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Rapid Feedback Improves Performance

Educators, managers and anyone who mentors, teaches or supervises would like for our ‘pupils’ to shine.

In the school environment, there are a number of factors that influence how well we do including the amount of time we study and our interest in a subject.

New findings suggest how quickly we expect to receive our grades may also influence how we perform — a message that may be extrapolated to real life to demonstrate the benefit of timely feedback.

In the current study, psychological scientists Keri L. Kettle and Gerald Häubl of the University of Alberta in Canada wanted to investigate how the timing of expected feedback impacts individuals’ performance.

For this experiment, they recruited students enrolled in a class that required each student to give a 4-minute oral presentation.

The presentations were rated by classmates on a scale from 0 (poor) to 10 (excellent) and the average of these ratings formed the presenter’s grade for that part of the course.

Students received an email 1 day, 8 days, or 15 days before their presentation and were invited to participate in this research study.

Students agreeing to volunteer in the study were informed when they would receive feedback on their presentation and were asked to predict their grades.

Participating students were randomly assigned to a specific amount of anticipated feedback delay, which ranged from 0 (same day) to 17 days.

The results reveal a very interesting relationship between how soon the students expected to receive their grades and their performance: Students who were told they would receive feedback quickly on their performance earned higher grades than students who expected feedback at a later time.

Furthermore, when students expected to receive their grades quickly, they predicted that their performance would be worse than students who were to receive feedback later.

This pattern suggests that anticipating rapid feedback may improve performance because the threat of disappointment is more prominent.

As the authors note, “People do best precisely when their predictions about their own performance are least optimistic.”

Although this experiment took place in a classroom, the authors conclude that these findings “have important practical implications for all individuals who are responsible for mentoring and for evaluating the performance of others.”

The study is found in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Rapid Feedback Improves Performance

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Rapid Feedback Improves Performance. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 31 Mar 2010)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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