Residents in emergency medicine have reported dissatisfaction with feedback. One strategy to improve feedback is to enhance learners’ feedback literacy—i.e., capabilities as seekers, processors, and users of performance information. To do this, however, the context in which feedback occurs needs to be understood. We investigated how residents typically engage with feedback in an emergency department, along with the potential opportunities to improve feedback engagement in this context. We used this information to develop a program to improve learners’ feedback literacy in context and traced the reported translation to practice.
We conducted a year-long design-based research study informed by agentic feedback principles. Over five cycles in 2019, we interviewed residents and iteratively developed a feedback literacy program. Sixty-six residents participated and data collected included qualitative evaluation surveys (n = 55), educator-written reflections (n = 5), and semistructured interviews with residents (n = 21). Qualitative data were analyzed using framework analysis.
When adopting an agentic stance, residents reported changes to the frequency and tenor of their feedback conversations, rendering the interactions more helpful. Despite reporting overall shifts in their conceptions of feedback, they needed to adjust their feedback engagement depending on changing contextual factors such as workload. These microsocial adjustments suggest their feedback literacy develops through an interdependent process of individual intention for feedback engagement—informed by an agentic stance—and dynamic adjustment in response to the environment.
Resident feedback literacy is profoundly contextualized, so developing feedback literacy in emergency contexts is more nuanced than previously reported. While feedback literacy can be supported through targeted education, our findings raise questions for understanding how emergency medicine environments afford and constrain learner feedback engagement. Our findings also challenge the extent to which this contextual feedback know-how can be “developed” purposefully outside of the everyday work.