When preparing feedback, there’s always the question of how much is enough – or too much.

Research on the topic suggests the magic number may be three. Offering three well-thought-out responses gives trainees challenges to think about, but doesn’t overwhelm them.

Undergraduate students whose essays were reviewed by writing experts responded best when they were given three suggestions to improve the essay. More points than that and they tended to be discouraged; less and they tended to dismiss the feedback because they didn’t feel challenged.

Bottom line: If workers aren’t responding to individual feedback, see if they’re overwhelmed or unchallenged. If either one is occurring, take a look at the amount of feedback they’re getting and adjust as needed.

Source: Nicol, David (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice, Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 31, No. 2, 199-218.

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