H: 'Providing feedback in sport' by Professor Nic James

Session report by Paul Smith (Senior Educational technologist, CAPE)

To read the abstract which was submitted prior to the conference please click here

This session was themed around the nature of feedback and different ways that it can be provided to students, specifically in the field or performance analysis in sports. We began with Martin Loomes discussing what is actually meant by the term 'feedback' and what its purpose is, the overriding argument being that it should serve to improve performance. The concept of the 'feedback sandwich' (where criticism is 'sandwiched' between two pieces of praise) was discussed and it was argued that such techniques are not necessarily useful because it's all too easy for the constructive criticism to be drowned out by praise which may or may not be deserved.

The second part of the session focused on how performance analysis can be used in sports to provide useful feedback.

Research suggests that on average, athletes and coaches can only recall 30% of performance correctly –performance analysis (PA) helps with the remaining 70%

(English Institute of Sport; 2012)

Nic James used the above quote to highlight the importance of performance analysis as a feedback tool for having a direct impact on athletes' attainment. Performance analysis objectively records performance so that key elements can be quantified consistently and therefore measured in an unbiased way, by using a set of rules to ensure scientific rigor. For instance a footballer's performance is measured by looking at various statistics recorded throughout a football match, such as completed passes or shots on target.

The problem with the traditional model is that feedback is provided to the student after the event in a loose feedback loop which can take a long time to complete. The challenge lies in finding ways to provide live feedback while the task is being completed in ways that are not obstrusive. One example that was mentioned was the use of Google Glass which can be used to provide prompts to students in real time, tightening the feedback loop and leading to quicker improvement of performance.