Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


Search This Site

Journal Club

How to master skills
Structuring feedback and debriefing to achieve mastery learning goals.
Eppich WJ et al. Academic Medicine 2015; 90(11):1501-1508.

Reviewed by Jeanine Ronan

What was the study question?

The objective of this paper was to show that mastery learning could be facilitated through educational interventions that utilize feedback and micro-debriefing strategies.

How was the study done?

Since there is limited literature describing the structure of feedback and debriefing for deliberate practice, two previous studies on teaching ACLS and PALS skills were analyzed to determine the essential elements to mastery learning. From there the authors proposed key elements or lessons that should be included for mastery learning with simulation exercises.

What were the results?

The ACLS study cited resulted in mastery learning in all the residents, although some residents required additional time and the PALS study showed significantly improved performance after the intervention. The key elements in both of these studies included: establishing a supportive learning environment by describing debriefing and its similarities to coaching, acknowledging that honest feedback my be unpleasant at times, setting the expectation that the learners may be interrupted, and emphasizing the importance of peer-to-peer feedback.

What are the implications of these findings? The overall key lessons learned:

  • 1. The educational intervention must include the opportunity to achieve proficiency through repetition.
  • 2. Microdebriefing in which the leader pauses and discusses during the intervention allows for immediate correction.
  • 3. Peer-assisted learning is a very powerful means to give and receive effective feedback.
  • 4. Identify outcome measures that are being assessed prior to the educational intervention.

Being aware of these essential elements may help to design more comprehensive educational interventions focusing on mastery learning.

Editor's note: This article discusses the importance of "setting the stage" with learners before the event and then providing feedback, through microdebriefing and postevent debriefing, during and after the learning encounter (SLB).

Return to Journal Club