The effects of immediate versus delayed feedback on complex concept learning

Daniel Corral, Shana K. Carpenter, Sam Clingan-Siverly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We report three experiments that examine whether immediate versus delayed feedback produce differential concept learning. Subjects were shown hypothetical experiment scenarios and were asked to determine whether each was a true experiment. Correct-answer feedback was used for all three experiments; Experiments 2 and 3 also included detailed explanations. In all three experiments, subjects who received immediate feedback were shown the correct answer after each response. In Experiments 1 and 2, subjects in the delayed feedback condition were shown feedback after responding to all of the scenarios. All subjects then completed a posttest with novel scenarios. Experiment 3 was three parts (each session was 2 days apart). Subjects in the immediate feedback condition completed the posttest on the second session; subjects in the delayed feedback condition were given feedback on the second session and completed the posttest on the third session. Although no posttest differences were observed between the feedback conditions in Experiments 1 and 2, a delayed feedback advantage was found in Experiment 3. We propose that longer intervals in delayed feedback (relative to shorter intervals) might allow learners to forget the incorrect hypotheses they form during learning, which might thereby enhance the processing of feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)786-799
Number of pages14
JournalQuarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Immediate versus delayed feedback
  • complex concept acquisition
  • explanatory feedback
  • transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)


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