feedback provides opportunities for students to practice what they have previously learned.
Research tells us that the “brain’s flexibility allows the neural networks that were
constructed to address such problems to be quickly reworked to deal
with more pressing matters” (Kotulak, as cited in Ewell, 1997, p. 9).
Because the brain wants to deal with the most pressing matters, it is necessary to practice
those things that we wish to retain and to receive feedback that includes “explicit cues about how
to do better, such as that provided deliberately (or unconsciously)” by a teacher or peer
Brown, & Duguid, as cited in Ewell, 1997, p. 9). This influences learning by virtue of the
frequency (i.e., number of interactions with a particular environmental stimulus such as a person or
a task) and by the quality of the feedback the learner receives. Quality feedback would reveal “specific,
readily-correctable, mistakes or discrepancies in current practices, or in the 'mental models' that
lie behind them” (Ewell, 1997, p. 9). Without
frequent feedback and opportunities for practice, particularly in areas like mathematics and foreign
language, “even well-learned abilities go away (though recovery is not as difficult as initial
acquisition)” (Ewell, 1997, p. 9).
of Observable Behaviors
1. Practice (Ewell, 1997, p.9): Students exercise with the
purpose of enhancing knowledge and
___ 2. Teacher feedback (Ewell, 1997, p.9): The instructor
gives students verbal or written
___ 3. Peer feedback (Ewell, 1997, p.9): Peers provide verbal
or written input.
___ 4. Cues about how to improve (Ewell, 1997, p.9): The
learner gets information
back that includes suggestions
on how to do better.
___ 5. Corrective feedback (Ewell, 1997, p.9): This input is
meant to help improve
___ 6. Supportive feedback (Ewell, 1997, p.9): A mentor or
peer provides encouragement.
Ewell, P. T. (1997).
Organizing for learning: A point of entry. Draft
prepared for discussion at the 1997 AAHE Summer Academy at Snowbird.
National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS).
A kindergarten teacher asks her students to each draw a picture of the vehicle of their
choice. The drawings will later be incorporated into a
PowerPoint slide show that will be combined with the students’ voices to form a computerized class
book. As the students work, the teacher provides them
with frequent feedback. She circulates around the
classroom to make sure that each student is addressed. The
feedback she provides is unique and very specific to each individual student’s work.
The comments are meant to help the students make their drawings more clear to an audience, as
well as to encourage the students by letting them know that they are doing a wonderful job.
It is evident that the teacher is sincere in what she says to each student and very
interested in what they are drawing.
Robinson, J. (2000).
Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see? [Video].
INTIME: Integrating New
Technology Into the Methods of Education [On-line].