Can Feedback Affect Motivation

Can Feedback Affect Motivation?

Gabriel Strube
Freedom Elementary and Osgood Kindergarten Center
West Fargo Public Schools

Bradford Strand, Ph.D
Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences
North Dakota State University


The feedback teachers and coaches provide to students and athletes influences their achievement in physical education and sport setting. Practitioners can use feedback when teaching the correct movements or skills and feedback allows students and athletes to get information about how they are performing a movement or skill. Feedback can be used to correct mistakes and as a way to affect one’s motivation levels. Feedback used while teaching and coaching are intrinsic and augmented feedback and may be delivered verbally, visually, or through written form, and does not always need to be highly detailed in order to help with student and athlete motivation. The purposes of this paper are to discuss the importance of using feedback with students and athletes to help motivate them into a higher level of performance, and, to show how practitioners may also use feedback from students and athletes to adjust teaching techniques. 


It has long been recognized that the feedback teachers and coaches give to students and athletes influences their achievement in physical education and sport settings (Bortoli,, 2010; Siero & van Oudenhoven, 1995). There are multiple types and levels of feedback that can be given to help with motivation in the performance of students’ and athletes’ sport skills (Schmidt & Wristberg, 2008). Teachers and coaches can use feedback to help with teaching the correct movements or skills, while feedback from the students and athletes can be used to aid with how the content is being delivered. In addition, feedback allows students and athletes to get information about how they are performing a movement or skill (Coker, 2013). 

Feedback is not only information to help correct errors, but also a way to affect one’s motivation levels (Badami, VaezMousavi, Wulf, & Namazizadeh, 2011). Two different types of feedback used while teaching and coaching are intrinsic feedback (response-produced feedback that is available to learners from their sensory system both during and as a consequence of the performance) and augmented feedback (information received from an external source that supplements the learner’s own sensory information, aka, intrinsic feedback).

These two types of feedback, when used together, help students and athletes thrive and improve their performance (Smither, London, & Reilly, 2005). Feedback may be given verbally, visually, or through written form, and does not always need to be highly detailed in order to help with student and athlete motivation (Tan, 1996). Providing a simple short positive comment on a student’s or athlete’s performance is sometimes all that is necessary for that individual to stay motivated (Magill, 2001).

Video feedback has also been used to help show students and athletes how to identify error detection and error correction (Coker, 2013). Learners should be encouraged to identify their own errors and how to correct those errors independently (Coker, 2013). In order to assess athletes’ or students’ motivation levels, a teacher or coach needs to be able to identify how they feel about the skill or movement as well as how their body is responding physiologically (Hunter, 2006). As a coach or teacher, one can use this type of feedback from athletes or students in order to adjust teaching styles that help target students’ motivation levels.

The purposes of this article are to discuss the importance of using feedback with students and athletes to help motivate them into a higher level of performance, and, to show how practitioners may also use feedback from students and athletes to adjust teaching techniques.  By choosing the right type of feedback for a given situation, a teacher or coach can effectively redirect a students’ performance (Coker, 2013).

Use of Feedback

If students and athletes are given feedback on their performance, they are likely to express more value in their performance as well as strive to improve on their performance.  Practitioners must understand that during the initial stages of learning, the frequency of feedback is more important (Rink, 2002) and as students and athletes become more proficient at the skill or movement, the need for feedback becomes less frequent (Coker, 2013).

There are multiple forms of feedback that can be used to help intrinsically motivate students and athletes to learn.  Augmented feedback is information received from an external source that supplements a learner’s own sensory information (Coker, 2013). An example of this type of feedback would be showing a video replay to a student of how he or she is performing an underhand roll in bowling. This provides the student with an opportunity to detect his or her own errors as well as seeing what he or she is doing correct.

Intrinsic feedback is response-produced information that is available to learners through their sensory systems both during and as a consequence of performance (Coker, 2013). Intrinsic feedback comes internally from sources such as vision, hearing, proprioception, and touch. The timing of the feedback comes into play as well. Terminal feedback is presented to the learner after the movement is completed (Coker, 2013).  An example of terminal feedback is saying, “After observing you I noticed that during your throw you were not standing with you shoulders pointed at your target. Remember to turn your shoulders so that they are pointed at your target.”

Concurrent feedback is provided to the learner during the execution of a skill (Coker, 2013). An example of concurrent feedback is telling a student or athlete to remember to follow through on an overhand throw. Practitioners should use all these types of feedbacks when teaching and coaching as a helpful resource to keep students and athletes motivated. 

