The goal of the current research was to better understand when and why feedback has positive effects on learning and to identify features of feedback that may improve its efficacy. In a randomized experiment, second-grade children received instruction on a correct problem-solving strategy and then solved a set of relevant problems. Children were assigned to receive no feedback, immediate feedback, or summative feedback from the computer. On a posttest the following day, feedback resulted in higher scores relative to no feedback for children who started with low prior knowledge. Immediate feedback was particularly effective, facilitating mastery of the material for children with both low and high prior knowledge. Results suggest that minimal computer-generated feedback can be a powerful form of guidance during problem solving.
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