Students’ Perceptions of Clinical Instructor Feedback Based on Discussion Board Responses: What Can We Learn?


To determine: 1) common themes related to feedback given by clinical instructors; 2) how the feedback was perceived by PT students; and 3) factors that influenced the perception of feedback during long-term clinical rotations, as reflected in their discussion board postings.


Subjects: DPT students who graduated in 2013 (n=18), 2014 (n=26), and 2015 (n = 28) who had completed 10 weeks of clinical education prior to this rotation. Procedures: Qualitative analysis was used to analyze individual discussion board responses to the following question: “Share how you are feeling about the feedback you are receiving from your CI. List some positive aspects of the feedback, as well as sharing frustrations about your feedback.” Data Analysis: QDA Miner 4.0, a qualitative software program, was used to analyze individual discussion board responses. Each response was entered into the program individually. Keywords were identified by the researchers and entered for each theme. The program's keyword retrieval function was used to highlight each code within the responses. Each highlighted item was manually coded with the correct theme. Program analysis revealed frequency and percentage of coded responses.


The results were compiled from 72 individual responses from students in various clinical settings including: acute, neuro, outpatient orthopedics and women’s health. Four major themes were identified. Forty-five percent of the student responses referenced the style/type of feedback given, while 25% where viewed as affirming by the students. Nineteen percent of responses focused on the timing of the feedback, while the remaining 11% referenced the amount of feedback received during their clinical rotations. Twenty-nine percent of students viewed feedback given in the presence of patients positively, while 10% viewed it as negative or patronizing. Immediate feedback was viewed as positive in 36% of the responses while 4% of it was viewed as negative. Feedback that was delayed until the end of a treatment session was perceived as positive 13% of the time while 8% felt that it was untimely and perceived as negative.

Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Through the Looking Glass: Transforming Physical Therapy Education

Physical therapy students’ perception of feedback is influenced by many factors and aligns with finding by Nottingham and Henning 2014 who reported similar finding regarding feedback with athletic training students. This research supports the findings that perception of feedback is influenced by the students’ needs, student and clinical instructor personalities, type of setting and patient workload.
Feedback is used in clinical education as a tool to help students learn and gain confidence as clinicians. Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem with how it is perceived. There appears to be a need for a formal and structured discussion about student needs/expectations and personalities between students and clinical instructors in order to alleviate these problems and maximize the student clinical experience.


1. Nottingham S, Henning J. Feedback in clinical education, Part I: Characteristics of feedback provided by approved clinical instructors. J Athl Train. 2014;49(1):49-57.
2. Nottingham S, Henning J. Feedback in clinical education, Part II: Approved clinical instructor and student perceptions of and influences on feedback. J Athl Train. 2014;49(1):58-67.
3. Van De Ridder J, Stokking K, McGaghie W, Ten Cate O. What is feedback in clinical education? Med Educ. 2008;42(2):189-197.
4. Greenfield B, Bridges P, Phillips T, et al. Reflective narratives by physical therapist students on their early clincial experiences: a deductive and inductive approach. J Phys Ther Educ. 2015;29(2):21-31.
5. Leeuw, Slootweg, Heineman, Lombarts. Explaining how faculty members act upon residents' feedback to improve their teaching performance. Med Educ. 2013;47:1089-1098.

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  • Control #: 2747605
  • Type: Posters
  • Event/Year: ELC2017
  • Authors: Dr. Mary Lou Garrett, Dr. Janelle O'Connell, Robert Ramos, Taylor Lunsford, Amber Shook, Celeste Burkett
  • Keywords:

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