If you’ve never supervised a learner driver before, then - in some ways - you’re a learner too; if you can think this way, you’ll be able to self-assess and find ways to improve.

The ability to give yourself useful feedback is what your learner driver needs most to hit the target of six months with zero harm. This page suggests questions you can both practise to learn it together.

Feedback questions should help you work out what you are doing and how it compares to what you should or could be doing. Effective feedback also:

  • guides you to the clue that will help you improve
  • is most useful soon after the event
  • is best when you’re both calm and attentive
  • should leave you both feeling good

When you notice something isn’t quite right, ask questions like: “How do you think you went? What would help you do it better next time?”

Use this checklist to help you judge and improve your use of feedback:


DESIRABLE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT YOU SHOULD DO 'Soon after' and 'calm' ‘Soon after’ and ‘calm’ go together. If you wait too long, memories of what happened will fade. When you are both calm you have the attention you need to make feedback effective. How did you (or I) go? To notice errors, you have to pay attention and be able to work out which part or parts of the action are incorrect. For example, saying “You didn’t change lanes properly back there” is unhelpful –  it describes an action that has many parts, and focuses on what didn’t happen rather than what did happen. In this case, perhaps the learner began to steer first before looking over their shoulder – discuss this with them. How should you (or I) go? This step requires you to know what the correct action is and explain and demonstrate it. If you’re not absolutely sure, find out the facts from a Keys2drive-accredited driving instructor – you could learn with your learner. When you both know and agree on the facts, there shouldn’t be any arguments. What’s the clue that will help you (or me)? You agree there is a difference between “did do” and “should do”. At this point, if you simply say “Have another go” or “Do more practice”, it’s unlikely you’ll see a quick improvement. In fact, the same mistake could be practised, which could lead to frustration. Before having another go there must be a clue for solving the learning problem. Clues can be prompts, suggestions for trying it a different way or a question that leads to new understanding. Access clues by saying “We know exactly what you should do. What will help you get it right next time you try?” Feel good? When giving feedback, aim to stay in the ‘feel-good zone’. Praise the bits that are good enough and provide encouragement for the bits that need to improve. Don’t praise poor actions, as this will send the wrong message, but you can praise effort. When the driver gains confidence, ease back on the praise so they don’t get overconfident – this is a good time to ‘raise the bar’.

Download the 'How are you going?' checklist (PDF)

Next: Tactics for managing 'difference'

Keys2drive is an Australian Government-funded program providing learner drivers and their parents/supervisors a free driving lesson with a Keys2drive accredited professional driving instructor