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Teaching Tips series: Giving Constructive Feedback

Feedback helps answer: “How am I doing?” and “How can I get better?”

It has been described as an essential element of the educational process that can help trainees reach their maximum potential (1). Feedback links the teaching and assessment roles of teachers and demonstrates your commitment to the learners (2).

With this in mind here are my top tips to giving constructive feedback:

Think about HOW, WHERE and WHEN you will give feedback

Signpost: Students do not often recognise feedback unless they know it is coming

B - Balanced -       Include positive and negative comments – what worked and what could be done differently. Give choices and suggestions for improvement.
O - Observed -      Base feedback on what you have observed: "I saw..." "I heard you say...". Focus on 2-3 points to avoid overwhelming the learner.
O - Objective -      Describe actions and behaviour, not personality. Take ownership of your feedback.
S - Specific -          Provide details rather than vague statements, e.g. "You summarised very effectively at the end..." instead of "That went well..."
T - Timely -           Feedback should be given as close to the event as possible to ensure accuracy and effectiveness.

Remember, BOOST your technique and improve learners’ performance.

If you would like to learn about feedback in more detail please attend our TaCTIC training days, ideal for refreshing your teaching skills.

Dr Anju Verma MA(Clin Ed) MRCP MRCGP
Associate Community Lead/ Acting Faculty Development Lead anju.verma@imperial.ac.uk

(1) Hesketh EA, Laidlaw JM. 2002. Developing the teaching instinct: Feedback. Med Teach 24(3):245–248
(2) Krackov SK. 2011. Expanding the horizon for feedback. Med Teach 33:873–874.

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