By: 27 July 2016
Innovations in training: real-time feedback to the trainer – Breaking the barriers


In the modern era it is comparatively easy for trainers to provide feedback to their trainees via e-portfolio platforms with varying methods of assessment – from simple procedural observation to more complex case-based discussion. A similar platform permitting trainees to provide simple feedback to their trainers however is lacking. Our aim with this project is therefore to bridge that gap and generate a method via which trainees can feedback to their trainers.

The benefits of such a system would include a body of evidence for the trainer to take to their annual appraisal regarding their teaching skills, engagement and communication with trainees, as well as an opportunity for the trainers to improve their training delivery based on the thoughts and needs of the trainees.

In order to develop a suitable system, we have had to overcome the main barriers to feedback from the perspective of a trainee.  These include ease of access, avoidance of the written word (as trainers may recognise handwriting leaving trainees less likely to provide honest feedback for fear of their trainer knowing who has written what), anonymity and simplicity. We also had to ensure the platform would be able to store feedback provided for trainers securely, and perform a basic analysis to produce a useful summary of results for the trainers when required – for example on an annual basis in accordance with appraisals.

Taking the above into consideration, we have generated a simple six question Google form using yes/no options, Likert scales, and with a single ‘free text’ box for any additional comments via which the trainees can provide anonymous feedback to their trainers. The form is held online, and is accessed via an individualised QR code for the trainer in question.  The trainee simply scans the QR code for the relevant trainer using a smart phone (Figure One), which will then automatically link them to the feedback form via the internet (QR code reader applications are built into most smart phones, but can also be downloaded for free and take up minimal storage). The trainee then inputs their responses via their phone avoiding the need for written word.  Once completed, the form is automatically sent to a centralised Google account accessible only by the administrator with a username and password. At a later point, the trainer can ask the administrator for a summary of their feedback, and the platform performs a simple analysis of results producing an A4 document with graphical representation of their feedback.

Fig One: QR code scanned, and smartphone automatically linked to feedback form.


By utilising this method, we hope to overcome the barriers to trainees providing feedback to their trainers, and provide a useful summary of training skills for a trainer to take to their annual appraisal. The system is currently being trialled within our Anaesthetic Department, and, if successful, will likely be rolled out to other specialities.

Authors:  Dr Fiona Martin, ST4 Anaesthesia, Dr Rod Emmott, Consultant Anaesthetist and Dr Cliff Shelton, NIHR Research Fellow + Anaesthetic Registrar, East Lancashire NHS Trust