Effective feedback promotes learning, improves future performance and enhances morale. Motivated adult learners will actively seek out constructive feedback. Despite this, the quality and quantity of feedback delivered to students is a ubiquitous source of dissatisfaction within medical schools, including our own. All medical students at our University have a 5-week attachment in the clinical neurosciences. In pursuit of improving teaching we formally incorporated two substantial feedback processes into these attachments:
1. A personal tutor system with timetabled meetings for feedback on case presentations.
2. A formative assessment with a focus on detailed verbal and written feedback for each student.
In our most recent student cohort (n=25) 96% reported receiving constructive feedback at least weekly (highest satisfaction level), compared with 63% in 2009 (n=27) prior to these interventions. The mean across the medical school for 2010–11 was 72% (n=4708). The formative assessment was judged very useful (79.4%) or useful (19%) by all but one student in the most recent cohort.
These feedback processes also consistently enable us to identify and correct trends in poor examination technique, and to identify struggling students for remediation. The formative assessment allows us to ensure student performance is comparable between individual hospitals. We would advocate a strong focus on detailed individualised feedback to improve students' experience of the neurosciences. In future we aim to study the impact of these processes on retention of clinical neuroscience knowledge.
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