In his seminal article, Jack Ende defined feedback in medical education as

"Information describing students' or house officers' performance in a given activity that is intended to guide their future performance in that same or in a related activity." (1983:777)

What is Feedback?

Feedback addresses specific actions and its goal is student improvement.

What is the Difference Between Feedback and Evaluation?

The concepts of feedback and evaluation are often blurred, especially as one considers both formative Formative(adj): Susceptible to transformation by growth and development and summative Summative(adj): of or relating to a summation or produced by summation evaluation (see Module 7 Evaluating Your Students) However, the primary difference between feedback and evaluation relates to the assessment of "value" or "judgment." Evaluation is the process of ascribing value to whatever is under assessment. For example, it can relate to how well a student learned what he or she was supposed to learn as part of a specific rotation

Feedback focuses on providing information, with the goal of improving whatever is being addressed; the concept of "value" or "judgment" is not included. Feedback also is typically less formal and the timing of feedback can often occur immediately.

Why is Feedback Important?

Giving effective feedback is instrumental in helping students learn. Students who receive regular feedback about their performance perform significantly better, develop better judgment, and learn faster than those who do not. Furthermore, students like feedback and they identify it as one of the most important qualities of a good preceptor, second only to clinical competence.

Let us consider two examples:

Video 1 : Example of bad feedback Video 2 : Example of good feedback

The second scenario had a better outcome than the first. The student was more open to the feedback and integrated the information into his clinical repertoire.

Benefits of Feedback

  • It helps students evaluate their own performance.
  • It serves as a mirror in which students can see what they do well and what they need to improve.
  • It helps students understand your expectations and whether they are meeting those expectations.
  • A system of regular feedback encourages students to try new skills.

  • It provides an opportunity for you to show interest in your student's development.
  • It facilitates communication.
  • It provides a forum for you to be proactive in identifying and addressing potential "problem" situations.
  • It facilitates the evaluation process.
  • Feedback from students can also help to improve your teaching skills.

Module 4: Providing Feedback