Source: European Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 36, No. 2, 164–182, 2013
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study aimed to investigate whether the levels of cognitive load and ambiguity are higher in the control group, who received an ad hoc feedback, than in the experimental group, who received a structured feedback.
The participants were 20 pre-service teachers, who were recruited from a teacher training institute for lower secondary education in southern Netherlands. They were randomly assigned to the control group or the experimental group.
Each pre-service teacher was required to find a volunteering coach, an experienced teacher, who would like to participate in the study. The pre-service teacher together with the coach formed a pair.
The authors defined two dependent variables: cognitive load and ambiguity.
They used three different instruments for each variable: a questionnaire, a semi structured interview with coaches and pre-service teachers and the keywords logs, which are keywords selected by the pre-service teacher and the coach. .
Conclusion and discussion
The findings suggest that the use of structured keywords for delivering immediate performance feedback is more beneficial than the ad hoc mode of delivering performance feedback on the three defined problems of pre-service teachers.
The authors argue that the coach and the pre-service teacher, who participated in the structured mode, always have to select and discuss in advance the keywords that they are going to use. This discussion could diminish the chance of ambiguity.
The ambiguity may increase for the pre-service teacher and the coach in the ad hoc mode.
In the ad hoc mode, where the protocol determined that a coach can only use the keyword that were chosen, there is a chance that the coach will use keyword addressing less easy-to-understand competences, such as the subject content competence.
The authors also argue that the increased amount of cognitive processing required for performing a task while receiving, interpreting and responding to immediate feedback may impose high cognitive load on pre-service teachers. They found that by structuring the messages and only using the selected keywords, the cognitive load can be reduced, resulting in lower reported levels of cognitive load. Furthermore, the participants used smaller messages in the structured mode, resulting in lower levels of cognitive load.