William T. Branch, Jr., Anuradha Paranjape
Feedback and reflection are two basic teaching methods used in clinical settings. In this article, the authors explore the distinctions between, and the potential impact of, feedback and reflection in clinical teaching.
Feedback is the heart of medical education; different teaching encounters call for different types of feedback. Although most clinicians are familiar with the principles of giving feedback, many clinicians probably do not recognize the many opportunities presented to them for using feedback as a teaching tool.
Reflection in medicine-the consideration of the larger context, the meaning, and the implications of an experience and action-allows the assimilation and reordering of concepts, skills, knowledge, and values into preexisting knowledge structures. When used well, reflection will promote the growth of the individual. While feedback is not used often enough, reflection is probably used even less.
Feedback and reflection are two basic teaching methods used in clinical settings. Although most clinicians are familiar with the principles of giving feedback, the general complaint from medical students and residents is, I never receive any feedback.1-3 There are several explanations for this perceived lack of feedback: actual lack of feedback, students' not realizing that they have been getting feedback, or problems with data collection on feedback received by students. We hypothesize that clinicians do not appreciate the role of feedback as a fundamental clinical teaching tool, and do not recognize the many opportunities for using that tool. Reflection is probably employed even less commonly in clinical teaching, although it too is a fundamental and truly powerful teaching tool. We suspect that a minority of clinical teachers understand how to use reflection. Additionally, the teacher may need to make a choice between using feedback or reflection during clinical teaching encounters. In this brief paper we explore the distinctions between and the potential impacts of feedback and reflection in clinical teaching.