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Movement Experiences for Children
KIN 366
Instructor: Dr. Shannon S.D. Bredin
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Many researchers have attempted to enhance the learning process of students and athletes by determining what affects their learning and what instructors can do to facilitate the learning process (Tzetzis, Votsis, & Kourtessis, 2008; Stein Bloom, & Sabiston, 2012). One tool that has proven to be useful in the facilitation of learning and improving performance is verbal feedback (Puddefoot, Hilliard, & Burl, 1997; Tzetzis et al., 2008). Verbal feedback can be classifed as positive, negative, formative, or summative (Stein et al., 2012; Chan & Lam, 2010).

What is Verbal Feedback?

Verbal feedback is the words and phrases used by a coach, teacher or instructor to guide their students toward success and the mastery of a skill (Tzetzis et al., 2008). Bandura (1997) said that verbal persuasion, also known as verbal feedback, is evaluative feedback highlighting the abilties of learners, allowing them to feel they are capable of performing a skill. Verbal feedback is an effective means of instruction, as it contains vital cues for each skill, as well as information that students may not receive from the observation of others (Tzetzis et al., 2008). The cues and information students receive from their teachers and coaches can help them reach the correct performance of skills, such as motor skills learned in physical education and other physical activity settings.

Types of Verbal Feedback (Definitions)

Positive Feedback

Positive Feedback is encouraging, supportive and gives instruction for improvement (Stein et al., 2012; Tzetzis et al., 2008). Positive feedback enhances the performance of a skill (Puddefoot et al., 1997).

Negative Feedback

Negative Feedback is controlling, unsupportive and points out what students are doing incorrectly without giving suggestions towards improvement (Stein et al., 2012; Tzetzis et al., 2008; Vallerand, & Reid, 1988). Negative feedback suppresses the performance of a skill by making performers feel as though they are incapable of performing it correctly (Puddefoot et al., 1997).

Formative Feedback

Formative Feedback is feedback delivered in between performances, allowing participants to use the information received from coaches immediately to achieve their goals (Zaton & Szczepan, 2013; Chan & Lam, 2010).

Summative Feedback

Summative Feedback is delivered after the completion of the skill, requiring the student to remember the instructions for the following practice or performance (Zaton & Szczepan, 2013).

Utilizing Verbal Feedback to Create Effective Movement Experiences for Young Children

What type of verbal feedback is best?

For feedback to be effective in the facilitation of learning, it should be encouraging, supportive, and give instruction for improvement (Stein et al., 2012; Tzetzis et al., 2008). The quality of verbal feedback is more important than the quantity with which it is given (Vallerand, 1982). Effective feedback is appropriate to the skill and the ability of the participant, relatable to success, and delivered in a timely manner in order to allow participants to use the information to correct their performance and achieve their goals (Stein et al., 2012; Tzetzis et al., 2008). Given this criteria, the most effective type of feedback is positive,encouraging feedback. Providing encouragement with positive feedback directs learners toward achieving their goal, while helping them to feel as though they are improving and mastering that skill (Tzetzis et al., 2008; Chan & Lam, 2010). Zaton & Szczepan (2013) suggested that feedback should only contain the information necessary for success, and should be focused on the most important aspects of a skill in order to increase the clarity and ease of delivery. An effect of positive, informational feedback is that it allows learners to adapt strategies for success by maintaining those that worked, and changing those that do not (Chan & Lam, 2010). When an instructor gives positive feedback to their students, they are allowing the student to feel successful, confirm that they are capable of completing the task, and increase their self-efficacy (Chan & Lam. 2010).

When should verbal feedback be used?

The content and timing of feedback is more important than the frequency in which it is given, as such, it is more important to give quality feedback during key teachable moments (Stein et al., 2012). In their study of non-training swimmers, in which they compared a control group and an experimental group receving immediate feedback, Zaton & Szczepan (2013) found that the swimmers who received immediate feedback were able to utilize their coach’s feedback right away, and had an increased level of performance over the control group.By providing feedback during or between performances, known as formative feedback, athletes are able to use the information right away as a means to achieve their goals and feel successful (Zaton & Szczepan, 2013; Chan & Lam, 2010). Chan & Lam (2010) found that providing students with formative feedback in between performances during their single-blind, experimental study with eighty grade eight vocabulary students, was more effective than providing summative feedback after the performance had already been completed, indicating that teachable moments occur during and between performance, rather than after.

Effects of Verbal Feedback on...

Physical Activity Performance and Motor Skill Acquisition

Receiving effective verbal feedback from physical education instructors can direct learners towards the correct performance of a motor skill by reducing their errors in upcoming performances, providing characteristics of the task in the form of verbal cues, increasing attention, and providing information that learners may otherwise not percieve on their own (Zaton & Szczepan, 2013; Tzetzis et al., 2008). Teachers and instructors can help students to develop their fundamental movement skills and increase their physical literacy by providing them with positive, formative, and encouraging verbal feedback that will help them to correct their mistakes and move closer to the correct performance of the skill. This type of feedback will allow students to use the teacher’s suggestions right away, while being motivated to succeed and given the confidence in themselves to complete the task.

