As author Ken Blanchard once said, feedback is the breakfast of champions. That might be true, but only if you go about responding to it in the right way.
You can expect lecturers to offer you feedback in some form, from every piece of assessed work you hand in. But interpreting their evaluations is a different beast entirely.
The first thing to keep in mind is that bad feedback is a blessing in disguise. Yes, it will hurt – especially if you’ve poured your heart and soul into the work – but if you can look past that, it’s important to know bad feedback forms the building blocks of success.
We all want good feedback, that’s just a fact. But as many people know, the importance of feedback lies in the improvements you can make. So try not to put too much pressure on whether the comments are positive; if they allow you to make changes that will lead to improvements, they are worth it.
So, now you’ve prepared yourself for whatever that sheet might say, it’s time to find out what it is you need to work on. On Blackboard, most of the pieces of work you do will be returned to you with a feedback sheet attached.
Look at the form carefully, and take note of anything you don’t understand or need clarifying. If they have the time, lecturers are usually happy to go through their thinking with you at their earliest convenience. There’s no point in feedback if you don’t understand it.
Next comes applying it to the work you do in the future. While you’ll want to focus on what is ahead of you, it won’t hurt to take a minute to process what was said to you on your last assessment. Is there a particular area you don’t score as highly on? Do you struggle with one topic in a module? The only way you’ll improve is by focusing on these areas.
Concentrating on these areas might mean you designate an hour to making sure you’ve tackled them correctly, or it might mean keeping them in the back of your mind as you are writing your next piece of work.
I try to write down a few specific parts I struggle with, and check them over specifically once my first draft is written. That way, I can ensure that I have spent the time needed to improve my work properly.
And remember, if you don’t understand something that has been said, feel free to ask your lecturer about it. A quick email or chat at the end of a seminar might be able to help you understand where you were going wrong if the feedback sheet isn’t clear enough.
The most important thing to remember throughout this process, though, is that almost nothing you produce is perfect. The point is to make mistakes, and nobody will hold those blunders against you as long as you work to correct yourself.
This article is featured on Learning at Lincoln.
Please note: This content was created prior to Coronavirus, and some things might be different due to current laws and restrictions. Please refer to the University of Lincoln for the latest information.