Good job, buddy!

As promised in last week’s great reveal about our lack of faculty-led didactics this year (thanks to all who have sent comments/ encouragement/ not thrown rocks at me), I’m absolutely convinced that one of the keys to making this transition effective lies in meaningful feedback.  Those who have worked with me know that today’s blog title is my running joke about meaningless feedback- that actually isn’t feedback at all, but is a global evaluation.

I recently came across the first concise definition of feedback that I’ve found that helps to operationalize the concept.  Feedback is, quite simply, “information about how we are doing in our efforts to reach a goal.”  It’s important to realize that it can be any information, sometimes subtle and sometimes deliberate.  What is feedback not?

-It is not advice (“Next time I would put less text on your slides.”)

-It is not an expression of preference or enthusiasm (“I LOVE your goals for yourself!”)

(Note:  Both of these examples of “not feedback” are items I am commonly guilty of with mini-clinical path correlation evaluations and with student written assignments.)

John Hattie, an Australian educator, provides a brilliant response to the question, “How can teachers learn to give and receive feedback in an appropriate and timely manner?”  His response has two key points.  First, think about feedback that is received, not the feedback that is given.  What message did your learner take away?  And second, feedback must include a “next steps” phase for the learners- his summary is that students want feedback “just for them, just in time, and with just a nudge forward.”

Grant Wiggins provides a more comprehensive list of the seven features of effective feedback.  This list includes the following (please see his original for more detail on each):

  • Goal-referenced
  • Tangible and transparent
  • Actionable
  • User-friendly
  • Timely
  • Ongoing/ dynamic
  • Consistent

If you look at the theme that underlies these features, they are all associated with achieving progress towards a goal.  Again, that idea of having the end in mind is what we need in order to know how to help people get there.  I short, feedback provides an ongoing means of formative assessment.

A paradigm I hope to play with a bit more as I work to refine my own feedback skills is the RISE model of feedback.  Most of you know that I am drawn to visual things, and this one allows students to push themselves and each other.  Perhaps we’ll see the RISE turn into the peer evaluation framework for the mini-clinical path correlations?

Now, to improve my comments above…

-“Next time I would put less text on your slides.  It can be hard for your audience to read all of it, and it distracts them from listening to you as you discuss the most important points.”

-“I LOVE your goals for yourself!  Sitting in on three family meetings and debriefing with the faculty and the family afterwards is easily actionable during your clerkship time and will expand your understanding of both perspectives.”

(And if you’re on service with me right now, get ready.  Tomorrow’s “What if?” involves me asking for your learning goal for the rest of the week!)