Feedback:  How we get it and what we do with it.

As part of our Quality Assurance process we  capture feedback from candidates.  Every service provider will carry out this process but sometimes it is merely a box-ticking exercise.  Even when it is done meaningfully, sometimes the process can actually make it less meaningful.

The Traditional Approach

Traditionally Feedback has been sought in one of two ways or a combination of both:

Score Charts

Score Charts ask the customer to rate elements of their experience on a scale between 1-10 or from "poor" to "excellent", for example.  These would provide really robust data in a completely objective, emotionless world but unfortunately for statisticians,  people aren’t like that.

Most people will spread their scores for every element somewhere around 6 and 8; not wanting to appear bitter or offensive by providing anything lower but nothing about the course has truly motivated them to give anything a “10”.  This means that whatever the candidate genuinely thought of the course - good or bad - the impression left is that they thought it was ‘above average’.  This is worthless information.

The other standard response, especially at the end of a long day when they know the course is over and are itching to leave is simply to tick all of the 10s (and maybe a 9, just to make it look like they thought about it).

Quantitative information is often the easiest to capture but not necessarily the most useful, especially when seeking opinions.

As Einstein said “Not everything worth counting can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts”.  And he was really clever.


Questionnaires offer the candidate the opportunity to express their thoughts or opinion through set questions regarding specific areas typically about the instructor, the venue, the booking process etc.  The Questionnaire does not always give much scope for candidates to express what they want to.

The caveat here is to include the "Any other comments" box which is so vague it may as well translate as "We're not really interested so write whatever you want".

While there is more scope for better quality of information in Questionnaire than Score Charts, the candidates' opportunities are limited not just to the topic of each question but also by the question themselves, especially “Yes / No” questions.


A REAL Feedback Process

We use a unique method of quickly and easily capturing rich information from all of our candidates in a process that allows them to offer not just what we want to know about but what they want us to know about.   It is unbound and not limited to any particular aspect of the course.  It can be answered in short phrases or one-word answers.  It can be done individually or in groups and, importantly it is anonymous.

This generates really rich, objective and honest responses (after all, if feedback isn’t honest it is worthless) but as a result it requires much more time and effort to interpret; but the results are worth it.

Example Outcomes

The list below ranks the most important outcomes our candidates have learned from our courses and workshops based on feedback from 2012-17.

  1. The Accident Procedure
  2. A “Common Sense” approach to managing casualties
  3. The reality of CPR
  4. Increased confidence
  5. The use of a Defibrillator
  6. Everything
  7. Understanding the concept of Danger and how to improve personal safety
  8. Assessment and monitoring of the casualty
  9. Importance of airway management
  10. Triage techniques

Some of the outcomes are entirely expected; the Accident Procedure - a universal protocol for treating all casualties in all situations - is the crux of First Aid.  From a basic one-day course through to advanced trauma care, all immediate healthcare systems in the developed world are based on a variation of the hierarchical ABC approach.  The use of an Automated External Defibrillator is a simple process which, quite simply, saves lives when applied promptly.

What is interesting is the outcomes that one would not commonly expect.

  • No one has ever put "how to stop bleeding" on our Feedback.  Most people know how to stop bleeding, regardless or whether they have previously been on a First Aid course before or not.  These are classic prescribed learning outcomes.  How many course syllabi have 'increased confidence' as a learning outcome?
  • No one is interested (or tends to remember) that a normal range of breathing for a healthy adult is 12-20 breaths per minute (or 10-20 depending on which book you are teaching from).  A Common Sense approach allows candidates to effectively assess and appropriately treat casualties with no reliance on numbers or terminology.
  • Every First Aid course includes an element of 'assessment of danger' or 'scene safety'.  We are constantly told to 'be safe' at work and when we are, it is usually patronising or sleep-inducing.  So why is it that our candidates find the rationale really interesting?  It is probably because we don't just tell people to 'be safe'.

Seeking honest and open opinions from our customers is the the most important element of our QA process because it provides evidence of what does and does not work.  It tells us what we are doing well, what we need to more of and what we need to change.

The easiest way to teach a course is to load the PowerPoint and deliver the script.  The easiest way to collect feedback is to hand out the forms.

We don't do things differently because they are easy.  We do things differently because they work.