Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Pharmacy Students' Views of Faculty Feedback on Academic Performance

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Pharmacy Students' Views of Faculty Feedback on Academic Performance

Article excerpt


Feedback has been defined as "information about how successfully something has been or is being done." (1) Within education, feedback is considered important for performance improvement and is widely accepted as a fundamental aspect of teaching and learning in any environment. (1,2) A review of over 250 studies found that feedback had positive effects on learning and achievement. (3) Indeed, learners who receive a response indicating whether or not their work is correct are more likely to maintain interest in the subject being taught. (4)

Some researchers advocate feedback within medical education for developing effective communication skills. (5) Others consider that if feedback is not provided within healthcare disciplines "mistakes go uncorrected, good performance is not reinforced and clinical competence is achieved empirically or not at all." (6) A systematic literature review found that feedback alone had a positive influence on doctor performance in 74% (32) of the included studies. (7) Furthermore, a Cochrane systematic review (n = 118 studies) investigating the effects of audit and feedback on the practice of healthcare professionals and patient outcomes concluded that they can be effective in improving professional practice. The authors cautioned that the effects are generally small to moderate and effectiveness is likely to be greater when baseline adherence to recommended practice is low and when feedback is delivered more intensively. (8) With specific reference to pharmacy, Watson and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial in community pharmacies and found that using simulated patients and giving immediate feedback was an acceptable way of improving the quality of consultations for nonprescription medicines. (9)

Despite its recognized importance, many pharmacy students are not satisfied with the quality and quantity of feedback they receive from their teachers. (10,11) Student dissatisfaction with feedback is a well-documented problem that is not unique to pharmacy. (12,13) In National Student Surveys (NSS), students have consistently rated questions on assessment and feedback lowest of all categories, with Northern Ireland students' ratings significantly lower than those of students in other parts of the United Kingdom. (12) As the NSS results are published to help UK students make an informed choice when deciding where to study, they are held with high regard by universities.

Providing effective feedback to students is a complex process with no single correct approach. Moreover, students may not understand the feedback that is given (14) and if it does not require active engagement by the students, it is less likely to have an impact on their learning. (15)

Effective feedback is constructive, explicit, and nonjudgmental. (16) However, as Sadler pointed out, "... even when teachers provide students with valid and reliable judgments about the quality of their work, improvement does not necessarily follow. Students often show little or no ... development despite regular, accurate feedback." (1) There has been limited research conducted on pharmacy students' opinions on faculty feedback. The students in this study routinely received feedback on their performance in formative aspects of assessment, such as assignments and other coursework, whereas limited feedback was provided on summative aspects, such as examinations. The objectives of this study were to investigate students' views of, expectations for, and satisfaction with feedback on their academic performance in all modules they had completed to date.


A questionnaire was developed based on findings from a review of the literature relating to effective feedback. (6,17-19) Five validated questions regarding assessment and feedback from the NSS (ie, developed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England) also were incorporated. (20) The questionnaire (Appendix 1) consisted of 6 sections covering questions (largely closed, with pre-formulated answers) on the following areas: perception of feedback; usefulness of feedback; examination feedback; overall impression and influence of feedback; type, quality, and timing of feedback; and demographic data (but no identifiable information). …

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