Monday, 7 January 2013

The Feedback Revolution

My upcoming exam results reminded me that I had intended to write this article, so here it is.

The day after my exams I received an email entitled 'URGENT: final deadline for outstanding forms today' and in my hungover state thought that I had forgotten something really important. Upon fishing my laptop out from under last nights clothes and getting to the medical school website I discovered that this urgent form which was important enough to get me out of bed on a hangover day was I'm fact a fifty question feedback form. I duly shut my laptop down and let the room get back to spinning around me. So if my medical school are reading this then sorry I didn't fill the form in, but I would have spoiled the results of the five people who were conscientious enough to fill the form in by putting zero for everything.  

This is the problem with medical school, you can't escape feedback, everyone supposedly wants to know how they have done. I would guess that the majority of people who are asking for this feedback are not so concerned about how their seminar was but just want to show the boss how many 5/5's or 10/10's they got. They have no interest in what we say, they aren't going to change the session if our feedback is negative, the medical school already dictates what session they have to deliver and how they are going to deliver it. If you want feedback take a minute to look up from your lecture notes and count how many people are asleep, you will get a much better estimate of how your lecture is going. 

Now, I'm not a feedback Luddite, I'd like to know how I'm progressing through my medical career, but the medical school just doesn't seem to reciprocate. Yes they tell me how my exams went and even going as far as telling me which questions I did badly on, but it is weeks after I did my exam and I can't remember which question which question is which. Until the medical school emails me with a fifty question feedback sheet telling me which subjects I need to improve on twenty four hours after my exam, I will not be filling out their prolonged feedback forms.

I've been a bit hard on the medical school so far, it would be too much to ask to get them to fill out individual feedback forms for hundreds of students. However, over the last three weeks I've filled in fifteen feedback forms, or one for every weekday. I'm sorry, I am supposed to be studying medicine aren't I?

How will the medical school know when a lecture is rubbish? They will get an email from me, because let's face it they never read the feedback forms anyway. With an email I can voice my opinion and when I get a reply I know at least one person has read it. Then if they have any questions I can happily answer them, or better still they can get in touch with me and help with the problem I had. 

And this isn't just a medical school phenomenon, everyone wants to know how they've done from call centres to coffee shops. If I have a problem you'll know about it long before you ask me to fill in a feedback form, as the student loans company discovered when they were two months late with my money last year. So what will I do when I'm next asked for feedback? I'll probably write something sarcastic about not wanting to fill in feedback forms but it probably won't get the message across. 

What has your experience been of feedback? Whether it be feedback (results) you've got from exams or if you've been on the receiving end of feedback I'd love to hear from you. 

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