Effects of longitudinal small-group learning on delivery and receipt of communication skills feedback

Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.
Medical Education (Impact Factor: 3.2). 11/2013; 47(11):1073-1079. DOI: 10.1111/medu.12246
Source: PubMed


Although feedback is a critical component of learning, recent data suggest that learners may discount feedback they receive. The emotional threat inherent in feedback can contribute to its ineffectiveness, particularly for sensitive topics like communication skills. Longitudinal relationships among peers may increase their sense of safety and soften the perceived threat of feedback to allow students to give, receive and potentially more effectively incorporate feedback. We studied the effects of prior shared learning experiences among medical students in the delivery and receipt of feedback on clinical (communication) skills.
During a formative clinical skills examination, we divided Year 3 students at a US medical school into two subgroups comprising, respectively, small-group classmates from a 2-year longitudinal pre-clerkship clinical skills course (with prior peer-learning relationships), and peers with no prior shared small-group coursework. Students in both subgroups observed peers in a simulated clinical case and then provided feedback, which was videotaped, transcribed and coded. Feedback recipients also completed a survey on their perceptions of the feedback.
Students valued the feedback they received and intended to enact it, regardless of whether they had prior peer-learning relationships. Coding of feedback revealed high specificity. Feedback providers who had prior peer-learning relationships with recipients provided more specific corrective feedback on communication skills than those with no such relationships (p = 0.014); there was no significant difference between subgroups in the provision of reinforcing feedback on communication skills.
Year 3 medical student peers can deliver specific feedback on clinical skills; prior peer-learning relationships in pre-clerkship clinical skills courses enrich the provision of specific corrective feedback about communication skills. Feedback between peers with pre-existing peer-learning relationships represents an additional and potentially underutilised method of helping students improve clinical skills in sensitive realms such as interpersonal communication.

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Available from: Calvin L Chou, Sep 17, 2014

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