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Delivery and use of individualised feedback in large class medical teaching

Steven A Burr1*, Elizabeth Brodier2 and Simon Wilkinson3

Author Affiliations

1 Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine & Dentistry, Portland Square, Drake Circus, Plymouth, Devon PL4 8AA, UK

2 School of Biomedical Sciences, Medical School, Queen’s Medical Centre, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK

3 Information Services Research and Learning Resources Division, King’s Meadow Campus, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG7 2NR, UK

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BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:63  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-63

Published: 3 May 2013



Formative feedback that encourages self-directed learning in large class medical teaching is difficult to deliver. This study describes a new method, blueprinted feedback, and explores learner’s responses to assess its appropriate use within medical science teaching.


Mapping summative assessment items to their relevant learning objectives creates a blueprint which can be used on completion of the assessment to automatically create a list of objectives ranked by the attainment of the individual student. Two surveys targeted medical students in years 1, 2 and 3. The behaviour-based survey was released online several times, with 215 and 22 responses from year 2, and 187, 180 and 21 responses from year 3. The attitude-based survey was interviewer-administered and released once, with 22 responses from year 2 and 3, and 20 responses from year 1.


88-96% of learners viewed the blueprinted feedback report, whilst 39% used the learning objectives to guide further learning. Females were significantly more likely to revisit learning objectives than males (p = 0.012). The most common reason for not continuing learning was a ‘hurdle mentality’ of focusing learning elsewhere once a module had been assessed.


Blueprinted feedback contains the key characteristics required for effective feedback so that with further education and support concerning its use, it could become a highly useful tool for the individual and teacher.

Feedback; Objective; Assessment; Blueprint