Beyond "Read More": An Intervention to Improve Faculty Written Feedback to Learners

J Grad Med Educ. 2019 Aug;11(4):468-471. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-19-00058.1.


Background: High-quality feedback is necessary for learners' development. It is most effective when focused on behavior and should also provide learners with specific next steps and desired outcomes. Many faculty struggle to provide this high-quality feedback.

Objective: To improve the quality of written feedback by faculty in a department of medicine, we conducted a 1-hour session using a novel framework based on education literature, individual review of previously written feedback, and deliberate practice in writing comments.

Methods: Sessions were conducted between August 2015 and June 2018. Participants were faculty members who teach medical students, residents, and/or fellows. To measure the effects of our intervention, we surveyed participants and used an a priori coding scheme to determine how feedback comments changed after the session.

Results: Faculty from 7 divisions participated (n = 157). We surveyed 139 participants postsession and 55 (40%) responded. Fifty-three participants (96%) reported learning new information. To more thoroughly assess behavioral changes, we analyzed 5976 feedback comments for students, residents, and fellows written by 22 randomly selected participants before the session and compared these to 5653 comments written by the same participants 1 to 12 months postsession. Analysis demonstrated improved feedback content; comments providing nonspecific next steps decreased, and comments providing specific next steps, reasons why, and outcomes increased.

Conclusions: Combining the learning of a simple feedback framework with an immediate review of written comments that individual faculty members previously provided learners led to measured improvement in written comments.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Faculty, Medical / education*
  • Feedback*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency
  • Learning*
  • Writing*