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Academic Skills Essentials: Learning from feedback


Have you completed assignments and not received the mark you were hoping for? Do you want to achieve better results in upcoming assessments?

No one enjoys being told they can do better, and sometimes it really hurts, but receiving critical feedback can actually be tremendously beneficial. Feedback is any comment or mark which gives an indication of how your work lines up with what is expected. Feedback can let you know what you’re doing well and help you identify where you can make improvements. Choosing to act on challenging feedback may be the key to unlocking your potential and receiving better marks in your future studies. Here’s what to do:


What are some proven steps for learning from feedback?

1. Look for feedback – Feedback can come from all different sources, all of which can be helpful for improving your future assessments. These include written feedback, verbal feedback, peer feedback, group feedback and even feedback in advance.

2. Learn from feedback – Make sure you understand the feedback you receive. Work through it systematically, discuss it with classmates, tutors or others and seek clarification if you don’t understand a comment. Identify the positive things you should keep doing and the areas in which you can improve.

3. Use your feedback – It’s YOUR feedback, so make it work for you.

- Keep doing anything which has received positive comments.

- Choose to turn negative comments into constructive counsel.

  • If it’s overwhelming, choose to focus on 3 comments that will make the most difference for next time.
  • Develop strategies to make the necessary improvements. You might need to seek help or access relevant online resources to do this.

Remember: You cannot change the grade you’ve got, but you can get value from marks you’ve lost by learning from feedback and developing your skills and knowledge in that area.


To demonstrate the importance of feedback, try to figure out the author of this quote. You probably won’t know for sure, but have a guess. Once you’ve got a name in mind, look below the “Feedback Audit Table” to continue this activity.

Feedback Audit Table:

The table below lists just some of the many beneficial approaches to feedback you can use. Are you making the most of your feedback?

(Adapted from Phil Race’s “Building on feedback”)

Did you guess that Bill Gates is the author of the quote?

Actually, it really doesn’t matter. If you guessed correctly, you will probably remember from now on that Bill Gates, one of the most successful businessmen of all time, considers it super-important to seek feedback from others. If you guessed incorrectly, you’re also likely to remember this in future – you’ve learned something valuable by doing the activity. However, if you didn’t really engage and just looked for the answer straight away, chances are that this information won’t stick. It’s the doing and the learning that’s important.

Remember: Valuable learning can take place when you don’t get something right as long as you’re finding out how to fill the gaps and actively learning from the process.