Training the Workforce, Part 4: Can I Get a Little Feedback?

Skilan Ortiz, Training the Workforce 1 Comment

Skilan Ortiz | February 28, 2013

This is part 4 of an on-going series of blogs on using games for training the workforce.

The first 3 parts of this Training the Workforce series has seen us take a look at transfer of training, the potential of using video game training, and how motivation can help transfer of training.  In part 4 we will discuss feedback; how it can help training in general, and why it helps video game training be so effective in particular.

Feedback is a crucial aspect of any training program.  Providing feedback throughout the training process helps to motivate trainees and fosters perseverance on their part [1].  Simply put, by knowing what works and what doesn’t work, trainees can put their knowledge to use immediately to solve problems and overcome obstacles in training. In turn, this can help make trainees want to learn even more.  In fact, in their 2012 meta-analysis, Dean, Pitler, Hubbell, and Stone found about a 28 percentile point difference in average achievement for learners that received feedback compared to those that didn’t [2].

It is possible for there to be negative effects on learning from feedback [3].  However, there are ways to develop feedback in such a way as to prevent these negative effects from occurring.  Goodwin and Miller state, in their Educational Leadership article, that “good feedback is targeted, specific, and timely” [1]. In essence, this means that feedback should be linked to learning objectives, not vague, and given soon after the correct or wrong behavior. If feedback meets this criteria, it will help trainees feel more motivated and engaged in their learning process which should result in increased learning outcomes and more effective training programs.

It is my personal opinion that there are very few types of training that can come close to matching the potential gains from feedback possible with video games.  Video games by their very nature deliver “targeted, specific, and timely” feedback to the person playing the game.  If you perform the correct action you level up, get a rare item, or maybe you receive positive feedback from an NPC (non-playable character) within the game.  On the other hand, when you perform the wrong action you lose health, get yelled at by an NPC or can even lose a life.  This feedback is directly relevant to the game being played, it is very specific, and it happens within moments. As Goodwin and Miller state; “it’s hard to imagine children being glued to these games if, instead of receiving ongoing, real-time feedback, they got their results weeks later in the mail” [1].

I believe that when these principles of feedback in training and video games merge, such as we see in the Serious Game genre, the future of employee training looks very bright indeed.


1. Goodwin, B. (2012). Good Feedback Is Targeted, Specific, Timely. Educational Leadership, 70(1), 82.

2. Dean, C., Pitler, H., Hubbell, E., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement (2nd ed.). Alexandria, Va. : ASCD,  c2012

3. Shute, V. J. (2008). Focus on Formative Feedback. Review Of Educational Research, (1), 153.

One Response to “Training the Workforce, Part 4: Can I Get a Little Feedback?”

  1. Training the Worforce, Part 5: Feedback Motivation in Action says:

    […] The Office of Personnel Management states that timely feedback is important.  Why?  Because if something needs to change, the sooner a person knows this, the sooner they can implement this change.  But, why else?  Timely positive feedback is also rewarding.  If a person accomplishes or exceeds a goal, and the quicker he/she receives the positive feedback, the more rewarding it is for that person [1].  (See also Skilan’s blog.) […]

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