This article will continue to look at goal-focused feedback and the importance of this for the individual’s growth, development and learning; as opposed to fault-focused feedback, which serves little purpose even in terms of preparing someone for the test (whether L test, Part 3, Standards Check or ORDIT).
Let’s take a look at the following structure and consider how it might help us stick with goal-focused feedback: Assessment, Feedback, Development.
Ensure that a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed) goal is set first so that you know what you are assessing. In this respect the Goal should be linked to the purpose of the assessment and needn’t be finalised until after the assessment. Avoid talking about ‘having a drive and seeing what is thrown up’ because this is likely to take you down the route of fault-focused feedback.
Set up the assessment so that the customer can drive for at least a few minutes. This means that you will need to agree the route you are going to be driving on and the level of support the customer will need during the assessment. For example, if you are going to look at junctions, agree a five to ten-minute route where the pupil has to deal with emerging from junctions. The aim of the assessment is to get around the route so you will need to manage the risk but you shouldn’t deal with any faults.
Once the drive is concluded, pull up at the side of the road and start the feedback by referring to the Goal that was agreed at the start of the assessment. If the customer wants to start talking about the faults, ask them to hang fire and focus first of all on the positives. Diving straight into the negatives is not effective for someone’s learning but it is often the way that people will want do things because of their previous experience. It is your job to steer them clear of this. The conversation might go like this:
Q: What went well during that drive dealing with junctions?
A: I was able to put the routine into practice.
Q: Tell me more about this.
A: I was trying to think through MSPSL and found it helped me as I approached the junctions. This then gave me more time to plan and then look for a safe gap.
Q: Okay. What else went well?
A: I was thinking about whether the junction was open or closed and trying to assess my visibility into the new road.
Q: Anything else that you were really pleased with?
A: My speed on the approach.
Q: What was it about this that you were pleased with?
A: I stopped in good time.
Of course, some customers will not respond as well as in this example but it reinforces their learning if you are able to highlight their strengths. So, if they say, ‘I don’t know’, you could be specific and say, ‘What about the routine – how did that go?’.
Once you have exhausted the positives, move onto the weaknesses by asking, ‘What didn’t go so well?’ To which the customer might reply, ‘Well, I keep stopping at the end of the road and then realising that I could have gone.’
On the other hand, the customer may not give you an answer and if this is the case, you could ask, ‘What would you do differently next time?’ or ‘What do you want to improve next time?’
The idea is that the whole of the feedback session is client-centred, which means that you are drawing the information out of the customer and avoiding having any input yourself.
This is where you agree an action plan for development – where does the customer need to go from here to achieve their goal? You might need to re-define the goal at this point and again agree the route and the level of support.
You might decide to have some focused development on a specific area. For example, helping the pupil emerge using a ‘rolling first gear’ so that they can keep the car moving if it is safe to do so.
You could demonstrate how to approach a junction, slip into first gear, find the biting point and creep up to the give-way line whilst looking. You could do this in silence just asking the pupil to watch; or you could talk yourself through as you are doing this. Remember, to keep the demonstration focused on the point – rolling first gear emerges – and don’t bring anything else into it. Then let the pupil have a go and, again, just focus on the emerges – it really doesn’t matter what else occurs so long as you keep the car safe.
Finally, the pupil should be able to go around the whole circuit again, using rolling first gear emerges where necessary.
The most important part of this process – Assessment, Feedback, Development – is that you reflect and evaluate how YOU got on. Consider, what did you do well? What did you not do so well? What would you do to improve? And then come up with an Action Plan for your development.
Written by Susan McCormack
I feel that the feedback we use on a day-to-day basis tends to be ‘fault-focused’ and negative and this is not just to do with teaching people to drive, it happens all the time. The only occasions we offer someone feedback is when we want to criticise them and then we try to wrap it up in a praise sandwich, which leaves the receiver feeling demoralised and demotivated. It would often have been better to say nothing at all.
The point of feedback is to help the other person develop their critical-thinking and self-evaluation skills. In this respect, feedback is a coaching skill, where coaching raises awareness and builds responsibility.
I have written about this a lot – but I think it is really important to focus on these two phrases to develop an understanding of the point of coaching. ‘Raising awareness’ means facilitating the person’s self-awareness of how their thoughts and feelings affect and motivate their behaviour so that they can learn to manage their thoughts and feelings more effectively to produce positive, social interactions. ‘Building responsibility’ follows from raised self-awareness, where we take ownership of the interactions and communications we have with others to produce positive outcomes. Both of these things combine in emotional intelligence.
The next point I want to make is that coaching is based on the belief that learning comes from within. This is a belief about how learning takes place. We used to believe that learning took place through a transfer of knowledge and information from the ‘expert’ to the ‘learner’. This is an old-fashioned and out of date belief.
We now know so much more about how the brain works and the importance of being able to learn through experimentation, followed by reflection and further practice. It is our job to facilitate this process with the feedback we use – not just with our customers but in our everyday lives. To achieve this, we must have an equal, non-judgemental relationship with our customers so that we can help raise their awareness of how their thoughts and feelings motivate their behaviour with questions like, ‘How did that make you feel?’ ‘What thoughts were going through your head then?’
We cannot do this in a hierarchical relationship because that would pre-suppose that we know how they think and how they feel, when we don’t. The equal relationship is vital here precisely because we have no idea how they think or feel – and possibly, they do not either, so we need to stimulate these kind of reflective processes in them.
We need to recognise that we interfere with people’s self-development when we offer our opinion.
Our aim should be ‘goal-focused’ feedback rather than ‘fault-focused’ feedback. Client-centred learning techniques and coaching skills encourage goal-focused feedback.
Let’s take a look at two examples:
‘Okay, how do you think that went?’
‘Yeah, okay, I think …’
‘Yep, not bad … quite good actually. However, there are a couple of areas where you need to focus attention. Your speed was too high as you steered back and you weren’t looking in the right places – you didn’t notice that car coming did you? Also, you have ended up too far away from the kerb. But, overall, not a bad attempt. Let’s have another go and I’ll remind you with the speed and the observations.’
This example is a praise sandwich. The purpose of the feedback is for the ‘expert’ instructor to develop the pupil by pointing out their mistakes, in order to produce a ‘test-ready’ manoeuvre. The focus is on behaviour with no allusion to thoughts and feelings and no attempt to raise the pupil’s self-awareness of their strengths and weaknesses; or build their self-responsibility.
‘Okay, remind me what your goal was with this manoeuvre?’
‘Err, I wanted to get the car in close to the kerb.’
‘Shall we get out of the car and have a look so that you can tell me whether you achieved your goal?’
‘It looks too far away to me. What do you think?’
‘If you were parking your car to go and see a friend, would you be happy to leave it this distance from the kerb?’
‘No, someone might hit it because it is sticking out too much.’
‘Okay, so how will you get the car closer to the kerb next time? Talk me through what you did and what you would change.’
‘Let’s have another go. Remember your goal of getting close to the kerb and we’ve agreed that you want to practise this without any help from me. As before, I will let you concentrate on the goal and manage the risk by doing the observations for you. Also, if I feel you are going a little fast, I will prompt you to slow down. How does that sound?’
Goal-focused feedback is much more rewarding because it involves the pupil in the process and encourages them to work things out for themselves. They can make mistakes and learn from these in their own way because you are managing the risk and they are focusing on the goal.