Would you drive a car if you were only allowed to touch the steering wheel once? This is what learning with no feedback is like.
You can’t improve without feedback.
Anyone who has worked with me, knows I am obsessed with feedback, it’s easily my favourite principle of Ultralearning.
What Does Feedback Mean?
Young offers 3 categories of feedback:
This tells you, at best, if something was good or bad.
You don’t get specific advice.
Examples of outcome feedback include:
- A Grade on an exam
- A view count on a video
- Claps from an audience
This is a direct reaction to what you’re attempting.
This is different to outcome feedback, as it happens immediately.
With Informational feedback, you can see straight away that something is wrong, but you will have no clues as to how to correct the problem.
- A native speaker looking confused when you use a word incorrectly in their language
- An error message telling you your code couldn’t run
- Throwing a dart and missing the board
This is advice given by a mentor, teacher or expert.
The most useful and sadly least common type of feedback. This is because it requires the most effort to give to you.
A teacher can see what you’ve done wrong and offer ways for you to improve.
Amateurs may offer you corrections, but their advice is less likely to be accurate or helpful.
Examples of corrective feedback include:
- A driving instructor helping you correct a manoeuvre
- Ideal solutions to a maths problem set
- A Yogi correcting your posture
How to Improve Feedback
You can’t always get corrective feedback, but Young has some tactics to improve any feedback you can get.
If you are writing a blog and one post happens to go viral, think to yourself
“Is this my best post?”
In situations such as these that can’t be easily measured for quality, try to not confuse luck with skill.
Try to pick measures of success that more accurately describe success, for the blog example, this could be people leaving relevant comments on the post, to show you they really engaged with the content.
Hitting the Difficulty Sweet Spot
Every practice session, ask yourself if you are finding it too difficult or too easy.
If it’s the former, find a way to make the task easier, if it’s the latter make it harder.
Making a task harder could be playing a song faster than usual, or adding accents to the notes.
Making a song easier to play, could be to play slower, or just focus on the rhythm until you have that part down.
You can analyse your learning technique by collecting data as you go.
If you were doing maths, you could compare how many questions you get correct week on week.
If it was a language, how many mistakes you make in each conversation.
If you notice you are progressing slower than you were before, it would be a good time to consider making some improvements to your project.
High-Intensity, Rapid Feedback
This can be emotionally very difficult, at first.
Getting severe, critical feedback doesn’t feel nice, but getting used to that feeling and realising you can use it to progress is an excellent way to improve.
If you are learning to draw, expose your drawings to a teacher or a forum where people will criticise your work.
If you are doing a team sport or music, get out there and play in front of people
If you want to create a product, start selling it to people and give them a way to leave reviews, angry people are more likely to reply, but that gives you plenty of access to information on how to improve.