Learning from feedback

The following guide has been created for you by the Student Learning Advisory Service. For more detailed guidance and to speak to one of our advisers, please book an appointment or join one of our workshops. Alternatively, have a look at our SkillBuilder skills videos.   

What is feedback?

Feedback from tutors consists of invaluable one-to-one advice on what the marker/tutor feel are the:

1. Strengths of the work – what was good about it.

2. Weaknesses of the work - what undermined the effectiveness of the assignment.

3. Areas for improvement – how to improve your performance in the current or next assignment.

Even though feedback can occasionally feel negative, it is a crucial part of learning and should never be ignored. The more you read your advice and think about how you will use the feedback, the more useful and less negative it will seem.

Types of feedback

Generally, there are two types of feedback:

1. Formative feedback - advice on how to improve the current work or future work.

2. Summative feedback - a final mark and comments on how well you have met assessment criteria.

Format of feedback

Feedback from tutors usually take the form of one or a combination of the following:

  • Feedback or assessment sheet
  • Notes written onto a text based assignment
  • Verbal feedback during a critique or a tutorial – which you need to take note of 

All notes and feedback forms should be read very carefully. Make sure you fully understand the feedback you have been given and how to act upon it to improve your performance and assignments.

Common areas of feedback

  • Academic content – evidence of your background reading and research.
  • Critical engagement - demonstration that you have understood, evaluated and made use of ideas to inform your response to the assignment brief.
  • Project management– your ability to manage your time, develop and advance ideas methodically.
  • Communication – your ability to convey ideas clearly.
  • Technical/academic conventions – your adherence to academic or discipline requirements for example: referencing, presentation guidelines, specific subject conventions, word count (in text based assignments).

Typical areas of criticism

  • Inadequate background reading and research.
  • Lack of scholarly evidence to support points and ideas.
  • Lack of critical engagement with underlying issues - descriptive rather than analytical approach, leading to poor idea development.
  • Poor time management leading to inadequate or surface idea development.
  • Lack of clarity.
  • Poor referencing, not adhering to word count, not following guidelines regarding content or format, not following specific discipline protocol.  

Making best use of feedback

  • Draw up a checklist of issues and suggested areas for improvement raised by the tutor/feedback. If you don’t understand any of the comments contact your tutor for clarification. 
  • Prioritise your checklist in order of seriousness, as this will give you an order in which to implement feedback. This checklist will also act as a useful prompt for future assignments.
  • Consider whether better organisation and time management (or improving English language) needs to be addressed to allow you to manage your work in future – take the necessary steps to develop these immediately.

If you are unsure of any part of your feedback ask your tutor/marker. If you need advice on how to address any issue raised in the feedback, book an appointment with the Student Learning Advisory Service (SLAS)

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