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J Appl Psychol. 2004 Apr;89(2):248-62.

Feedback specificity, exploration, and learning.

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  • 1Department of Management, School of Business, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-1041, USA.


Greater feedback specificity is generally considered to be beneficial for performance and learning, but the evidence for this generalization is limited. The authors argue that increasing the specificity of feedback is beneficial for initial performance but discourages exploration and undermines the learning needed for later, more independent performance. The results of their transfer experiment demonstrate that increasing the specificity of feedback positively affected practice performance, but its benefits did not endure over time or modification of the task. In addition, feedback specificity negatively affected levels of exploration during practice and interacted with exploration strategies to affect learning. The results suggest that those who received feedback of varying specificity may have learned through different but equally beneficial mechanisms.

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