Matt Edwards

Associate Professor of Voice, Shenandoah Conservatory Artistic Director of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute

Mix it up Monday: KP and KR Feedback

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2000px-Lobes_of_the_brain_NL.svg.pngAugmented feedback is information received from others when performing a task. In the voice studio, this feedback comes from the teacher. Augmented feedback comes in two types “knowledge of performance” (KP) and “knowledge of results” (KR). KP feedback gives the singer information about how they produced a sound. For example, you may tell the student they didn’t smile enough on the high note, or that they raised their chin, or that their abdominal wall wasn’t engaged. When using KR feedback, instead of telling the student what they did wrong, the teacher tells the student how close they came to the goal. So for instance, you may tell the student that the vowel was “almost right” or that some aspect of their performance is “80% there.”

It is important to know when to provide each of these types of feedback. For instance, KP feedback is usually most beneficial in the initial stages of learning a new skill. However, the teacher needs to be careful not to micromanage the student. Micromanaging prevents the student from having time to assess their own performance. While the micromanaged student may perform better in the lesson, it is more likely that they will return to the next lesson and appear to have made little progress from the last session. This is because the student was relying solely on the teacher to achieve the desired results.

When a student has a clear understanding of what is expected and is working on consistency and mastery of a skill, KR feedback is usually more effective. However, in order for the KR feedback to be effective, the student must understand what the target is and how to get there. Sometimes in the excitement of the moment, we want to offer feedback immediately after a student has sung a phrase. However, kinesiology studies suggest that immediately offering feedback may impede progress. Instead, wait a few seconds, let the student process what they did, and then offer your feedback. Ask them to “think about that for a minute” and then try the exercise/phrase again. This gives the student time to process the feedback and has been shown to enhance skill acquisition.

As you teach this week, think about what kind of feedback you are offering and try experimenting with KP and KR as appropriate. When you offer KR instead of KP, it is likely your student will make more mistakes and it may take them more time to “get it right” in the lesson. However, the long-term gains they will make as they become more self-sufficient are well worth it.

For more information about motor learning as described in this post, check out The Vocal Athlete by Dr. Wendy LeBorgne, CCC-SLP and Marci Rosenberg, CCC-SLP. Wendy and Marci will be guests this summer at the New CCM Institute and will be teaching participants how to incorporate motor learning principles during session I.

If you have thoughts or comments, please share them below. Thanks for reading!


2 comments on “Mix it up Monday: KP and KR Feedback

  1. Laurel
    April 4, 2016

    Great concept, I like the idea of breaking it apart like that. Couldn’t one step further be allowing the student, not the teacher, be the sole provider of all kinds of feedback? If the student knows the goal at hand, isn’t their perception of ‘that time I was off target’ or ‘this time I was on target’ the most valuable learning tool? The Tim Gallwey ‘Inner Game of Tennis’ approach, that if the instructor is the provider of all feedback, the student’s goal just becomes to please the instructor.
    I hear you saying that there’s more room for student led feedback in KR feedback, I’m just thinking of your first sentence and that the belief that instructors must control all feedback in a lesson may be the biggest issue.


  2. Eva
    April 13, 2016

    Laurel: yes, but not in the initial stages of learning. They will not have an adequate error-detection part of the motor program yet to do so, initially. They need to really know the goal first. Then: yes, you are right. There is also evidence to suggest that self-elicited feedback (the student only gets KR when s/he asks for it, not at the teacher’s schedule, and not randomly, and not constant), they will do trials until they feel they have a good one, and THEN ask for feedback, because they know that then they’re going to get positive feedback. However, this has not panned out in a study in voice by the Hong Kong group, possibly b/c there are too many other variables influencing learning (i.e. how hard the skill is for that particular individual).


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This entry was posted on April 4, 2016 by in Misc. Thoughts, Motor Learning.

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