Getting the Most from Instructor Feedback and Critique: Tips for Empowering Yourself as an Online Student

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Feedback is a key element to learning. Feedback in the virtual environment may be synchronous or asynchronous. Asynchronous feedback may be shared in writing, audio, video, or a combination of these modes. These tips will help you get the most from instructor feedback!

  1. First, before submitting an assignment, self-critique:
  • Did you address all parts of the assignment?
  • Is your writing clear and compelling?
  • Did you cite your sources correctly following APA 7th edition style guidelines?
  • Is your writing correct in punctuation, grammar, word usage, and organization?
  • Did you demonstrate that you used and understood the materials required for the assignment?

If your answer to all these is not an enthusiastic “yes,” revise the assignment so it is the best you can make it!

  1. Feedback and grading are both part of the learning process. Your instructor teaches through feedback! Your instructor offers guidance on useful resources, suggestions on how to improve your work, pointers on how your learning in one assignment or one course can serve you in other courses, and suggestions on what you can do outside of your coursework to develop skills you will need later.
  2. Feedback is aimed at your work, not at you as a person. Take a rational approach to feedback. As constructive and useful as critique is, it can be difficult to work long hours on a paper or presentation and receive a less than perfect grade and have errors pointed out. If you react emotionally when you receive your grade or feedback, give yourself time to cool down before reacting further. Read the grade and the feedback, then take a break. Come back to the paper and read the feedback again.
  3. Use feedback as a tool for empowerment. The purpose of feedback is to help you achieve excellence. Embrace the opportunity to grow!
  4. Clarify feedback. If feedback is unclear, be sure to ask for clarification so you understand exactly what the instructor had in mind. If at any time you feel you want additional feedback or support from your instructor, ask!

Keep in mind, your instructor is an expert and a human-being. Make an appointment to contact your instructor. When you begin a course, let the instructor know you're looking forward to receiving guidance and the benefits of the instructor’s expertise. You'll find instructors have individual styles of giving feedback. Appreciating and using the critique you receive from your instructor is an important step in your growth. Learn to love feedback! Welcome it! If you don't feel you're getting enough feedback, ask for more!

Don’t forget to pause and enjoy the affirmation and encouragement you get from your instructor! Not all feedback points out problems. Good feedback also tells you what you are doing well and what you have mastered!

Contributed by Faculty at NCU’s School of Education