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4 ways to benefit from effective debriefs

4 ways to benefit from effective debriefs

2 min read
  • Delivering feedback
  • Leadership & teamwork

An essential part of learning is the ability to reflect on previous work and performances. An effective debrief can allow someone to pinpoint their strengths, recognise their weaknesses and show what needs to be done to improve for the future. Whether they’re an athlete striving to up their game, or a student working to improve their grades, this type of reflection can enhance their learning when it’s done right. But what can we do to ensure individuals get the most out of these debriefs?

Do debriefs work?

Research has shown that individuals who did receive a debrief, compared to those that did not, were seen to have an improvement of up to 25% on learning effectiveness. Progressions were also observed in team environments and results were seen to be just as high. This equally signifies the importance of building a good team around you.  

What makes an effective debrief?

For debriefs to have the most impact, they should do the following things:

  • Be specific – Following an event, a debrief should focus on a specific aspect of the performance, not just the general performance.
  • Be developmental – The debrief should be designed to help the participants develop and not just be conducted for administrative purposes.
  • Encourage self-learning – Debriefs should avoid just having a coach or facilitator lecturing the team on how to improve. Instead, participants should be actively encouraged to reflect on their own learning and think about what went well and what could have been done better.
  • Use multiple information sources – A debrief should use multiple information sources, this could be contributed by a member of the team and should include some form of outside influence, such as data.
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How can teachers use the power of debriefs?

Throughout the school day, teachers will have to debrief the class on aspects of their learning and development. It’s a great way to provide high quality feedback to the class about how they might have done and how best to improve.

How can sport coaches use the power of debriefs?

Throughout sport, debriefs are used in both team and individual domains to evaluate past performances in order to improve for the future. Team sports like football, often use team meetings to facilitate conversations around match analysis using videos and images. This provides content for team improvement, an essential part of playing brilliant football.

Final thoughts

With research suggesting such vast performance improvements, a debrief is a quick and cost-effective way of providing individuals with information on how to improve future performances. Coming from a person they respect, it’s a great tool for coaches, teachers and parents to use in order to get a point across after an event.

About the editor

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch

Bradley Busch is a Chartered Psychologist and a leading expert on illuminating Cognitive Science research in education. As Director at InnerDrive, his work focuses on translating complex psychological research in a way that is accessible and helpful. He has delivered thousands of workshops for educators and students, helping improve how they think, learn and perform. Bradley is also a prolific writer: he co-authored four books including Teaching & Learning Illuminated and The Science of Learning, as well as regularly featuring in publications such as The Guardian and The Telegraph.

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