3. How often, and how much feedback should I provide?

Branch & Paranjape (2002) suggest three general categories of feedback with regard to medical education: brief, formal and major feedback. Each of these styles of feedback have suitable application in occupational therapy clinical education, and are discussed below.

Brief Feedback

Concrete, practical suggestions given either immediately during (particularly if safety is a concern) or immediately following, an action or student-client interaction.

For example, brief feedback might be given while the student is practicing the appropriate use of a sling or a hoist in anticipation of a client intervention; or immediately following a student demonstration to a carer on how to place the sling and use the hoist with the client. It may be preceded with “Let me show you an easier way to remove the sling” or “Let me give you some feedback”.

Formal Feedback

When a set period of time - usually five to 20 minutes, or longer - is set aside for reflection and providing practical suggestions following a particular learning experience.

For example, formal feedback might be scheduled immediately after the student has facilitated a group education session, or immediately following a student-lead home visit or functional skills assessment. It may also be given following a particularly diffi cult client encounter or when inappropriate behaviours or actions have been observed. Respect for privacy and appropriate timing of this form of feedback is important.

Formal feedback is also the feedback that is provided during weekly scheduled supervision sessions in which case, the period of time may be from 30 minutes to one hour.

This form of feedback advocates the encouragement of student self-evaluation, and should therefore be interactive. Generally, the student knows that the feedback will be given, and so will have had opportunity to reflect on performance.

For example you could open the session with a question such as “How did that session/interaction go for you?” and then “What went well, and what might you have done differently/better?” Points made by the student during self-evaluation can then be reinforced and solutions, strategies for improvement explored.

“Be mindful of the quieter student “who nods and cleverly presents as competent, presents a veneer of coping”. Often we fi nd out too late that huge gaps in knowledge exist”. This can be avoided by following the “Golden rule – get inside their heads and make them talk”. This will bring to light any limitations.” (J.Copley, OT clinical educator (personal communication, May 24, 2007).

Major Feedback Feedback sessions lasting 30 – 60 minutes which are scheduled at the midpoint of a learning experience, such as during half-way evaluation. As with formal feedback, major feedback encourages self-evaluation and reflection, and is also conducive to mid-point performance improvements and may apply to addressing issues of concern such as inadequate performance or inappropriate behaviour, where such feedback should explore strategies and end with a plan of action to improve the behaviour or performance. Major feedback is also a time to solicit reciprocal feedback from the student regarding your own teaching approach.