Using feedback effectively is a crucial aspect of any degree programme. This short post will provide some guidance on what the role of feedback is, and tips on how to use it effectively.

What is feedback

Feedback comes in a variety of forms. It can be both formal and informal, and come from tutors, peers, friends and family. It can be received through Turnitin from your tutor, verbally in class from peers, and through e-mails and social media from friends and family, for example.

Take a moment: consider the ways in which you have received feedback on your academic assignments. Which have you found most helpful, and why?

The function of feedback is to help you better understand the strengths and areas to work on in your assignments. Ideally, feedback from tutors will be aligned with assessment criteria, using terminology that echoes the grading rubric. This helps the tutor highlight how you are meeting, or not meeting, particular criteria.

Like pretty much any skill in life, academic assignments, be they written, spoken, or practicals, are subject to a process of continual improvement, self-discovery, and the development of good habits. No one is born with the ability to undertake assignments perfectly from the get-go! By engaging with your feedback, you can turn each assignment into a chance to develop your skills.

When students think of feedback, it often has negative connotations, such as what you need to improve upon. However, high quality feedback will often also let you know what you’re doing well.

How to use feedback

When receiving formal feedback, students will invariably gravitate straight towards the grade or mark first. Unfortunately many of us stop there, and don’t go on to read the tutor’s comments. These comments, in Turnitin, at least, will appear throughout your assignment, as well as in a column on the side, providing an overview, as well as how you’ve met each aspect of the rubric.

Feedback can carry a heavy emotional impact, especially if you haven’t received the grade that you were hoping for. But when you skip the comments, you’re wasting some really useful, personalised tips that you could be taking into your next assignment. It often helps to put the assignment feedback aside for a day or two to detach. Then, go through the feedback – both in-text and the overview comments – and see whether or not you understand and agree with your tutor’s comments. If you aren’t clear with any aspect of your feedback, don’t be afraid to contact your tutor. You’ll only be able to improve your practice if you understand what you’re being recommended to do. By all means, having met your tutor, or, if you’d like a second opinion before meeting with them, make an appointment to see one of the Skills team in a one-to-one, thirty minute slot. During such an appointment, one of the team will be able to go through your assignment, the feedback, as well as assessment criteria, and offer you guidance on how to improve your practice.

For further guidance on how to use feedback, please refer to our pages on the Skills@Library site: