Feedback as motivation


One of the really interesting aspects of the PIDP program is that you are,  at the very same time,  both the student and the instructor.  It is great fodder for introspection as you embark on your journey as an adult learner.

Since I hate hypocrisy, one of the areas I’ve challenged myself in is to be more welcoming of feedback.

Feedback isn’t neutral and usually evokes a positive or negative response.    It is simplistic to view all positive feedback as motivating and negative feedback as demotivating.  Positive affirmations offered by others can feed the expectancy side of the motivational equation.


So what’s the best way to ensure that feedback, positive or negative, results in increased motivation?

Resources abound and what constitute effective feedback.  I’d suggest focussing on three key aspects  that I think result in increased motivation irrespective of the nature of the feedback; positive or negative:

Goal referenced: Beyond learning outcomes, evaluation  and rubrics  it is worthwhile to remind students of the gaol and criteria for which they can self asses their progress.  Clarity around a specific goal results in increased motivation if its personal.  Its worthwhile to experience students personal motivations.

Actionable:  Effective feedback is concrete and specific.  Informative feedback is valuable but it is much more motivational if it is actionable.  Like the fitbit that  reminds us of how many steps we’ve taken.The informative feedback is neutral but becomes motivational when its related to a goal and even more so when we can relate it to actionable behaviours: taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Timely:  the timeliness of feedback has a direct impact on motivation.  Timeliness doesn’t always mean immediacy but t should be structured in order to affect behaviour.   It should provide the opportunity for corrective actions that lead to success and progress toward the goal.

Recently as I sat down to finish off a reflective writing assignment (that reminds me… I should someday write that blog post on procrastination).  I noticed that the assignment that the assignment could be handed in late.   At first I thought “phew!!” then I read on;  “Late submissions will only be given a score”…no feedback!  I then realized that I not only now welcome feedback …I crave it.




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