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5 Tips for Delivering Meaningful Feedback to Your Learners

Posted by Lynne Koltookian on 10/22/12 4:00 AM
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Practice makes perfect, right? How many times have you heard that cliché associated with self-improvement? I heard it often from my parents, teachers, and sports coaches while growing up. Well, what would you say if I said this famous cliché is incomplete and inaccurate?


We instructors might be tempted to use this cliché, too, when teaching employees, but I think we need to add two key words to make the phrase more complete and accurate: Practice, with feedback, makes perfect! Someone can practice something all they want but unless they get timely and constructive feedback, they will not reach their full potential.


Oftentimes we focus so much on our presentation skills and the design of our courses that we sometimes forget about doing the little things that help us connect with our learners in meaningful ways; providing effective feedback is one of those often overlooked little things.


With that in mind, I’d like to suggest the following five tips to help you deliver meaningful learner feedback:

1.  Ask learners if they would like some feedback. This shows them respect.

 2.  Always let them know what they are doing well (so they keep doing it), and deliver this feedback with a smile and enthusiasm!

 3.  Deliver the positive feedback first, followed by suggestions for improvement. Try substituting the word “but” in between positive and negative feedback with the word “and.” For example, “Jim, your essay was well written and I have some ideas on how to improve it. Would you like to hear them?”

 4.  Deliver your suggestions for improvement with a confident but compassionate tone of voice. When people are learning something new and practicing skills for the first time, they are nervous and more sensitive than normal so keep this in mind.

 5.  Give them feedback only on things they can control and make the comments very specific so it is clear to them what they need to do to improve instead of just saying, “You’re great!”


 So the next time you teach a course, be sure to tell your employees that you are going to give them a lot of practice, with feedback, so they can become as perfect as they can be!


What other tips do you have about giving feedback? 


Lynne has been a course leader with Langevin since 2007. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Penn State University and a Master’s degree in Education from Boston University. After working many years in human resources and sales, Lynne transitioned into training, her true passion, where she’s been facilitating since 1994. Her training philosophy is simple—learning should be fun! The essence of a good instructor is someone who can make complex things easy to understand and fun to learn. In her free time, you’ll find Lynne cycling, hiking, downhill skiing, and scuba diving.

Topics: instructional techniques, presentation skills

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Our very own world-class course leaders share their experiences, tips, best practices, and expertise on virtual training, instructional design, needs analysis, e-learning, delivery, evaluation, presentation skills, facilitation, and much more!

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