Feedback and Variability:Does feedback sign in the learning history affect variability?
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The CEO study from IBM (Berman, 2010) concludes that creativity is the single most important leadership competency for the organizations of today. At the same time, we know that our educational system can be detrimental to children’s naturally occurring creativity. This study conducts an inquiry into the possibility that feedback sign (positive vs negative feedback) can generate variation in behavior. Variability in behavior will not necessarily make individuals creative, but variability is considered an essential part of creativity. Simultaneously, feedback is acknowledged as an essential element of theories of learning and instruction. Former studies have concluded that reinforcement and extinction elicits variability. This study consists of an elementary computer experiment with a learning phase, where adult subjects receive either positive, negative or persistent negative feedback, followed by a phase where the subjects are free to choose without receiving any feedback. The tentative conclusion of this study is that individuals receiving positive feedback tend to repeat their answers, even in the learning phase so it takes significantly longer to learn, and on subsequent, similar tasks with no feedback. Individuals receiving negative feedback on wrong answers alter these answers relatively immediately, resulting in rapid learning. The subjects in the negative feedback group kept on varying their answers significantly more than the positive feedback group, on the succeeding similar tasks. The results of the persistent negative feedback group is similar to negative feedback, but there are differences that this study is unable to account for. A tentative conclusion of this study is; individuals use longer time learning when receiving only positive feedback on correct answers. The behaviors “learned” from the type of feedback in the feedback phase, varying or repeating, persists in subsequent similar tasks
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