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How-to: Understand and Use Feedback

The phrase "constructive criticism" can get thrown around a lot, and some of us view criticism as a bad word. However, constructive criticism can have a positive impact on your work!

What is constructive criticism?

Constructive criticism is feedback that is given with the aim of improving and developing your assignment. It’s specific feedback using examples from your work to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses in assignments or projects.

Coping with Constructive Criticism

It can be hard to hear or read negative comments about your work; we can become emotional and even defensive. Those feelings are normal. It’s important to remember that those comments don’t come from a bad place, they’re there to help you improve and reflect on your work. When you receive constructive criticism you can do the following:
  • Take a breath and step away from the feedback for a couple of hours or even a few days.

  • Organize the feedback. For example; you can organize it according to the most common comments, or the areas you think you need to work on first.

  • Get clarification on any feedback you don’t understand.

  • Re-read your assignment with the feedback in mind.

  • Focus on the positive comments too. It can be easy to focus on the negative comments, but pay attention to what your strengths are as you can bring these into future assignments.

  • Create a plan and circle back to those comments in future assignments to see if you’ve improved.

It’s a good idea after receiving some constructive criticism to take a step back and come back to the assignment after a break with a fresh perspective.

Remember the positives! Not all the feedback you receive is negative. Sometimes we focus too much on the negative things, but remembering the positive things said about your work keeps it all in perspective.

Giving Constructive Criticism

Sometimes you might be asked to give constructive criticism. Whenever you're giving feedback you should:

Remember to identify at least one strength for every time you identify a weakness in someone else's work. Considering the other person's feelings is important, you wouldn't want to hear only negative things about your work either!

"This is bad," isn't good feedback. You need to state why an area needs improvement, and what they can do to improve it.

Be objective, not subjective. It doesn't matter if you don't like or agree with a point someone is making. If they have argued their point in a well-informed manner relevant to the topic then say so.

In the end

While it might be difficult to hear that some parts of your assignments need improvement, constructive criticism is mean to make you think about your assignment and reflect on what you've done.