Two Canadian researchers at University of Alberta (U of A) found the knowledge of expected feedback influenced an individual's ability to perform better. Their findings are published in the forthcoming edition of Psychological Science, the journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Namely, co-authors Gerald Häubl, PhD, Canada Research Chair in Behavioral Science at U of A, and Keri L. Kettle, a PhD marketing candidate and researcher at the School of Business at U of A, studied two groups of student's academic performance, dividing the groups by grade deadlines. One group knew they would have immediate feedback while the other may have had to wait a number of weeks.

The researchers concluded that, "the mere anticipation of more rapid feedback improves performance" and "an intervention as minor as altering the date on which individuals expect to receive feedback can cause substantial differences in important outcomes" including university grades, business proposals and applications. 

However the study also revealed that "anticipated feedback proximity has contrasting effects on actual and predicted performance - people do best precisely when their predictions about their own performance are least optimistic."

Perhaps this novel study will change the way teachers, mentors, counselors, executives and the like approach individuals' performance feedback. Some of the top boarding schools in the world, known for high academic standing, give bi-monthly grades and progress reports. Parents may also want to implement timelines and encourage a reward system.

Full study, "Motivation by Anticipation: Expecting Rapid Feedback Enhances Performance":