Published on Sat Jun 19 2021

Instructor-learner neural synchronization during elaborated feedback predicts learning transfer

Zhu, Y., Leong, V., Hou, Y., Zhang, D., Pan, Y., Hu, Y.

The provision of feedback with complex information beyond the correct answer, i.e., elaborated feedback, can powerfully shape learning outcomes. However, an understanding of neurocognitive processes of elaborated feedback during instructor-learner interactions remains elusive.

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Abstract

The provision of feedback with complex information beyond the correct answer, i.e., elaborated feedback, can powerfully shape learning outcomes such as transfer, i.e., the ability to extend what has been learned in one context to new contexts. However, an understanding of neurocognitive processes of elaborated feedback during instructor-learner interactions remains elusive. Here, a two-person interactive design is used during simultaneous recording of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) signals from adult instructor-learner dyads. Instructors either provided elaborated feedback (i.e., correct answer and an example) or simple feedback (i.e., correct answer only) to learners during a concept learning task. Our results showed that elaborated feedback produced comparable levels of retention to simple feedback, however, transfer was significantly enhanced by elaboration. We also noted significant instructor-learner neural synchronization in frontoparietal regions during the provision of elaborated feedback, especially when examples were provided. Further, interpersonal neural synchronization in the parietal cortex successfully predicted transfer of knowledge to novel contexts. This prediction was retained for both learner-delayed and learner-preceding neural synchronization. These findings point toward transfer effects of elaborated feedback provided in a social context can be predictable through interpersonal neural synchronization, which may hold important implications for real-world learning and pedagogical efficacy.