Five Year-1 male students in the BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy programme joined the workshop. Their ages ranged from 19 to 32. All participants completed the questionnaire and joined the focus group.
Feedback literacy questionnaire result
A Wilcoxon signed rank test was performed to compare the differences between the total mean score on the questionnaire pre- and post-workshop. Results indicated that the post-workshop mean score was not statistically significant different compared to the pre-test mean score (Z=-4.05, p=0.686). The mean scores on the pre- and post-feedback literacy questionnaire were 71.25 (SD=7.50) and 70.8 (SD=8.50), respectively. The pre-test and post-test mean scores of each survey item are listed in Table 1.
Focus group analysis
Four themes were identified from the focus group analysis, two of which related to the participants’ usual perceptions and experiences of feedback and the other two answered the question on the effectiveness of the workshop.
Theme 1 – Mixed feedback experience
Participants described their usual feedback perceptions and experiences as both positive and negative. The positive experience related to the alignment between received feedback and results of self-reflection, the ability to observe reactions to feedback or changes in performance according to feedback.
“After I finished a task, I knew there were something that I did not do well, and the feedback I got matched with what I did not do well.” (S3)
“They did not give me feedback directly but I would observe their momentum and their level of engagement, improvement and joy and I would know the effects of my class.” (S4)
There was also a mention of the negative emotional aspect of feedback, which obviously hindered the motivation to act on it.
“I had to request [the tutor] for the written feedback, but the written feedback talked about something else, and that I did not meet the requirement … I think I should have passed, I felt rejected…” (S4)
“I had received some negative feedback in the past, it was overwhelming and I wanted to fix it. But I continued to receive negative feedback, then it piled up and affected my motivation.” (S2)
It appeared that some participants had not had very good feedback experiences in the past. The negative experiences might have created a barrier for them to meaningfully act on feedback and this is one of the major components in the new feedback paradigm. The quotes illustrated that participants were somewhat aware of the influences of negative feedback but they were left with no resources to change the situation. The word ‘rejected’ in S4’s quote is a strong word that signifies a rather negative feeling and emotion associated with the feedback process.
Theme 2 – Feedback depends on “relationship”
Participants mentioned multiple times that they felt the relationship between the feedback giver and receiver needs to be instrumental for feedback to be useful. The characteristics that make a feedback giver more effective, according to the participants, include being professional, experienced, competent, direct, convincing and context-specific. Perhaps the most influential attribute mentioned by the participants was trust and rapport.
“Even if the feedback is good, if I don’t have a trusted relationship with him [the feedback giver], I will not accept that feedback.” (S5)
“Maybe he [feedback giver] did not see things [when giving feedback] from my perspectives, and I also did not view from his perspectives, then that created a big misunderstanding.” (S5)
These quotes suggested that a rapport between the feedback giver and receiver is essential to spearhead the use of feedback. The rapport depends on personal and professional attributes which are not new to the field of feedback research. However, they may also be related to the feedback receiver’s ability to manage their affect if a trustworthy and respectful relationship exists.
Theme 3 – Expectation mismatch
Participants found that the workshop activities, such as reflection on past experiences, practices of mindfulness and discussions on authentic feedback scenarios provided valuable experiences for them to learn how to apply the new feedback process. However, they equally mentioned a number of expectation mismatches of the workshop. They expected having expert guest lectures to deliver part of the workshop, lecture notes for revision, more techniques on giving feedback effectively instead of receiving feedback, and more activities in the workshop. The most significant expectation mismatch was the lack of organised take-home tasks:
“After each session, it would be great to have an informal assignment for using different strategies to give feedback. Then you [the facilitator] can ask us in the next session on how the person [feedback receiver] responded.” (S3)
“[We] must do these assignments outside, not during the workshop, to note down the person’s feelings, to discuss afterwards [so that we] can observe [our improvement].” (S1)
These quotes illustrated that participants value authentic practice outside of the workshop and that it was a major part missing in this training. In fact, this authentic practice was originally planned in the workshop in the form of seeking assignment feedback from course instructors. However, the workshop sessions could not be planned to coincide with the assignment return dates, so this activity did not happen. In hindsight, the activity could be modified to seeking or giving feedback from/to peers.
In addition, participants suggested an alternative workshop mode, which provided insights on effective feedback training from students’ perspective.
“ [The training] needs an appropriate timing, to put it in the practicum, maybe before the practicum, or to run the workshop for a bit longer then there may be more development [for us].” (S5)
This quote signifies that embedding feedback literacy training into the curriculum, in particular before clinical placement, would be a more effective way for students to learn and perhaps actualize the feedback process.
Theme 4 – Changes after the workshop: from perceptions to actions
Despite the expectation mismatches of the workshop, participants anticipated some changes in their feedback practice. They said they would be more critical and contemplate feedback information from different perspectives:
“[I] will think more about the feedback [comment], if it’s a good one, or if it’s clear enough.” (S1)
“[I] will be more critical [about the feedback], I won’t just think about one aspect but I will think about both the positive and negative parts about the feedback.” (S3)
“After this workshop, when I receive feedback I will pause and think for a second, and see if I will consider it as positive or negative.” (S5)
These quotes indicate the anticipated differences in how participants will process feedback after the workshop as compared to before. Arguably, these are only anticipated changes of the participants and the design of this study does not include a follow-up phase on their behavioural change. However, at the end of the focus group discussion, one participant asked the facilitator for feedback on their workshop participation:
“For this workshop, is there any feedback you [facilitator] could give us [participants]? Is there anything we could do better in this workshop?” (S5)
This was a self-initiated and unexpected action from the participant that happened after the workshop. This action may serve to illustrate the increased awareness of the importance of seeking feedback, and that the participant turned this knowledge into action - one of the ultimate goals of the new feedback paradigm.