, it is a message you receive on the screen without the ability to ask for clarification. Therefore, we must be very clear of what we’re trying to achieve with this message.

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