Memorable feed back: look forward? Or back?

Written by
Changeboard Team

25 Sep 2019

25 Sep 2019 • by Changeboard Team

Directive feedback – a response with a future orientation – is widely thought to be more effective than traditional forms of feedback. It is assumed that recipients would rather know how they could improve in future, than focus on previous projects or outputs.

Exploring this, in a recent study published in The Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers fed back on short essays written by 61 students. Half were given directive comments, while the other 50% were provided with evaluative (past-orientated) feedback. All students then took a memory test on the comments they received. Here’s what the researchers found:

1) The students were more likely to remember evaluative feedback. Across six experiments, participants were found to be 46% more likely to recall pastorientated feedback.

2) Directive feedback was remembered as evaluative. Students would often relay the forward-looking responses as criticisms of their previous work.

3) Evaluative feedback was more memorable even when it was considered less important. Subjects were as likely to remember past-orientated comments on another person’s work as directive comments on their own