Teaching and Coaching with Feedback

Feedback is a term used to describe the information learners receive about their performance of a movement or skill (Coker, 2009). For example, I hit a golf ball with the goal of keeping it in in the fairway, and I see where it lands—in the fairway or rough. Or, a coach watches an athlete punt a football and says, “Next time remember to fully extend your kicking leg as you follow through.” And, a teacher teach a lesson with the goal of engaging students, and sees that some students have their eyes on the teacher while others are falling asleep (Wiggins, 2012). All three examples provide different types of feedback but in all three cases an individual received information that would help him or her improve the action and come closer to achieving the stated goal.

Feedback is an important key among 21st century teaching and the use of praise, encouragement, and technical instruction helps increase perceptions of competence, which increases individuals’ intrinsic motivation (Badami, et. al., 2011; Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001). Wiggins (2012) stated that decades of education research support the idea that by teaching less and providing more feedback, we can produce greater learning.

Practitioners are constantly thinking of positive ways to help students learn and stay motivated in their content area.  One way of using feedback is by providing positive feedback to help build a means of self-confidence (McCarty, 1986).  As students and athletes are starting to learn a new skill, the importance of feedback correlates highly with their success rate.  Students and athletes sometimes feel a sense of failure during the learning process if they are not able to understand and perform a skill quickly.  Interest is an important key in one’s involvement and success in learning (Subramaniam, 2010).  An example of how to use students’ interest as a means of feedback would be to have students think of some skills or tasks in which they would like to participate. Their answers will help the practitioner in developing lessons that will excite and motivate students to learn. 

The use of positive feedback in forms of verbal or gestures can help keep students and athletes motivated to learn the skill (Bortoli,, 2010).  Using descriptive feedback comments allows participants to pinpoint what they need to improve and how they can fix the issue.  Descriptive feedback is simply describing the nature of the performance error (Coker, 2013). An example of a descriptive comment might state, “You are not following through towards your target with your throwing hand.”

Teachers and coaches are too carefully assess participant performance before providing the appropriate types of feedback.  If a teacher provides a student with a non-specific type of feedback, the student might infer that the teacher does not care if he or she gets any better and thus lose his or her motivation to improve (Tjeerdsma, 1995).  Students and athletes of high skill level are more likely to be motivated than those of a lower skill level (Tjeerdsma, 1995).  Suggestions of how to keep the lower level participants interested and motivated is by using self-competitive tasks rather than peer-competitive tasks (Tjeerdsma, 1995).  An example might be asking athletes to try to get more successful serves over the net in volleyball than they achieved the last time in practice. Giving a positive feedback comment to individuals will help to gradually improve their performance. 

Using different types of feedback with students and athletes of varying skills will help keep them motivated on the task at hand.  The lower skilled students and athlete will need both types of contingent and non-contingent feedback. Contingent feedback matches a student’s level of performance (Tjeerdsma, 1995). A non-contingent feedback would be telling a student “that is okay” when they are unsuccessful at a task. Doing this may suggest to the students that you do not care if they get any better and will result in lower motivation levels. Practitioners should also be able to balance corrective feedback with evaluative feedback.  Corrective feedback tells a participant what needs to be changed to perform correctly in the future (Tjeerdsma, 1995).  For example, “Try to follow all the way through when you complete your underhand roll.” Evaluative feedback tells the participant how well a previous task was performed (Tjeerdsma, 1995). An evaluative feedback comment will sound like “Great job with bringing your draw-hand to the corner of your mouth each time you draw your bow.” If a student is always given corrective feedback and no evaluative feedback on his or her performance, he or she can easily lose interest and motivation in the task at hand. Another helpful strategy is to use the sandwich approach when teaching.  The sandwich approach allows the practitioner to use reinforcement, error correction, and encouragement all in one statement. For example, “That’s good, your arm was extended that time” (reinforcement). “On your next attempt, try to rotate you wrist as you release the ball remembering to keep you arm extended” (error correction). “Great, you almost have it” (reinforcement). Practitioners who have used the sandwich approach have showed higher levels of intrinsic motivation among their students’ (Coker, 2013). Conversely, if a student or athlete is only given evaluation feedback, he or she might interpret this to mean that the teacher does not care about his or her improvement and may result in the student or athlete losing motivation to improve.  The balance of both types of feedback is important in providing all participants with suggestions on how to fix their issues as well as motivation on when they are able to perform the skill or task correctly (Tjeerdsma, 1995).


