Using “good” as feedback – meaningless or meaningful in sports contexts? A comment on praise and feedback on the personal level


Katarina Lundin
Lund University and Linnaeus University, Sweden

Foto: Anders Andersson/Studentlitteratur AB

An issue in sports contexts as well as other educational contexts has been whether feedback on the personal level, often in the shape of praise, contributes to the progression of the practitioners’ skills. This article examines whether PEH teachers’ feedback on the personal level, using the word good, in specific contexts actually can contribute to crucial progress and empowerment of the pupils/practitioners. The empirical material consists of video- and audio-documentation from training sessions in athletics, jujutsu, and gymnastics, and from preparatory classes in Physical Education and Health, where the pupils were newly arrived immigrants in Sweden. As a complement, observations were made and documented in writing. In the analysis, Basil Bernstein’s superordinate concept code is used, which includes the principles classification and framing. A strong classification results in exclusion, whereas a weak classification can open up with respect to content. Correspondingly, a strong framing precludes, whereas a weak framing opens up towards a broadened and changeable concept. A strong classification and framing results in a separated code, whereas a weak classification and framing results in an integrated code. The integrated code is manifested in a shift in the balance of power and a loosened division of control between the teacher of the preparatory class and his pupils. Furthermore, the integrated code opens up for empowerment and the development of an identity, which per se contributes to a progression and development of the pupils. 

The conclusion is that, under specific circumstances, using good as feedback, in the shape of praise and on the personal level, is meaningful. It can even be considered effective, positive, and useful in certain sports contexts and aims at developing an identity rather than performance skills and at empowering practitioners. Feedback on the personal level does not primarily contribute to the progression and development of sport-specific skills of the practitioners, but its contribution to the empowerment of the practitioners, on the other hand, is obvious.

Click here to read this peer reviewed article in Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum, Vol. 12, 2021

KATARINA LUNDIN is an Associate Professor in Scandinavian Linguistics, Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University, and Guest Researcher at the Department of Sport Science, Linnaeus University, Sweden. Her research is focused on language use in sport contexts inside and outside school, on the one hand, and grammar and applied linguistics, on the other. In addition, she is involved with Swedish teacher education at Lund University.


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