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Giving Feedback: Why and How?

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Feedback offers learners insight into their attitude, behaviour, and performance on a specific task or activity, as well as the consequences of their actions. Without feedback, mistakes can go uncorrected, bad habits and overconfidence can develop, and positive behaviours are not reinforced. The ultimate goal of feedback is to help the physician or scientist become the best that he or she can be.

There are different kinds of feedback:

  • Informal feedback: This usually comprises “in-the-moment” formative comments on a learner’s performance based on direct observation of the learner in action. This may occur in any setting, such as in the classroom, on a clinical rotation, or in a laboratory.
  • Formal or thematic feedback: This usually occurs at the end of a course, rotation, or year of training/study and is based on multiple sources of information about the learner’s performance across an extended time period. This can also be called high-stakes or summative feedback.

This module focuses on every day, informal feedback, although the principles can be applied to both types. The goal of the module is to provide clinical and basic science faculty members a general understanding of the importance of feedback and share some strategies for giving feedback in different situations.

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  1. Explain the value of feedback.
  2. Describe the characteristics of effective feedback.
  3. Demonstrate an approach to providing feedback in various situations in the classroom, laboratory, and/or the clinical setting.