Identifying educator behaviours for high quality verbal feedback in health professions education: literature review and expert refinement

Christina E Johnson, Jenny L Keating, David J Boud, Megan Dalton, Debra Kiegaldie, Margaret Hay, Barry McGrath, Wendy A McKenzie, Kichu Balakrishnan R Nair, Debra Nestel, Claire Palermo, Elizabeth K Molloy

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Background: Health professions education is characterised by work-based learning and relies on effective verbal feedback. However the literature reports problems in feedback practice, including lack of both learner engagement and explicit strategies for improving performance. It is not clear what constitutes high quality, learner-centred feedback or how educators can promote it. We hoped to enhance feedback in clinical practice by distinguishing the elements of an educator?s role in feedback considered to influence learner outcomes, then develop descriptions of observable educator behaviours that exemplify them. Methods: An extensive literature review was conducted to identify i) information substantiating specific components of an educator's role in feedback asserted to have an important influence on learner outcomes and ii) verbal feedback instruments in health professions education, that may describe important educator activities in effective feedback. This information was used to construct a list of elements thought to be important in effective feedback. Based on these elements, descriptions of observable educator behaviours that represent effective feedback were developed and refined during three rounds of a Delphi process and a face-to-face meeting with experts across the health professions and education.
Original languageEnglish
Article number96
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • feedback
  • clinical practice
  • Delphi process
  • Health professions education
  • Educator behaviour

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