Intrinsic or extrinsic feedback?
When it comes to help our students we always think about the best way to guide them to achieve the better results. As a teachers or instructors our duty is guide them to achieve the better results possible, thus the importance of a good feedback from our side. Or not? Some questions come to my mind, what’s intrinsic feedback? what about extrinsic feedback? can we turn a extrinsic feedback in intrinsic feedback? So, what’s the advantage of intrinsic feedback? Here are some of my thoughts.
Related post: How to set up extrinsic feedback?
What’s intrinsic feedback?
Intrinsic feedback or inherent feedback refers to that thing that encourages us to do something. It refers to the inner voice that trigger us to behave in a specific way and it doesn’t necessary need to have a physical reward.
For example, those people who volunteer to donate their time to help others. Here the reward is not money, instead, the reward is being useful for some other people.
Intrinsic feedback can also be a behaviour or a response due to external conditions. For example, if you ever eat something that provokes a terrible stomachache, it’s more likely that in the nearly future if you find that food again your brain associates that negative experience that happened to you in the past and immediately you feel a “kind of” bad.
But, intrinsic feedback can also be based upon positive experiences. A good example could be those like me who train for a competition or a marathon. It’s common to feel down sometimes and I would even give up. However, the inner motivation to keep us pushing is to beat ourselves, to beat those fears or those barriers that prevent us to achieve our goal. There’s no physical rewards, at least in my case I’ll not be in the podium raising up the cup, but I’ll be definitely a “Finisher”.
Although there’s indeed a reward (arrive at the finish line), it’s something that implies a process, implies effort, implies a reward that depends directly on different variables, most of them on the individual itself.
What about extrinsic feedback?
Extrinsic feedback refers to that response that has been triggered by an external stimulus, for example a physical reward or a sound for example. Otherwise the reaction wouldn’t happen.
We can find good examples of extrinsic feedback when trying to negotiate with kids. Some parents use extrinsic rewards to negotiate a specific behaviour:
“If you pick up all your toys we will go to your favourite restaurant”
“If you wash the dishes everyday I’ll pay you 50$”.
The problem with physical rewards is that when you use it regularly the kid learns that the only reason for doing something is for something in return.
In learning environments when it comes to extrinsic feedback the teacher plays an important role. The instructor evaluates all the time the performance of his students as their results in the different assignments or assessments. Based on the teachers’ feedback, students are able to improve and align their performance to the desirable learning outcomes.
It’s also gaining popularity the idea of involving students in providing extrinsic feedback by letting them be part of the process of the assessment through peer assessments, using rubrics or through the development of projects. In those different contexts students are not only able to assess their performance but the others as well.
Can we turn extrinsic feedback into intrinsic feedback?
The answer is yes, but it’s not that easy. In my opinion there are some variables to take into account.
At first, I would suggest go beyond pass or fail an exam. Sometimes we focus too much on remember things, when there are a lot of studies out there that highlights that there are more effective ways to remember things that just doing a test at the end of a course.
One of those methods is putting in practice the current knowledge acquired. Knowledge will always be there, we have wikipedia, history books, so we can reach them whenever we need them but the content is fixed in your brain more time if you put that information in practice. That’s the reason why Project Based Learning approaches are so effective. Students have the knowledge but, they have to create something that has to be meaningful for them. This approach requieres them to get involved, promotes critical thinking and other competencies that belongs to the higher stages of the Bloom’s Taxonomy.
Another idea is work in groups to aim the same goal. I really believe that letting students work together implies learning good values not just for learning but for life as well. Be a group implies having a unique goal for everybody, implies that each individual have a responsibility against the group so the fail of one individual may affect the others. At the end, is not only for just being able to deliver an assignment but about how to deal with people, how to help others, how to push people to achieve the same purpose.
So, what’s the advantage of intrinsic feedback?
As I’ve already mentioned, students goes beyond just passing a exam or the idea of delivering on time an assignment. Learning it becomes a process that implies different variables. It implies getting them involved in their learning process, the inner motivation is to be able to succeed against the different barriers or throwbacks, it’s challenging. It requires effort. That’s why I believe that always the best bet is a combination of both Extrinsic feedback to foster intrinsic motivation.