General structure of any feedback discussion
Opening the discussion
The feedback provider should be mindful of exactly how the conversation is opened. Again, the young person should have been introduced to the concept prior to completing the questionnaire. The first point for discussion is a thorough explanation of the feedback process. This usually involves the following points:
• approximate duration of the session, for example, thirty minutes
• the feedback provider will be making brief notes throughout
• it will be a two-way discussion where the test taker should be encouraged to respond to the coaches observations as much as possible
• together actions will be set prior to the next discussion.
Psychometric tests are a mystery to younger individuals. Our experience of working with students at secondary level is that many have never heard of them, let alone know why they are used. We therefore take great care to explain that the MTQ48 is a psychometric measure and is used to help individuals understand and develop an aspect of their personality that is important for almost everything they do. Making reference to the norm group tells the young person that their results are being carefully considered against other individuals similar to themselves, and this is an important facet of the test.
The final part in opening the feedback discussion is to ask the young person for initial observations regarding their results. The young person will commonly respond by saying “That's me!” Or “That's not me at all!” You will often find that it's the extreme scores that provoke this response. The challenge is then to ask the individual what caused that response, why do they feel that way?
The discussion needs a plan. When using the MTQ48 we normally examine each of the scales in turn. It is not advisable to simply jump in with an overall summary of the young person's mental toughness. The feedback provider's role is to probe each scale one at a time initially
to decipher to what extent the young person is agreeable or not with that score. For example, with an interpersonal confidence score of nine, the coach, teacher, or advisor might say “This score suggests you feel confident getting your point across in a discussion or debate. Can you give me any examples at school where you've argued your point confidently?” The feedback provider has then described a trait that's illustrative of someone high on the interpersonal confidence scale, but also offered an open-ended question which offers the young person the opportunity to either agree or challenge the result.
One of the most important rules to bear in mind when handling feedback that we've previously made reference to is the language used. Psychometric tests are fallible and therefore their sole purpose is to probe for discussion around particular aspects of personality and abilities. Results are not black and white—they are open for interpretation. A great feedback session will encourage as much interpretation from both individuals as possible. When describing the score on a particular scale, the advisor should be careful to use softer language. Softer language might include phrases like “these results indicate you might have a tendency to.” Here we have been careful not to suggest that the results “say” the young person is like this or like that. We have also used the word “tendency” suggesting the young person leans towards that particular behaviour but does not necessarily always demonstrate it. Describing the scales in the feedback provider's own language also avoids the discussion being a formal process and allows the young person to more easily recognise those behaviours in themselves, if in fact they agree with the score.
After having talked through a score on a scale you should check:
• “To what extent the young person feels this is a reasonable description of their …”
• “Can they provide examples of behaviour which supports the score?”
• “Can they provide evidence which challenges the scores and interpretation?”
This process is repeated throughout the feedback session.
The feedback provider will now have identified any areas that the young person wishes to develop and any areas of particular strength that can be maximised for their development. Using notes gathered during the discussion, the feedback provider together with the young person should spend the final part of the session actioning any development requirements. They should also agree at what time these are to be achieved if they are not ongoing. The table below provides a useful template for using the MTQ48. Obviously, a similar template can be produced for any test.
Scale Action What support will be needed? When will this be achieved?
The extent to
which you believe you control your own destiny
The extent to which you can keep your emotions in
The extent to which you set
goals and promises and the extent to which you are prepared to keep them
The extent to which you see challenge and change as an opportunity or a threat For example, set smaller, more manageable
goals to achieve a bigger one For example, parental support
to make sure that goals are achievable For example, at the end of every week
(Continued). Scale Action What support will be needed? When will this be achieved?
Confidence in abilities
The extent to which you have
the inner belief to deal with setbacks and adversity and do well
The extent to which you are prepared to assert yourself and deal with
verbal challenge from others
If done correctly, the feedback session is a learning experience for both parties. It is an intellectual exploration of a complex issue, leading to an agreed answer and action plan. It is a deeply satisfying experience for both the young person and the individual providing feedback when done with care, openness, flexibility, and planning.