It’s not a shocking revelation: Making mistakes is informative and getting feedback is a key element of how people learn and improve their skills. Good training has feedback in all the right places and uses language that will help the learner shape their understanding of the concept. If there's not enough feedback, the learner can get frustrated or confused. If the feedback is too vague, learners can draw incorrect conclusions about why they were wrong. If it's too long and boring, blegh, no one likes to be lectured to death. Here are some components for constructing little nuggets of meaningful feedback in your training.
Acknowledge Their Thinking
For me personally, when I am straight up wrong about something, I like having my logic noted and at least mildly respected. Even just for posterity. Feedback is a critical learning moment. Consider relegating a phrase or so to addressing why the incorrect response may have seemed correct or appears to hold merit. You can begin to change the learner’s thinking by using a bit of collegial honey instead of all business vinegar.
Challenge Their Thinking
Time for the business vinegar! Seize the moment by bringing up why the answer is wrong in a relatable, practical manner. Cut to the chase - don’t waste space couching the reasoning in too many caveats or exceptions. Make a strong point that speaks to the key takeaway of the activity or question. Use plain language and edit out unnecessary explanations or backstory that doesn’t support the correct answer.
Inform Their Thinking
After you've made a case for why the wrong answer is wrong and why the right answer is right, you often have a chance to take it a step further. Pique their intellectual curiosity by relating the correct answer to a broader theme in the training. Give them a boost and offer a useful tip to prepare the learner for the next screen or topic. Even ask a rhetorical question to keep their minds in that scholarly questioning mode.
Not all e-learning interactions need a complete set of nutrient-rich feedback exploding at every click. Sometimes explicit feedback can interrupt the learner’s concentration or just kind of mess up the aesthetic or flow. Maybe the interaction itself is more complex, and the act of completing it inherently offers enough valid instruction. In these cases, you can still consider using visual feedback, like colors and icons, to signal the learner’s progress. Whichever mechanism you use, give it meaning and calibrate it to hit the learner at the right time.