One of the most important jobs of physical educators and sport coaches is to create meaningful influences among students and athletes to motivate them to live physically active lives (Siedentop, 2009. The use of feedback is important to practitioners because one can use it to help motivate students’ and athletes’ learning and drive (Magill & Anderson, 2014).  With the content discussed throughout this paper it could be said that the type and frequency of feedback will help with successfully keeping students and athletes motivated. Understanding that motivation and feedback go side by side will help practitioners to become successful with motivating students and athletes who are learning a new skill. Being able to nurture a students’ or athletes’ positive attitude with interactions and feedback will foster greater effort and motivation will continue (Solmon, 2003).

Creating lessons and practice plans with a focus on teaching content in a way that will excite and motivate students and athletes to participate will assist in keeping them motivated (Kilpatrick, Hebert & Jacobsen, 2002).  Practitioners can use feedback from students as well as they plan new and fun activities in which students want to participate.  For example, providing students with choices regarding what activities are going to be played helps with keeping students motivated as they have a voice in the activity selection (Kilpatrick, Hebert & Jacobsen, 2002).  Students will feel a sense of intrinsic feedback when they are allowed to be part of the decision making process.


The use of feedback to help motivate students or athletes is critical for their achievement.  There are many types and forms of feedback, all of which if used correctly, can help students and athletes improve as well as express interest in the content being presented.  Practitioners should strive to create descriptive forms of feedback unique to each learner to insure that the student or athlete will be able to correct his or her errors successfully. Taking students and athlete interest levels into account will also provide the practitioner with feedback about their specific interests.  With this knowledge, practitioners can create activities with the students’ and athletes interests in mind.  This will in turn show the students and athletes that the teacher and/or coach cares about them and their interests, thus they (students and athletes) are more willing to express motivation in class.


List of authors and their bios

Badami, R., VaezMousavi, M., Wulf, G., Namazizadeh, M. (2011). Feedback after good versus poor trials affects intrinsic motivation. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 82,  360-364.

Bortoli, L, Bertolla, M., Messina, G., Chiariotti, R., Robazza, C. (2010). Augmented feedback of experience and less experience volleyball coaches: A preliminary investigation. Social Behavior and personality, 38, 453-460.

Coker, C. A., (2013). Motor learning and control for practitioners with online labs (3rd ed.) Scottsdale, AR: Holcomb Hathaway, Publishers.

Feedback [Def. 1]. (n.d.). Merriam-Webster Online. In Merriam-Webster. Retrieved July 8, 2014 from

Hunter, D., (2006). Motivation and feedback in coaching. Brian Mackenzie's Successful Coaching, 34, 1-3

Kilpatrick, M., Hebert, E., & Jacobsen, D. (2002). Physical activity motivation: A practitioners guide to self-determination theory. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, & Dance, 73(4), 36-41.

Magill, R. A. (2001). Augmented feedback in motor skill acquisition. In R. N. Singer, H. A. Hausenblas, & C. M. Janelle (Eds.), Handbook of sport psychology (2nd ed., pp. 86-114). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Magill, R., & Anderson, D. (2014). Motor learning and control: Concepts and applications. Boston: McGraw Hill.

Marzano, R., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: ASCD

McCarthy, P. A. (1986). Effects of feedback on self-confidence of men and women. Academy of Management Journal, 29, 840-847.

Parson, M., (2001). Enthusiasm and feedback: a winning combination!. PE Central. Retrieved from   

Rink, J. E. (2002). Teaching physical education for learning (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Schmidt, R. A., & Wristberg, C. A. (2008). Motor learning and performance: A situation-based learning approach. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Siedentop, D. (2009). Introduction to physical education, fitness & sport. Boston: McGraw Hill.

Siero, F., & van Oudenhoven, J. P. (11995). The effects of contingent feedback on erceied control and performance. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 10(1), 13-24.

Smither, J. W., London, M., & Reilly, R. R. (2005). Does performance improve following multisource feedback? A theoretical model, meta-analysis, and review of empirical findings. Personal Psychology, 59, 33-66.

Solmon, M. (2003). Student issues in physical education classes: Attitude, cognition, and motivation. In S. J. Silverman & C.     D. Ennis (2nd Ed.), Student learning in physical education: applying research to enhance instruction (pp. 147-163). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Subramaniam, P. R., (2010). Unlocking the power of situational interest in physical education: Interest-based motivation can evoke enjoyment of learning. The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, & Dance, 81(7), 38.

Tan, S. K. S. (1996). Differences between experienced and inexperienced physical education teachers’ augmented feedback and interactive teaching decisions. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 15, 151-170.

Tjeerdsma, B. L., (1995). How to motivate students…without standing on your head!. The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation, & Dance, 66(5), 36-39.

Wiggins, G. (2012). Seven keys to effective feedback. Educational leadership, 70(1), 10-16.


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