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Frequent Feedback




Frequent 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 (Seely, 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).  

Checklist of Observable Behaviors

___ 1. Practice (Ewell, 1997, p.9): Students exercise with the 
           purpose of enhancing knowledge and skills.

___ 2. Teacher feedback (Ewell, 1997, p.9): The instructor 
           gives students verbal or written input.

___ 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 performance.

___ 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).  Available:


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].  Available:  

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