Bandwith Approach to Supporting Learning

Yesterday’s talk by Royce Sadler at the University of Canberra has sent me off on a journey thinking about how learners flourish.

I liked Royce’s reference to texts from the last forty years. The trail for Royce’s talk had started me reflecting on Peter Dowrick’s work on feedforward and Ian Franks and Gary Miller’s (1991) paper Training Coaches to Observe and Remember.

After Royce’s talk I revisited a paper by Kristine Chambers and Joan Vickers (2006) on the Effects of Bandwidth Feedback and Questioning on the Performance of Competitive Swimmers.

The paper reported:

  • A coaching intervention involving Bandwidth Feedback and Questioning (BF-Q) on competitive swim times (cTIME), practice swim times (pTIME), and technique (TECH)
  • With a cohort of competitive youth swimmers over one short-course (25m) swim season.
  • Kristine and Joan concluded that coaching in which feedback was delayed and replaced with questions directed to the athletes contributed to improved technique and subsequent faster race times.
  • Compared to the Control group, the BF-Q group displayed greater gains in TECH during the intervention period and greater improvement in cTIME during the transfer period.

Kristine and Joan discussed two powerful issues arising from their research:

  1. It demonstrates that swimmers were aware of their ability to affect gains in personal athletic development. These results emphasize the importance of self-regulation, personal control, and active learning to efficient and heightened skill acquisition.
  2. Although swimmers described increases in mental work encouraged by their coach, the improvement in communication seemed to override any negative effects of the cognitive load. Improving coach-athlete interaction was one goal of combining questioning with bandwidth feedback. The present study supported the combined use of questioning and bandwidth feedback to enhance learning and maintain effective coach-athlete relationships.

I think this paper is an interesting empirical support for some of the points Royce made in his talk. In arguing for this resonance I am aware that I am attracted to bandwidth ideas.

Some time ago (twenty years in fact) Richard Schmidt discussed the impact frequent augmented feedback can have on learning. I liked his distinction between the performance impact of feedback and longer term learning.

Royce’s presentation, revisiting Kristine and Joan’s paper and returning to Richard’s arguments have encouraged me to work through Franz Marschall, Andreas Bund and Josef Wiemeyer’s (2007) meta-analysis of augmented feedback in the e-Journal Bewegung and Training 1. Their analysis reviews 40 papers published from 1989 to 2000.

Photo Credits

Coaches watching the fight

Coach with the wrestler’s hat

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