Feedback consists of comments about how well you performed a task, or assignment, according to the criteria, and is used as a basis for improvement. 

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources.

Be open to feedback

Try to be open to feedback wherever it comes from. You may be used to thinking of feedback as written comments on an assignment, but feedback can also be in many other forms, such as oral comments, informal suggestions, peer feedback, or group feedback. Being open to feedback in all its forms will help you make the most of it.  

Be objective

Part of being open to feedback is trying not to take it personally. Your markers are marking against a set of criteria, so your feedback isn't intended to be taken personally or be a fixed judgement on your ability; it is meant as a constructive response to how you completed one task. However, when reading through feedback comments without the marker there to explain them, the comments may sound abrupt. It can help to give yourself time before processing the feedback, especially if the mark isn’t what you hoped for. Allow a few days or a week, and then read the comments again more objectively; you may see what your marker was getting at more clearly. 

Understanding feedback

It can help to give yourself some distance from the feedback comments and come back to them once you have had time to reflect. Read through them again and make sure you understand what they mean. Click on the different sections of the guide below to see what your markers mean when they write things like “more explanation needed”:  

Using formative feedback

A formative assessment is designed to give you an opportunity to practice and get feedback. The marks from a formative assignment don’t count towards your overall grade. Often you may not get a specific mark for a formative assignment as they are intended to provide feedback for improvement. This is why it is very important to read the feedback comments carefully to identify areas to improve. Formative feedback helps you develop and prepare for the summative assignments which do count towards your grade.

Formative feedback is a guide, not a guarantee of a good mark. A formative assessment may be a shorter assignment, or a small section of the summative assignment, so it may not give your marker the full picture of your work. Your grade for the final summative assignment can still go up or down.

Therefore, it is helpful to treat your formative feedback as an indication of how you are doing, not just a checklist of things to ‘fix’. For example your formative feedback may say that your use of sources is ‘good’, but this shouldn’t prevent you from developing further by reading even more widely before submitting your summative assignment. 

Using summative feedback

Summative assessment is a form of assessment that counts towards the overall mark for your module. The feedback you receive on your summative assignments is designed to help you improve your academic work generally. It is a good strategy to look for any patterns or common themes in the feedback comments you receive across a number of modules, as this can highlight areas to work on.  

Putting your feedback into practice

Often your feedback identifies what you need to do to improve (e.g. include a wider range of sources) but it doesn't always tell you the steps for how to do this (e.g. plan my time better so I have longer to find different sources). This is why it is important to reflect on your study processes not just the final grade. Watch this short video for more advice on how to put your feedback into practice:

Action plan

Looking at feedback straight away can be emotional and frustrating. Give yourself some time and distance. It can be helpful to make a checklist or plan to help reflect more objectively on what to work on next. See this guide on making a feedback action plan, or use our feedback record to structure your reflections and identify what to improve next time:

Seek advice

If you are unsure about what your feedback means, talk to your Academic Adviser, or see us at the Centre for Academic Development for a one-to-one session: