Questions about feedback

Answer to "How can teachers encourage learners to provide feedback to them?"

Positive interpersonal relationships between teachers and learners increase the quality of learning and thus the quality of feedback conversations. The larger the psychological distance between learners and teachers / supervisors (as perceived by learners), the less satisfied they are about their supervisor and the effectiveness of the supervision. Supervisors who are viewed by learners as approachable are most likely to stimulate a bidirectional dialogue on how to optimally support learners’ professional development. Inviting learners to provide feedback on supervisor’s teaching competency will also help to decrease the psychologic distance and improve quality of clinical training.


To stimulate learners to share their feedback with supervisors it is important for supervisors to:

  • Create an open learning climate and establish supportive relationships

  • Positively role model seeking and receiving feedback from colleagues and learners

  • Express to learners their opinions on the value and importance of giving feedback

  • Receive feedback in a professional way; be receptive to feedback

  • Make sure to accept feedback from learners and make changes in own behavior; the feedback giver (learner) should be able to see that teachers take their feedback seriously   

  • Openly discuss with learners that it might feel awkward for them to give feedback to supervisors, because of the hierarchy. Demonstrate openness to feedback and willingness to change

  • Create a training culture where it is clear to everyone that professionals at all levels are expected to have strengths as well as areas for improvement



Cook-Sather, A. and Luz, A. (2015) ‘Greater engagement in and responsibility for learning: what happens when students cross the threshold of student–faculty partnership’, Higher Education Research & Development, 34(6), pp. 1097–1109.

Kost, A., Combs, H., Smith, S., Klein, E., et al. (2015) ‘A Proposed Conceptual Framework and Investigation of Upward Feedback Receptivity in Medical Education’, Teaching and Learning in Medicine, 27(4), pp. 359–361.

van der Leeuw, R. M., Slootweg, I. A., Heineman, M. J. and Lombarts, K. M. J. M. H. (2013) ‘Explaining how faculty members act upon residents’ feedback to improve their teaching performance’, Medical Education, 47(11), pp. 1089–1098.

Myers, K. and Chou, C. L. (2016) ‘Collaborative and Bidirectional Feedback Between Students and Clinical Preceptors: Promoting Effective Communication Skills on Health Care Teams’, Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health, 61(S1), pp. 22–27.

Vaughn, L. M. and Baker, R. C. (2004) ‘Psychological size and distance: emphasising the interpersonal relationship as a pathway to optimal teaching and learning conditions’, Medical Education, 38(10), pp. 1053–1060.

Willett, R. M., Lawson, S. R., Gary, J. S. and Kancitis, I. A. (2007) ‘Medical Student Evaluation of Faculty in Student–Preceptor Pairs’, Academic Medicine, 82(10), p. S30.