Self-regulatory learning theory as a lens on how undergraduate and postgraduate learners respond to feedback: A BEME scoping review: BEME Guide No. 66

Med Teach. 2022 Jan;44(1):3-18. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2021.1970732. Epub 2021 Oct 19.


Introduction: Little is known of processes by which feedback affects learners to influence achievement. This review maps what is known of how learners interact with feedback, to better understand how feedback affects learning strategies, and to explore enhancing and inhibiting factors.

Methods: Pilot searching indicated a wide range of interpretations of feedback and study designs, prompting the use of scoping methodology. Inclusion criteria comprised: (i) learners (undergraduate, postgraduate, continuing education) who regularly receive feedback, and (ii) studies that associated feedback with subsequent learner reaction. The screening was performed independently in duplicate. Data extraction and synthesis occurred via an iterative consensus approach. Self-regulatory learning theory (SRL) was used as the conceptual framework.

Results: Of 4253 abstracts reviewed, 232 were included in the final synthesis. Understandings of feedback are diverse; a minority adopt recognised definitions. Distinct learner responses to feedback can be categorized as cognitive, behavioural, affective, and contextual with complex, overlapping interactions. Importantly emotional responses are commonplace; factors mediating them are pivotal in learner recipience.

Conclusion: Feedback benefits learners most when focussed on learner needs, via engagement in bi-directional dialogue. Learner emotions must be supported, with the construction of positive learner-teacher relationships. A developmental agenda is key to learner's acceptance of feedback and enhancing future learning.

Keywords: Feedback; feedback acceptance; feedback receptivity; feedback recipience; feedback response.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Learning
  • Students, Medical* / psychology