wikiHow to Provide Feedback to Health Professions Students

Two Parts:The ProcessFeedback Questions

Learner feedback promotes accurate self-assessment of knowledge, skills, and/or behaviors. Feedback is a non-judgmental form of communication and is a necessary component of the learning process.


Effective feedback is a two-way dialogue that requires the use of both questioning and active listening skills. Questions posed by the instructor prompt student reflection and problem solving. Active listening to the student’s responses provides an indicator to the student's awareness of their own skills and challenges.


It is important to distinguish between feedback and evaluation. Evaluation is a judgment comparing learners to others or to a standard. Feedback provides the learner with performance information that facilitates improvement.

Part 1
The Process

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    Give feedback soon after the event and start with learner reflection.To encourage the learner to reflect on an action/activity ask:
    • What happened?
    • Was the outcome what you wanted? Why/why not?
    • Solicit a self-assessment from the student. What did s/he do well? What might s/he do differently?
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    Provide constructive feedback on the most important area for improvement. Describe what didn’t go well and your reason for concern. Use non-judgmental language. Focus on behavior the student can change. Build on the student’s self assessment. Check to make sure the student understands your feedback.
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    Reinforce what the student did well with specific and descriptive positive statements like: "When you asked questions, you demonstrated good eye contact." or "I liked the way that you actively listened to the patient, reflecting her answers back to verify that you heard her." Proclamations, like "good job!" are not helpful.
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    Help the student create a plan for change.
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    Model good interpersonal and communication skills. Question appropriately. Listen actively. Be honest and empathic.

Part 2
Feedback Questions

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    To help the learner better analyze what happened: What else might be impacting this situation? What have you ruled out in this situation and why?
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    To encourage the learner to explore strategies: How did you solve the problem?Do you see any other way to do this?
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    To encourage the learner to explore or critique his/her own assumptions, beliefs, values and biases: What made you think that? Why do you think you always do it this way?
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    To clarify a student’s response or redirect the focus: Can you explain more about that?What do you see as the primary problem here?
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    To encourage the student to draw conclusions based on an analysis of the experience:What did you learn in that process?
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    To encourage the learner to anticipate situations or improve the present situation:What might you do differently next time to improve the outcome?
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    What would you do if…?
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    To encourage the learner to move from discussing “the possible” to taking action:What are your goals? What will you commit to do by when?

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Categories: Teacher Resources