2. How can I ensure that I am providing constructive feedback?

An important aim of feedback is to provide the student with constructive, objective, and non-evaluative performance appraisal, that the student fi nds helpful in guiding their path toward improvement of clinical skills and professional behaviours (Ende, 1983).

In order to ensure that your feedback is received positively by the student, a climate of trust and respect must be established, whereby the process of, and commitment to, learning is regarded as a partnership between the clinical educator and the student (Ovando, 1994). Be clear and explicit regarding your expectations of the student’s performance, and be committed to your responsibility for providing formal and informal, well documented observations (Ende, 1984).

To check that your feedback is provided in a way that is constructive to the student’s learning and practice development, you might consider how well your intended feedback reflects the following important characteristics:

Constructive Feedback is:

  • Individualised and relevant
  • Goal-directed
  • Well timed and expected
  • Behaviour- focused
  • Positive and encouraging
  • Collaborative
  • Change focussed (non-evaluative)
  • Factual (not generalised)
  • Digestible
  • Respectful
  • Reciprocal
  • A verification of perceptions
  • Documented
  • Followed up on at a later date

Crago & Pickering, 1987; Ende, 1983; Ovando, 1994; Watts, 1990, as cited in Clinical Placement Advisory Committee [CPAC]’ 1997)


Refer to Fact Sheet 4.1: Characteristics of constructive feedback for more detail.