Apprenticeship toolkit

Giving feedback that feeds forward

Research shows that one of the most important factors in the learning process is feedback received and how the learner acts on that feedback.

A common observation made by HMIs in poor reports is that workplace mentors don’t provide feedback to apprentices that helps them understand how they can improve.

Feedback needs to be balanced – praising what is good as well as correcting errors – and it needs to ‘feed forward’. Apprentices need to know how to improve next time. This can be particularly difficult where an apprentice achieves a pass but does not understand how they could turn this into a merit or distinction.

Giving feedback in digital format can help. Verbal feedback is easily forgotten and handwritten feedback can be difficult to decipher. Apprentices are more likely to refer back to material stored digitally. Where feedback is in audio or video format it often feels more personal and meaningful.

Example of effective practice

City of Glasgow College enhanced apprentice learning through feedback. The college realised its stonemasonry apprentices were not encouraged to record lessons learned, celebrate progress or reflect on their feedback. As a result apprentices tended not to revisit their assessments and were only interested in the grades awarded. An e-portfolio with photographs and videos recorded in the workplace and at college was implemented with benefits such as:

  • Employers wanted to approve images taken in the workplace thus taking a more active interest in their apprentices’ course work
  • Video recordings act as a reflective tool, encouraging students to revisit past assignments and learn from mistakes and achievements
  • Trainers have used film of them giving feedback in the verification process and to aid their own continuous professional development (CPD)