Exploring trainer and trainee emotional talk in narratives about workplace-based feedback processes

A. A. Dennis (Lead / Corresponding author), M. J. Foy, L. V. Monrouxe, C. E. Rees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
245 Downloads (Pure)


Emotion characterises learners' feedback experiences. While the failure-to-fail literature suggests that emotion may be important, little is known about the role of emotion for educators. Secondary analyses were therefore conducted on data exploring 110 trainers' and trainees' feedback experiences. Group and individual narrative interviews were conducted across three UK sites. We analysed 333 narratives for emotional talk using textual analysis: Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count. Furthermore, thematic framework analysis was conducted on the trainer narratives to explore aspects of feedback processes that are emotional. An additional in-depth little 'd' discourse analysis was conducted on selected trainer narratives to enable us to explore the complex relationship between the whats (reported events) and the hows (emotional talk). Trainer narratives did not differ significantly in positive or negative emotional talk from trainee narratives. By exploring the interplay of the whats and the hows, several aspects of feedback processes were identified as potentially emotional for trainers including trainers being concerned about upsetting learners and worried about patient safety. This was illustrated through numerous linguistic devices to establish emotional tone such as metaphoric talk and laughter. These findings suggest that feedback processes can be emotional for trainers. It highlights the need to better understand the 'filter' of emotion for trainers but also to better understand how emotion plays a role in feedback as a complex social process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-93
Number of pages19
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number1
Early online date29 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Journal Article
  • Emotional talk
  • Workplace-based feedback
  • Trainer
  • Trainee
  • Narrative
  • Postgraduate medical education


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