There are potential advantages to engaging medical students in the feedback process, but efforts to do so have yielded mixed results. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a student-focused feedback instructional session in an experimental setting. Medical students were assigned randomly to either the intervention or control groups and then assigned randomly to receive either feedback or compliments. Tests of knowledge, skills, and attitudes were given before and after the intervention. There was a significant gain of knowledge and skill in the group that received instruction. Satisfaction was higher after compliments in the control group but higher after feedback in the instructional group. There was no change in the subject's willingness to seek feedback. A student-focused component should be carefully included as part of an overall effort to improve feedback in surgical education. The role of medical student attitudes about feedback requires further investigation. © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.