It’s no secret that feedback is a key part of e-learning courses. The way we give feedback can define if a course will be effective or not. Feedback is a tool that enhances the learning process and brings real value and experience into the training. There are many ways to deliver feedback within a course, but there are two clear different approaches: telling feedback or showing feedback. Choosing the best approach for your course is crucial when it comes to effectiveness and creating the best learning experience.

Cathy Moore has introduced us this concept when she visited us a few years back, and it have proved to be extremely useful and effective. Thanks Cathy!

Let’s explore this example to understand the difference between the two: It’s late. You are still at the office. Suddenly, you hear a loud noise coming from the street. There’s been an accident. You can see that a man is hurt. What do you do?

Let’s say you choose the third one. A telling feedback would say: “Correct! Well done! This is the best choice.”

This kind of feedback tells the learner the correct answer and then moves on to the next question. You chose the correct option, but do you know why that was correct? Can you imagine what would happen if you administer first aid? Or if you watch through the window?

Learners can identify what is correct, but can they explain why? The telling feedback fails to provide a broader sense of the consequences of our decisions. And knowing the consequences, or at least considering different possible scenarios, will allow us to improve and adjust our actions accordingly.

Let’s try again and now go with option A.

This time, a narration explains what happens and shows it with a video, including sound effects and music:

“The man is lying on the ground. Another car gets there before the ambulance, and when I realize my mistake, it is already too late. The driver is unable to see the man and ends up running him over.”

The learner can actually see the consequences of choosing option A, realizing it was a mistake and understanding why it wasn’t the correct option.

This kind of feedback shows the consequences of making that choice. Showing feedback provides valuable information in a clearer way, helping learners to make better decisions and consider the different scenarios that may result from their actions.

Complex training pieces require more complex ways of giving feedback. For example, in our scenarios-based e-learning courses, feedback is built in a way that the consequences of learners’ decisions are highlighted. Telling the learner what they did wrong is important so they can learn from their mistakes. However, showing rather than telling is actually a better and more real way to get concepts across. Showing feedback proves much more useful for more complex learning pieces because, instead of telling learners what they should have done, its purpose is to show learners the consequences of their decisions or actions for them to realize what was the best choice. Showing feedback allows people to better learn from the mistakes they make, and retain the information that will help them improve performance.

Effective feedback can boost learners’ confidence and their motivation to continue with the training. When we have a clear sense of the impact of the decisions we make, we start to acknowledge what we need to improve and the things we should pay more attention to. Each learner is different and feedback must provide room for improvement to everyone, motivating people to set higher goals for themselves and make real progress.

What will you do for your next training program? Deliver telling feedback or showing feedback?

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