What to do if You have Poor Feedback on College Work

Last updated on November 27, 2017

Nobody likes to get negative feedback. It is a natural human desire to please other people and receiving poor feedback is an obvious indication that you haven’t achieved that goal. Nevertheless, negative feedback can be a great way of growing, provided that it is dealt with in the right way.

Here are some tips on how to deal with negative feedback on college assignments.

Read carefully

You might feel very strongly that either the feedback was undeserved or that you just don’t want to have to read it because it will make you feel low. However, find a quiet spot, sit down and read it carefully. Bear in mind that the person writing the feedback almost certainly knows what they are talking about and they are not giving you feedback to be deliberately mean.

Sift through the information

Make a note of the negatives in order of importance. There is bound to be something that stands out more than anything else. It may be painful, but think about how you could have done otherwise, had you been aware of the feedback in the first place. Think about why you did what you did – perhaps you are lacking skills in a particular area and can work towards them in the future.

Clarify any misunderstandings

There may well be parts of the feedback that you simply don’t understand; this could be because you don’t understand the feedback giver’s viewpoint, or there is a gap in your knowledge that needs filling. Don’t be afraid to go back to your professor to ask for clarification. It can be hard to ask for what could be more criticism, but you will benefit in the long run.

Ask for a second opinion

You should always take feedback seriously, even if you don’t necessarily agree with everything. However, if, after reflection, you think that you may have been right in the first place, there is no harm in asking someone else for a second opinion. Sometimes academics have their own way of doing things and just because they don’t agree with you doesn’t mean you are completely wrong.

Decide how to move forward

The next step is to make sure that you take the feedback on board and do something about any gaps in your knowledge or skills, so that when you write your next assignment, you can ensure you don’t make the same mistakes again. You may not be perfect the next time, but you will hopefully be moving towards where you want to be. See it as a positive move.

It’s hard to turn something negative into a positive, but with time, you will do. Ultimately, feedback exists to help you grow – without it you would stay in the same place. Don’t dwell on the past; look to the future and better grades.

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