A new study has outlined that if students are eager to know their grades, they appear to have the interest to perform well in class.
Psychological scientists Keri L. Kettle and Gerald Haubl of the University of Alberta in Canada wanted to investigate how the timing of expected feedback impacts individuals' performance.
For the experiment, they recruited students enrolled in a class that required each student to give a 4-minute oral presentation.
The presentations were rated by classmates on a scale from 0 (poor) to 10 (excellent) and the average of these ratings formed the presenter's grade for that part of the course.
Students received an email 1 day, 8 days, or 15 days before their presentation and were invited to participate in this research study. Students agreeing to volunteer in the study were informed when they would receive feedback on their presentation and were asked to predict their grades.
Participating students were randomly assigned to a specific amount of anticipated feedback delay, which ranged from 0 (same day) to 17 days.
It was found that students who were told they would receive feedback quickly on their performance earned higher grades than students who expected feedback at a later time.
In addition, when students expected to receive their grades quickly, they predicted that their performance would be worse than students who were to receive feedback later.
The pattern suggests that anticipating rapid feedback may improve performance because the threat of disappointment is more prominent.
"People do best precisely when their predictions about their own performance are least optimistic," noted the authors.
Although the experiment took place in a classroom, the authors concluded that these findings "have important practical mplications for all individuals who are responsible for mentoring and for evaluating the performance of others."
The study has been published in Psychological Science.