We’ve all been there: You worked hard to finish a project for a class. You read over the project assignment and textbook chapters multiple times to make sure you did everything right; you took great notes during classes on all relevant information; you even printed out a copy at home to proofread your project for typos and spelling errors! Then, the grade comes back: 87%.
That’s a great grade, you think. However, you worked hard. What else could you have possibly done to get a 100%?
Good news: Your instructor has likely already told you.
How, though, do you use this feedback to improve your assignments?
While some instructors may allow you to address this feedback and resubmit the assignment, possibly for a higher grade, our focus is on using the feedback to improve on the next assignment. Since JWU courses are designed to build on prior knowledge, using this feedback to improve your work is key to maintaining good grades and getting the most out of your education. Below are strategies to understand and to use the feedback your instructors give you in ulearn.
Organize Your Feedback
Feedback generally falls into these categories:
Praise: Overall positive, typically explaining why what you’ve done is important and/or impressive.
Major issue: Something important is missing, underdeveloped, or incorrect.
Mixed: Some things are done well, but you could improve somewhat.
As you look over your feedback, divide it into these categories. You might even find comments that contain multiple types of feedback—some praise, for example, and then a major issue. Divide these comments appropriately. For an essay, it might look something like this:
- ‘Great formatting on my first page.’
- ‘Strong conclusion.’
- ‘Creative and effective title.’
- Major Issue
- ‘Thesis is not specific enough.’
- ‘Paragraph organization is confusing.’
- ‘Good connection to the readings, but lacking a page number for my citation’
- ‘Wording on page 3 is weird, but I’ll explain it well later.’
Other assignments might have different, course-specific feedback, such as what formula to use to solve a problem or appropriate terms for hospitality work.
Keeping charts like this and taking the time to sort through your feedback helps you remember, process, and implement said feedback in a revision or on your next assignment.
In order to use your instructor’s feedback, you first must understand it. A few questions and action items to help you process this feedback:
- Are there unfamiliar terms in the feedback? If so, find definitions, which may come from your course materials, a dictionary, or your instructor.
- Do you agree with this feedback? For example, if your essay seemed disorganized to your instructor, do you agree with their suggestions for a new structure? If not, how can you make your choices clearer and more effective to your instructor next time?
- Do you understand how to use this feedback? Imagine doing this assignment over with this feedback in mind; could you turn your instructor’s comments into changes of your work?
The first and best thing to do if you are confused or unsure about your instructor’s feedback is to ask for clarification. You might drop by their office hours, set up a time to meet, or even send an email. Keep your questions short, polite, and focused; asking broad, vague questions might not get you the information you need.
Plan to implement your instructor’s feedback. (This includes their positive feedback! If they liked something enough to tell you so, it’s worth making sure your work is consistent.) Using your chart, turn every section into statements using strong action verbs. For example, the above chart might become:
- Check formatting before submitting
- Focus my thesis
- Organize paragraphs in an easy-to-follow way
- Include page numbers in my in-text citations
- Keep my wording consistent for important phrases
This list should be on hand for the next assignment or revision. You might include it as part of a checklist or make an appointment on your calendar to double-check that you’ve met your goals.