Advances in Health Sciences Education

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 383–401 | Cite as

What attributes guide best practice for effective feedback? A scoping review

  • Christine OssenbergEmail author
  • Amanda Henderson
  • Marion Mitchell


There has been an observed increase in literature concerning feedback within the last decade, with the importance of feedback well documented. Current discourse promotes feedback as an interactive, dialogic process between the learner and the learning partner. While much has been written about effective feedback, less is known about key elements that support dialogic feedback. It is therefore important to investigate what is known about the elements that guide best practice for effective feedback. A scoping review of the extant literature following Arksey and O’Malley’s methodology was conducted. A search of literature published in English identified sixty-one publications eligible for this review. Publications were representative of the international literature from both empirical and non-empirical sources. Feedback elements were extracted from the included publications and categorised into 11 core attributes. The attributes identified feedback as: being a process; criteria-based; requiring multiple forms and sources of data/evidence; needs to be desired by the recipient (i.e. invited and welcomed); timely; responsive to the learner (i.e. tailored to developmental needs/learning preferences of the learner); frequent; future-focussed; reciprocal (i.e. two-way); involves skilful interaction; and is multidimensional (i.e. engages the learner in more than one way). Despite the rhetoric on feedback as a ‘dialogic process’, a gap remains in our understanding around what is required to engage the learner as an equal partner in the feedback process. Further research exploring the impact of specific aspects of the feedback process on practice is required.


Attributes Best practice Effective Feedback Scoping review 



This review was undertaken as part of doctoral studies supported by Metro South Health Study, Education and Research Trust Account post graduate scholarship and a Research Training Program Domestic Fee Offset scholarship provided by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training (administered by Griffith University).

Author Contribution

CO: conceived the paper; gathered, analysed and interpreted the data and prepared the manuscript. AH: contributed to the data analysis and suggested revisions to the manuscript. MM: contributed to the data analysis and suggested revisions to the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

No. Not applicable for a literature review.

Supplementary material

10459_2018_9854_MOESM1_ESM.doc (299 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 299 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Griffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia

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