Making the Most of Feedback

Notice: Feedback is a ‘consequence’ of performance; moreover, what you do with your feedback and how to use it in an effective way, is what makes feedback a good feedback!

One of the best ways to learn is by hearing others’ reflections on our own understandings. And since feedback is simply any kind of response to the work you do you get feedback all the time in many different forms.

  • an academic reacts to a question you raise in class
  • another student disagrees with you about the best book on a specific topic
  • someone praises you for getting to the lab much earlier than them
  • a lecturer explains a theorem that lots of students misapplied in an exam
  • the comment sheet on your essay asks for development of a specific argument
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You’ll notice that many of these instances of feedback occur regularly in your day-to-day studies, and it’s important to recognise that formal feedback on assessment is just one particularly important and focused instance of this more general learning process.

Formalised feedback is a communication you can potentially learn from, just like all the others, but it is like any genuine communication: it requires a response. You wouldn’t expect to learn from a lecture if you didn’t think about its contents. So you will only make the most of feedback by working to turn it into ideas for future action. You can reflect on what the feedback you receive tells you about what you have learned, whether you’ve learned the right things in the right way, and how you could better have gone about this learning.

Top Tips
  • Collect your feedback and read it!
  • When assessing it: Be objective – if you’re upset by the grade or wording, come back to it later when you’re less emotional
  • Take feedback records: Adopt a strategy for recording and storing your feedback – it’s useful to compare across modules
  • Follow up on your feedback if you need to – it doesn’t have to be an end point!
  • Help each other assessing feedback: Swap and discuss feedback with your peers
  • Stay positive: Pay attention to positives as well as negatives.
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