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College Quarterly
Fall 1993 - Volume 1 Number 1
The Effects of Precise Learning Objectives and Immediate Feedback of Achievement on Students
by Umesh Kothare

To enhance students’ overall performance, minimize attrition rates, and increase motivation to take greater responsibility for their own learning are desirable goals for post-secondary education. With these goals in mind, a first semester Introductory Psychology curriculum was organized into 12 weekly seminars. Explicit directions were given in advance to students during the orientation session regarding: (1) the preseminar reading assignment; (2) specific learning objectives (on which theywill be tested beforeandafter each seminar); (3) the grading system (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Pre-seminar reading assignments, based on precise, measurable and pre-announced objectives were provided to help students differentiate between important and unimportant materials, to focus their attention on relevant content areas, and to motivate them to take greater responsibility for their own learning. Pre-seminar quizzes and immediate performance feedback were given to reinforce motivation. The seminars included mini-lectures,structured experiences, small-group activities, and other strategies befitting specific pre-announced objectives.

Post-seminar quizzes and immediate performance feedback were provided to reinforce student achievement of pre-announced learning objectives, and to direct their activities to overcome any difficulties. Appropriate grades were assigned to reinforce perception of success and to build increased motivation. Evaluated at the end of the first semester, the results were overwhelmingly positive. Students’ attendance, participation, and overall performance were seen to have improved greatly.

Design of the Research

Encouraged by consistent positive results over three semesters, an empirical study was conducted to investigate the following hypotheses. Precise, measurable and pre-announced learning objectives, and immediate feedback of these objectives/outcomes will result in students attaining significant increases in Personal and Social Self scores [original continues …]


Umesh Kothare teaches Psychology in the School of Liberal Studies, Seneca College, Toronto, Ontario. This article is abridged from a paper originally presented to the inaugural meeting of the Association for the Study of College Education, Ottawa, Canada on June 8, 1993. The original text with full references is available from the author.