Self-Efficacy and Physical Activity Levels

During a study of three corrective feedback methods and their effectiveness on skill learning in badminton, Tzetzis et al. (2008) determined that the most powerful source of self-efficacy in learners is the mastery of a skill and the feeling of being successful, both of which can be facilitated by instructor feedback (Tzetzis et al., 2008). Self-efficacy is the confidence one has in themselves to take part in, or a complete a task successfully (Sweet, Fortier, Strachan, & Blanchard, 2012). Perceived self-efficacy affects the confidence with which one feels they are able to perform a task (Bandura 1997). A child’s perception of their self-efficacy takes into account their abilities and previous experiences with a task (Bandura, 1997; Chan & Lam, 2010) Positive, verbal feedback has beneficial effects on perceived self-efficacy in learners (Tzetzis et al., 2008; Chan & Lam, 2010; Stein et al., 2012). An increased self-efficacy increases motivation, resilience, stress management, self-esteem and feelings of success (Chan & Lam, 2010). Self-efficacy has been identified as a correlate of physical activity levels in young and adolescent females (Motl, Dishman, Saunders, Dowda, & Pate, 2007). Physical Activity levels refer to how often an individual takes part in physical activity, including both the amount of time, and the intensity of the activity (Motl et al., 2007). Low levels of self-efficacy have been linked to decreasing physical activity levels in young females (Motl et al., 2007). A young perceived self-efficacy can influence their decisions about whether they will take part in, and maintain participation in physical activity, as a high self-efficacy will increase their feelings of competence and resilience during hardships (Ryan & Dzewaltowski, 2002). By increasing the amount of verbal feedback students receive, teachers are enhancing their feelings of self-confidence, ability to succeed, and their resilience in effort and persistence, all increasing their self-efficacy levels and increasing the likelihood that they will continue to participate in physical activity (Chan & Lam, 2010).

Limitations of the Application of Verbal Feedback in Physical Education Settings

The unfortunate situation facing many physical education and physical activity settings is the lack of physical education specialists (Lee, Keh, & Magill, 1993). The effectiveness of verbal feedback varies based on the knowledge the teacher has of that skill. Without the proper knowledge of the stages and common errors made during the development of motor skills, teachers will be unable to recognize and correct student errors (Lee et al., 1993). Lee et al., (1993) observed that teachers lacking subject-matter competence in physical education were more likely to be silent observers during physical education classes, while more knowledgeable teachers interacted more with their students and provided effective verbal feedback moving their students towards the correct performance of the task. Training teachers in the stages of fundamental movement skills and effective feedback methods may help to prevent them from simply watching their students, and encourage them to assist their students in the correct development of motor skills through the implementation of positive, formative verbal feedback.

Suggestions for Physical Education Teachers and Physical Activity Leaders

An instructor's most important job is to provide their students with feedback in order to help them develop skills, enjoy their experience, and reach their goals (Stein et al., 2012; Tzetzis, 2008). The most powerful source of self-efficacy in young athletes is the mastery of a skill and the feeling of being successful, both of which can be facilitated by instructor feedback (Tzetzis et al., 2008). Children base their self-worth on their experiences and the feedback they receive from those around them, making the role of physical activity leaders even more important in the confidence children have in themselves to be skilled and competent movers (Tzetzis et al., 2008). Coaches, teachers and instructors should incorporate postive, formative, instructional feedback into their teaching and coaching routines in order to enhance the feelings of self-efficacy and success of their students, which will facilitate the correct performance of a skill or task (Chan & Lam, 2010; Stein et al., 2012; Tzetzis et al., 2008; Zaton & Szczepan, 2013). When an instructor provides their students with this type of verbal feedback, they are allowing the student to feel successful, confirm that they are capable of completing the task, and increase their self-efficacy towards physical activity (Chan & Lam. 2010).


Bandura, A. (1997). Self-Efficacy- The Exercise of Control. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.

Chan, J. C., & Lam, S.F. (2010). Effects of different evaluative feedback on students' self-efficacy in learning. Instr. Sci., 38, 37-58.

Lee, A.M., Keh, N.C., Magill, R.A. (1993). Instructional Effects of Teacher Feedback in Physical Education. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 12, 228-243.

Motl, R. W., Dishman, R. K., Saunders, R. P., Dowda, M., & Pate, R. R. (2007). Perceptions of Physical and Social Environment Variables and Self-Efficacy as Correlates of Self-Reported Physical Activity Amont Adolescent Girls, 32,. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 32, 6-12. Puddefoot, T., Hilliard, H., Burl, M. (1997). Effect of Verbal Feedback on the Physical Performance of Children. Physiotherapy, 83 (2), 76-81.

Ryan, G.J., Dzewaktowski, D.A. (2002). Comparing the Relationships Between Different Types of Self-Efficacy and hysical Actvity in Youth. Health Education & Behavioiur, 29, 491-504.

Stein, J., Bloom, G. A., & Sabiston, C. M. (2012). Influence of perceived and preferred coach feedback on youth athletes' perceptions of team motivational climate. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13, 484-490.

Sweet, S. M., Fortier, M. S., Strachan, S. M., & Blanchard, C. M. (2012). Testing and Integrating Self-Determination Theory and Self-Efficacy Theory in a Physical Activity Context. Canadian Psychology, 53, 319-327.

Tzetzis, G., Votsis, E., & Kourtessis, T. (2008). The effect of different corrective feedback methods on the outcome and self confidence of young athletes. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 9, 371-378.

Vallerand, R.J. (1982). The Effect of Differential Amounts of Positive Verbal Feedback on the Intrinsic Motivation of Male Hockey Players. Journal of Sport Psychology, 3, 100-107.

Vallerand, R.J., Reid, G. (1988). On the relative effects of positive and negative verbal feedback on males’ and females’ Intrinsic motivation. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 20 (3), 239-250.

Zaton, K., & Szczepan, S. (2013). The Impact of Immediate Verbal Feedback on Swimming Effectiveness. Physical Culture and Sports Studies and Research, 59, 60-71.