Feedback and coaching

Adelle Atkinson, Christopher J. Watling, Paul L. P. Brand*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


If used thoughtfully and with intent, feedback and coaching will promote learning and growth as well as personal and professional development in our learners. Feedback is an educational tool as well as a social interaction between learner and supervisor, in the context of a respectful and trusting relationship. It challenges the learner's thinking and supports the learner's growth. Coaching is an educational philosophy dedicated to supporting learners' personal and professional development and growth and supporting them to reach their potential. In clinical education, feedback is most effective when it is explicitly distinguished from summative assessment. Importantly, feedback should be about firsthand observed behaviors (which can be direct or indirect) and not about information which comes from a third party. Learners are more receptive to feedback if it comes from a source that they perceive as credible, and with whom they have developed rapport. The coaching relationship between learner and supervisor should also be built on mutual trust and respect. Coaching can be provided in the moment (feedback on everyday clinical activities that leads to performance improvement, even with short interaction with a supervisor) and over time (a longer term relationship with a supervisor in which there is reflection on the learner's development and co-creation of new learning goals). Feedback and coaching are most valuable when the learner and teacher exhibit a growth mindset. At the organizational level, it is important that both the structures and training are in place to ensure a culture of effective feedback and coaching in the clinical workplace.Conclusions: Having a thoughtful and intentional approach to feedback and coaching with learners, as well as applying evidence-based principles, will not only contribute in a significant way to their developmental progression, but will also provide them with the tools they need to have the best chance of achieving competence throughout their training. What is Known: • Feedback and coaching are key to advancing the developmental progression of trainees as they work towards achieving competence. • Feedback is not a one-way delivery of specific information from supervisor to trainee, but rather a social interaction between two individuals in which trust and respect play a key role. • Provision of effective feedback may be hampered by confusing formative (supporting trainee learning and development) and summative (the judgment that is made about a trainee's level of competence) purposes. What is New: • Approaches to both the provision of feedback/coaching and the assessment of competence must be developed in parallel to ensure success in clinical training programs. • Faculty development is essential to provide clinical teachers with the skills to provide effective feedback and coaching. • Coaching's effectiveness relies on nurturing strong trainee-supervisor relationships, ensuring high-quality feedback, nourishing a growth mindset, and encouraging an institutional culture that embraces feedback and coaching.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-446
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Issue number2
Early online date21-May-2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2022


  • Feedback
  • Coaching
  • Assessment
  • Medical education

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