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Concurrent versus terminal feedback: The effect of feedback delivery on lumbar puncture skills in simulation training

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-03-18, 00:20 authored by Anna Liu, Melissa Duffy, Sandy Tse, Marc Zucker, Hugh McMillan, Patrick Weldon, Julie Quet, Michelle Long

Simulation-based medical education (SBME) is widely used to teach bedside procedural skills. Feedback is crucial to SBME but research on optimal timing to support novice learners’ skill development has produced conflicting results.

We randomly assigned 32 novice medical students to receive feedback either during (concurrent) or after (terminal) trialing lumbar puncture (LP). Participants completed pre- and post-acquisition tests, as well as retention and transfer tests, graded on a LP checklist by two blinded expert raters. Cognitive load and anxiety were also assessed, as well as learners’ perceptions of feedback.

Participants who received concurrent feedback demonstrated significantly higher LP checklist scores (M = 91.54, SE = 1.90) after controlling for baseline levels, than those who received terminal feedback (M = 85.64, SE = 1.90), collapsed across post, retention, and transfer tests. There was no difference in cognitive load and anxiety between groups. In open-ended responses, participants who received concurrent feedback more often expressed satisfaction with their learning experience compared to those who received terminal feedback.

Concurrent may be superior to terminal feedback when teaching novice learners complex procedures and has the potential to improve learning if incorporated into SBME and clinical teaching. Further research is needed to elucidate underlying cognitive processes to explain this finding.


This work was supported by Ontario Medical Students Association Medical Student Education Research Grant.