Chair: Iain Robinson, Co-chair: Kevin Brandom | 9th March 2021, 12:30 -15:30 (UK’s time)
The Emotional Impact of Clinical Feedback Delivered on an Undergraduate Dental Clinic
Feedback is an integral aspect of any learning experience, and without student engagement, there may be a significant deleterious effect on their development and performance. Receiving clinical feedback, especially in a one-to one setting, can be a complex form of social interactions, including power balance, personal identity and emotional response between both the tutor and the student. A successful interaction requires careful management to ensure the intended learning takes place and consequently the appropriate patient care.
Summary of Work
The aim of this study was to look at the emotional impact of the feedback process in an undergraduate clinical dentistry programme. This was done by conducting semi-structured interviews with eight tutors, and seven students who were all involved in such activities. Qualitative analysis of the results from these interviews were undertaken to develop an understanding of the emotive issues raised and to suggest ways in which to alleviate them.
Summary of Results
Tutors found it difficult to deal with negative reactions, such as students becoming upset or arguing about their feedback. Tutors felt uncomfortable in having difficult conversations with students, and felt that they would benefit from more training into how to do this. The clinical tutors also thought it was important to give praise as often as possible in an attempt to prevent subsequent mental health problems.
The students described some very negative emotional responses and reported that if they fell short of the expected standard, they were sometimes so upset, that they were unable to listen to the verbal feedback. Students also perceived the feedback as mostly critical, and felt that they did not receive enough praise, which they found demoralising. Students were very affected by the student-tutor relationship, and expressed the importance of an approachable and empathic nature of the tutors in order to facilitate learning.
Discussion and Conclusion
Without adequate feedback, students are unable to make sound judgements on their progress. Both tutors and students expressed having experienced difficult feedback encounters due to negative emotional responses and subsequently a deleterious effect on learning. Although students were requesting more praise, purely positive comments may increase a student’s self-esteem but will not enhance their long-term capability and self-efficacy. The importance of the manner in which it the feedback was delivered should not be underestimated, as to be effective, it is crucial that a student feels that the staff member is facilitating their learning, rather than purely assessing their performance.
Take Home Message
Both staff and students need support/training to help them deal with their emotional responses to the feedback process to make this more of a constructive event that can be used to encourage reflection and facilitate learning.