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BMC Med Educ. 2013 May 31;13:79. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-13-79.

Senior medical student perceived ability and experience in giving peer feedback in formative long case examinations.

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Sydney Medical School - Central, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



Learning to provide feedback on a peer's performance in formative clinical assessments can be a valuable way of enriching the students' own learning experience. Students are often reluctant to provide honest, critical feedback to their peers. Nevertheless, it is an area of practice that is important to develop as students report feeling ill prepared in feedback techniques when entering the medical workforce. We sought to investigate students' perceptions of their ability to provide feedback to their peers using the positive critique method, and their perceived benefits and challenges during the experience.


Over a two year period (2011 to 2012), senior medical students assessed and gave feedback to their peers alongside academic examiners during formative long case clinical examinations. Rating scales, open ended questions and focus group discussions were used to evaluate student perceptions.


Of the 94 participants, 89/94 (95%) completed the questionnaire, and 39/94 (41%) participated in focus groups. Students found the positive critique method provided a useful framework. Some students raised concerns about the accuracy of their feedback, and felt that further training was required. A substantial number of respondents (42%) did not report feeling confident providing negative feedback to their peers, and qualitative analysis indicated concerns around potential impacts on social relationships. Despite these concerns, the majority (90%) of respondents found the exercise useful, identifying several benefits, including development in the understanding of knowledge content; development of professionalism skills, and increased responsibility.


Students identified several challenging aspects to providing feedback to their peers. While the experience of giving feedback to peers was perceived by students to provide a valuable learning experience, further training in this area may help to improve the learning experience for students and better prepare them for their future careers.

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