Feedback: Good job, read more??

By: Rob Cooney, Book Review editor

Thirty-two years ago, Jack Ende authored what would become the seminal article about feedback in medical education.  Yet in the time since, it seems that very little has changed.  Our learners crave feedback, yet almost every study performed demonstrates a perceived lack of feedback by our learners.

In their 2009 paper, “Why Medical Educators May Be Failing at Feedback,”  Bing-You and Trowbridge argue that individual learner factors may be at play and need to be considered when giving feedback.  They specifically identify poor self-assessment, affective reactions, and a lack of metacognitive skills as potential detractors from receiving feedback well.

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen (Viking, 2014) provides a framework for understanding feedback, it’s failures, and for learning about how to improve both the giving and receiving of feedback.  Within the book, the reader will learn about the different types of feedback (appreciation, coaching, and evaluation), affective triggers that impair our receiving abilities (truth triggers, relationship triggers, and identity triggers), and how to overcome these barriers in order to give and receive feedback more effectively.   The authors make good use of examples and anecdotes to help clarify key points.  Fans of other popular business books will recognize other themes (Fixed vs Growth Mindset) that become incorporated into to the topic.  This book should be read, digested, and practiced by everyone involved in education, learners and educators alike.