3.6 Understand timing, pacing, structure, and frequency of effective feedback

mod3-calendarWhile the content and quality of feedback are very important to a student’s learning process, equally important is the frequency, consistency and type of feedback given.


Consistency is essential [1] and feedback should be provided:

  • at regular intervals; and,
  • for the duration of the placement

Frequency of feedback and supervision may tend to drop off towards the end of a clinical placement. This may be due to a preceptor’s perception of the students’ increasing skills and knowledge.

However, feedback can be particularly helpful later in a clinical experience regardless of a student’s skill level. Hence, it is important to continue to provide regular feedback until the placement concludes [2].

Immediate and relevant

The closer to the event for which feedback is provided, the more clarity and relevance it will have for the student [3].  Therefore, the following points may be useful in providing immediate feedback.

  • Discuss the event with the student as soon as possible after it occurs
  • Refer to the skill or behaviour specifically using examples of what you observed
  • Remember that over time it is easy to lose the details of your observations which may mean that learning opportunities could be lost.
  • Both you and the student are more likely to remember relevant details of an event that occurred more recently
  • Try to fit feedback in as it occurs to you; integrate it into the practice day

[1] Clynes, M.P., & Raftery, S.E.C. (2008). Feedback: an essential element of student learning in clinical practice. Nurse Education in Practice, 8, 6, 405-411. doi:10.1016/j.nepr.2008.02.003
[2] The Mountain Area Health Education Centre (MAHEC), Department of Continuing Medical Education. Evaluation – making it work: An Educational Monograph for Community-Based Teachers. 1-24. Available online: https://portal.utpa.edu/portal/page/portal/utpa_main/daa_home/hshs_home/pasp_home/pasp_preceptors/preceptors_files/Evaluation.pdf
[3] Ende, J. (1983). Feedback in clinical medical education. Journal of American Medical Association, 250(6), 777-781. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03340060055026