Skip to content. Skip to navigation

Faculty Development

You are here: Home / How to Give Feedback / What is feedback?

What is feedback?

Feedback is an essential part of education and training programmes. It helps learners to maximise their potential at different stages of training, raise their awareness of strengths and areas for improvement, and identify actions to be taken to improve performance.

Feedback can be seen as informal (for example in day-to-day encounters between teachers and students or trainees, between peers or between colleagues) or formal (for example as part of written or clinical assessment). However, ‘there is no sharp dividing line between assessment and teaching in the area of giving feedback on learning’ (Ramsden, 1992, p. 193). Feedback is part of the overall dialogue or interaction between teacher and learner, not a one-way communication.

If we don't give feedback what is the learner gaining, or indeed, assuming?

They may think that everything is OK and that there are no areas for improvement. Learners value feedback, especially when it is given by someone credible who they respect as a role model or for their knowledge, attitudes or clinical competence. Failing to give feedback sends a non-verbal communication in itself and can lead to mixed messages and false assessment by the learner of their own abilities, as well as a lack of trust in the teacher or clinician.

Most clinicians already give feedback to students or trainees. This module offers some suggestions on how you can improve the feedback you give so that you are better able to help motivate and develop learners’ knowledge, skills and behaviours.

Print module to PDF

Save a PDF of this module, so you can print it and read it in your own time.

Email your comments

Let us know what you think about this module or give us your feedback.

Further information

More information about this module, further reading and a complete list of glossary terms.

Learning activities

Read about the recommended learning activities for this module.