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Assessment and feedback

Study Advice guide on how to approach, interpret, and use feedback on your assessments, as well as how to be constructive in your feedback to others.


Everyone will tell you it is important to engage with feedback. But are there factors preventing us from doing that? And what can we do to overcome such barriers?

Emotional barriers

Have you ever felt defensive after a negative comment? Have you ever put off looking at your feedback due to fear of criticism? Have you ever responded angrily to an imaginary reviewer? If so, you are not alone. We tend to identify with the work we produce, so it is difficult to avoid taking criticism personally.  

However, these negative emotions can become barriers to useful advice! It is, therefore, important to recognise and address them. 

Top tips for embracing feedback: 

  1. Take a moment; accept the emotions and revisit your feedback when ready. 
  2. We all need to make the key distinction between ourselves as a person and our work (which may reflect some of our qualities but is a finite piece produced under specific conditions and constraints). Remind yourself that the feedback relates to the work and is not personal. (Did you know that in many cases marking is done anonymously?) 
  3. A trick to use is to translate negative comments into positive feedforward advice. Try to reverse comments starting a phrase with ‘to improve...’ 
    For example:  
    • Negative: this work over-relied on two textbooks and does not consider the most recent research on the subject 
    • Turned into positive: to improve, this work can use a wider range of timely scholarly literature 
  4. Try to adopt a growth mindset.
    As the term reveals, a growth mindset focuses on ways to move forward and develop. According to its premise:  
    • No work is perfect and there is always room for improvement 
    • There is value in the process of making, not just the product 
    • Abilities can be developed and are not fixed nor pre-determined 
    • Assignments are opportunities to learn and develop ability, not demonstrate pre-existing knowledge and abilities 
    • Even failure can be an opportunity for development 
  5. From such a point of view, feedback is a tool that you can use along your growth process, not an end goal in itself!


Check also this blog post from the Life Tools series for more strategies on engaging with feedback:

And this Study Advice video talks about defeating the feedback monster:

If you are unable to view this video on YouTube it is also available on YuJa - view the Making the most of your feedback video on YuJa (University username and password required)


Sometimes, there may be practical barriers to engaging with feedback linked to accessing and keeping track of it.  

As feedback may come in different formats, a key thing to make sure is that you know to anticipate the method of feedback communication for each assessment. If in doubt, ask your module convenor! 

Check out the resources below on how to access your feedback online (including how to download your marked submissions):  

Beyond the online written feedback, what other types of feedback have you received? Anything in audio format, or shared verbally during class or in a meeting? Did you keep notes of it? 

TOP TIP: Organise and keep your feedback in one place! 
Build your feedback archive. You can also start your own feedback summary log. 

Keeping track of your feedback will allow you to return to it with fresh eyes and look at it in a holistic way as you reflect on your learning.