Ratings of performance in multisource feedback: comparing performance theories of residents and nurses

Muhammad Tariq*, Marjan Govaerts, Azam Afzal, Syed Ahsan Ali, Tabassum Zehra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BackgroundMultisource feedback (MSF) is increasingly being used to assess trainee performance, with different assessor groups fulfilling a crucial role in utility of assessment data. However, in health professions education, research on assessor behaviors in MSF is limited. When assessing trainee performance in work settings, assessors use multidimensional conceptualizations of what constitutes effective performance, also called personal performance theories, to distinguish between various behaviors and sub competencies., This may not only explain assessor variability in Multi Source Feedback, but also result in differing acceptance (and use) of assessment data for developmental purposes.The purpose of this study was to explore performance theories of various assessor groups (residents and nurses) when assessing performance of residents.MethodsA constructivist, inductive qualitative research approach and semi-structured interviews following MSF were used to explore performance theories of 14 nurses and 15 residents in the department of internal medicine at Aga Khan University (AKU).Inductive thematic content analysis of interview transcripts was used to identify and compare key dimensions in residents' and nurses' performance theories used in evaluation of resident performance.ResultsSeven major themes, reflecting key dimensions of assessors' performance theories, emerged from the qualitative data, namely; communication skills, patient care, accessibility, teamwork skills, responsibility, medical knowledge and professional attitude. There were considerable overlaps, but also meaningful differences in the performance theories of residents and the nurses, especially with respect to accessibility, teamwork and medical knowledge.ConclusionResidents' and nurses' performance theories for assessing resident performance overlap to some extent, yet also show meaningful differences with respect to the performance dimensions they pay attention to or consider most important. In MSF, different assessor groups may therefore hold different performance theories, depending on their role. Our results further our understanding of assessor source effects in MSF. Implications of our findings are related to implementation of MSF, design of rating scales as well as interpretation and use of MSF data for selection and performance improvement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number355
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2020


  • Multisource feedback
  • 360-degree evaluation
  • Performance theories
  • Residents
  • Nurses
  • Ratings
  • Assessors


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