Molloy E, Ajjawi R, Bearman M, Noble C, Rudland J, Ryan A.
Research suggests that feedback in the health professions is less useful than we would like. In this paper, we argue that feedback has become reliant on myths that perpetuate unproductive rituals. Feedback often resembles a discrete episode of an educator "telling," rather than an active and iterative involvement of the learner in a future-facing process. With this orientation towards past events, it is not surprising that learners become defensive or disengaged when they are reminded of their deficits.
We tackle three myths of feedback: (a) feedback needs praise-criticism balancing rules; (b) feedback is a skill residing within the teacher; and (c) feedback is an input only. For each myth we provide a reframing with supporting examples from the literature.
Equipping learners to engage in feedback processes may reduce the emotional burden on both parties, rendering techniques such as the feedback sandwich redundant. We also highlight the benefits for learners and teachers of conceptualising feedback as a relational activity, and of tracing the effects of information exchanges. These effects may be immediate or latent, and may manifest in different forms such as changes in learner evaluative judgement or professional identity.