4. Feedback forward
It is your tutor’s responsibility to give you feedback on your work, but it can only help you if you take it on board and use it! This means making it feed-forward into your future work.
If you have written feedback, the first thing to do is to read the comments and read back through your piece of work so you can see how the comments relate to what you have written. If you have verbal feedback (for example as part of a discussion) then make sure that you take notes, otherwise you will forget what was said and you will have missed the opportunity to improve.
As you review the feedback, separate the comments out into those that relate to factual details for example a concept that you have not understood, and which relates specifically to the content of the particular module. These are useful for revision of the topic for the exams.
The other type of comments will be more generic and will relate to the skills of producing the work, for example constructing arguments, writing in paragraphs, labelling diagrams appropriately or referencing the work of others correctly. These are all comments that will be useful for helping you improve the next time you do a similar assignment. Just because a particular module has finished it does not mean that this type of feedback is not useful for the next one. Think about how the feedback relates back to the assessment criteria – do you understand why you got the comments you did? If not, then ask the person who gave you the feedback for further clarification.
It is really helpful to keep a record of all the generic feedback you receive and refer back to it when you prepare your assignments. That way you can make sure that you are improving the quality of your work.
Try an experiment: next time you get a piece of work back, look first at the comments on your work before you look at your mark. It is actually much more useful than the mark – after all a number can’t tell you what you need to do better next time. You may find that by doing this exercise of reading the feedback first, you can start to (roughly) predict your mark from reading the comments. This can help you in becoming your own best critic, gaining a real understanding of what makes a good piece of work.
Can you address any of the issues that came up? For example, if you were criticised on your referencing style, try using the study guide on referencing and bibliographies (for a full list of our self access resources, take a look here. If the structure of your essay needed improvement, could you attend a relevant workshop? The full list of our upcoming workshops can be accessed here.
It is important not to take negative or critical comments too personally. They are actually very useful to you! Although it is human nature to respond emotionally to criticism, don’t let this get in the way of using the feedback to help you do better. We all need negative as well as positive comments to guide us to improve.
Remember to also inspect the positive feedback that you receive. By identifying what you did well, you can make sure you repeat this in future assignments.
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