A proposed conceptual framework and investigation of upward feedback receptivity in medical education

Amanda Kost, Heidi Combs, Sherilyn Smith, Eileen Klein, Patricia Kritek, Lynne Robins, Anna T. Cianciolo, Lavjay Butani, Joseph Gigante, Subha Ramani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Phenomenon: In addition to giving feedback to 3rd-year clerkship students, some clerkship instructors receive feedback, requested or spontaneous, from students prior to the clerkship’s end. The concept of bidirectional feedback is appealing as a means of fostering a culture of respectful communication and improvement. However, little is known about how teachers perceive this feedback in practice or how it impacts the learning environment. Approach: We performed 24 semistructured 30- minute interviews with 3 to 7 attending physician faculty members each in Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Surgery, Psychiatry, and Obstetrics and Gynecology who taught in 3rd-year required clerkships during the 2012-2013 academic year. Questions probed teachers’ experience with and attitudes toward receiving student feedback. Prompts were used to elicit stories and obtain participant demographics. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and entered into Dedoose for qualitative analysis. Researchers read transcripts holistically for meaning, designed a coding template, and then independently coded each transcript. A constant comparative approach and regular meetings were used to ensure consistent coding between research team members. Findings: Participants ranged in age from 37 to 74, with 5 to 35 years of teaching experience. Seventy- one percent were male, and 83% identified as White. In our preliminary analysis, our informants reported a range of experience in receiving student feedback prior to the end of a clerkship, varying from no experience to having developed mechanisms to regularly request specific feedback about their programs. Most expressed openness to actively soliciting and receiving student feedback on their teaching during the clerkship although many questioned whether this process was feasible. Actual responses to receiving student feedback were mixed. Some reported having received feedback that motivated change, and others rejected the feedback they received on the grounds that it lacked validity or was inappropriate. Others expressed uncertainty about how they would react to student feedback. Faculty expressed a preference for receiving feedback about behaviors and items that were within their control. Insights: These findings suggest there is opportunity to pilot implementation of a structured student feedback mechanism, separate from teacher evaluations, in selected 3rd-year clerkships. Materials should developed to help faculty solicit, understand, and respond to student feedback and to help students frame and provide the kinds of feedback to teachers that will lead to suggested improvements. Both these endeavors have the potential to improve the clinical learning environment during 3rd-year clerkships through the cultivation of respectful communication and the encouragement of improvement in teaching efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-361
Number of pages3
JournalTeaching and Learning in Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015


  • Faculty evaluation
  • Faculty perspectives
  • Upward feedback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Education


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