Types of feedback

Providing regular, effective feedback to your student is one of your most important roles as a clinical supervisor. Numerous opportunities for giving feedback should occur during a clinical placement including:

  • Informal feedback: part of the normal day-to-day interaction. 
  • ‘Formative’ feedback i.e. feedback that is specifically designed to reflect on the student’s current performance, relative to learning objectives, with guidance on strategies for improvement, THAT IS NOT ASSESSED.
  • Formal feedback associated with assessment
  • FACT SHEET - Framing Feedback


Giving Effective Feedback

Giving effective feedback is a skill to be learnt.  In short, feedback should be:

  • Timely: as close as possible to the event but with care to pick a good moment (not when you or the staff member is exhausted, distracted or upset).
  • Specific: Vague or generalised praise or criticism is difficult to act upon. Be specific so that the student will know what to do.
  • Constructive: Talk in terms of what can be improved. 
  • In an appropriate setting: Positive feedback can be effective when given in the presence of peers or patients. Negative feedback (constructive criticism) should be given in a private and undisturbed setting.
  • Use attentive listening: Supervisees should be given the chance to comment on the fairness of feedback and to provide explanations for their performance. A feedback session should be a dialogue between two people. (Health, Education and Training Institute, 2011)

Consequences of a Lack of Clear Feedback

Cohan, 2005 (as quoted in Health Education and Training Institute, 2011) lists the following consequences of a lack of clear feedback:

  • Clinical care is not as good as it could be
  • Anxieties and inadequacies are not addressed
  • When weaknesses are exposed later in their career, the staff member has difficulty accepting criticism because of previous ‘good reports’
  • Others are blamed when the staff member is unsuccessful
  • Learning is inhibited, career progression is delayed
  • Staff are not given the ability to develop to their full potential

Therefore, even though at times it can be challenging giving negative feedback, failure to do so can have a significant effect on the student’s future development and career.

Clinical Tips for Feedback

  • Emphasise the key points
  • Limit the number of key points
  • Don’t talk too fast. Use pauses
  • Clear and precise use of words or terms
  • Monitor for understanding
  • Acknowledge/reward responses
  • Include elements of advanced questioning


Please also read the Advanced Questioning section contained within the Communication section of this website. 

Video Scenarios:  Ineffective and Effective Communication

 These four scenarios explore the impact of communication skills on feedback to a student on placement. In scenario 1 the clinical educator tells the student his view of the session. The feedback is clear and specific but not constructive. The clinical educator does not acknowledge what the student has done well. He doesn't use positive body language and fails to interpret the student's body language while giving feedback. 




In scenario 2 the clinical educator's message is not clear and the student is left wondering what was the point of the feedback.



In scenario 3 the clinical educator is positive but time poor and does not dedicate time to provide feedback to the student.



In the final scenario the clinical educator has excellent communication skills and the feedback session goes well. The process is a facilitated discussion where the student is engaged and reflects on her performance. 




Reflection Activity: Giving Effective Feedback

Giving effective feedback is a skill to be learnt.
(read more...)



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