PURPOSE: To examine whether frequent written feedback to faculty would improve their teaching in clinical settings. METHOD: Forty-four pediatrics faculty at the Medical College of Wisconsin participated in 1987 and 1988 in a prospective randomized trial of feedback about clinical teaching. During a six-month baseline period all the faculty were rated on ten teaching traits by residents and students using a seven-point Likert scale; evaluation summaries were placed in the teaching folders of the faculty. During a 12-month treatment period, 21 faculty were randomly selected to be given directed feedback every two months in the form of mailed computer-generated summaries that contained the most recent and cumulative mean ratings for the individual faculty member and the department, as well as written comments. Mean ratings were compared within the feedback and control groups and between the two groups by using two-tailed paired t-tests and Student's t-tests, respectively. RESULTS: The faculty receiving feedback showed significantly increased ratings over time for the traits of knowledge (p = .025), demonstrates skill(s) (p = .001), provides feedback to trainee (p = .006), and sets reasonable expectations (p = .03). The faculty receiving feedback had an average increase in ratings across all ten traits that was significantly greater than the average increase of their control-group peers (p < .05). Those in the feedback group who had received mean ratings for overall teaching effectiveness that were below the department mean at baseline showed the greatest improvement by the end of the treatment period (p < .05). CONCLUSION: The provision of written feedback improved the ratings of teaching effectiveness, especially among the faculty who had been rated below average.
(C) 1996 Association of American Medical Colleges