Impact of computer-based feedback style on learning effectiveness in simulation-supported courses

Martin Jaeger, Desmond Adair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With increasing computer power and the simplification of creating computer-based simulations, the opportunities to include simulation and serious games in engineering education have been enhanced over the last years. However, the impact of different system-feedback approaches on students' learning has been studied much less. The purpose of this study is to compare the impact of ''reflective feedback'' with the impact of ''corrective feedback'' on learning effectiveness when engineering students apply a simulator to support their learning of engineering processes. Based on the simulation of a continual improvement process, a semi-quasi experiment design, with pre-tests and post-tests carried out by a total of 175 students of an experimental group and a control group, is applied. The experiment is replicated in order to identify the impact of a larger time span between the lecture introducing the topic and the simulator application. Findings show that both feedback approaches lead equally to higher learning effectiveness with regard to eight out of ten learning concepts when the simulator is applied one week after the lecture. Corrective feedback is found to encourage students to memorize correct answers, whereas reflective feedback is found to contribute to deeper understanding of underlying concepts. However, if the simulator is applied four weeks after the lecture, a tendency of reduced learning effectiveness is identified. Engineering educators and educational institutions are encouraged to incorporate simulations to support students' learning, but they need to be aware that a larger time span between lecture and simulator application could reduce the learning effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1652-1666
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Civil engineering
  • Computer-based feedback
  • Educational simulation
  • Feedback style
  • Learning effectiveness
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Simulation game

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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