Not all feedback comes on a piece of paper with the word “Feedback” at the top – it is important to recognise different types of feedback and learn from them. Feedback takes many forms:

  • An essay or problem sheet is returned to you with comments
  • Your lecturer or tutor provides verbal feedback during practical classes or laboratory sessions
  • Peer assessment where another student marks your work
  • Peer assessment in groups
  • A lecturer or tutor gives verbal feedback during a one-to-one session
  • A lecturer discusses common problems encountered by many students

As you might have noticed, these different types of feedback fall into two broad categories, written and oral:

Written and oral feedback

Written feedback

Written feedback is the most obvious form of feedback you will receive, and it may come from a variety of sources. To benefit from your feedback you should:

  • Find and collect your marked work as soon as possible – there could be valuable tips for your next piece of work
  • Read any comments carefully – it’s not just about the mark you get, if there’s anything you don’t understand, make a note and ask the marker for more information
  • Do not be too disappointed if you receive a grade lower than you expected, reflect upon your feedback and think about how to improve

Oral feedback

Oral feedback can be just as important as written feedback. There are a few things you can do to get the most out of oral feedback opportunities:

  • Participate - While it may seem intimidating at first, asking questions in lectures or contributing in seminar sessions is a great way to get feedback on specific points
  • Be proactive - Make appointments to see your tutor and ask questions, some tutors will ask you to do this, others will leave it up to you – either way they are a valuable source of feedback
  • Take notes - When you see an opportunity for oral feedback, don’t just listen and then forget it, make notes and reflect on what you’ve heard – how can you use this feedback?
  • Use other people’s feedback - Other students will also ask questions and contribute during seminars, the discussions they generate may also be useful to you – don’t switch off when someone else asks a question

Peer to peer feedback

You may not be used to peers judging your work, but their feedback can be a very useful way to improve your understanding of a certain area. This can happen in a number of different ways:

Peer assessment in a group

As part of a group, you may need to critique or comment on the work that another member is doing. This is necessary in order to improve the quality of the group's work, but it is important that you do this in a sensitive and constructive manner. Group members should listen to alternative points of view, and be open to suggestions about how something could be done differently. A group is not a collection of competing individuals, and shutting down or intimidating other group members will be detrimental to the entire group.

Some group members may be quieter than others, but may have important contributions to make. It is up to all members to nurture an environment in which everyone feels able to contribute.

Formal peer assessment

You may be asked to judge the performance of your peers more formally. This needs to be done as objectively and responsibly as possible. Usually you will be given some form of mark sheet to guide you on what qualities you are looking for and how you might judge these. You may even be called upon to help construct this mark sheet yourselves.