Received a disappointing grade? Learn how to interpret and translate feedback into better marks next time
Now is a busy time for submitting assignments and receiving feedback on your work.
Sometimes we are thrilled by the marker feedback we get on assignments, and other times it can be upsetting; you might feel a bit confused if you receive suggestions for improvement you weren’t expecting, or that you don’t fully understand.
Remember: understanding feedback is the key to academic success, so think of it as a learning opportunity, not an obstacle. Here are a few tips for making effective use of the feedback you receive while you’re studying, including seeking further advice if you need more help, and using this knowledge to improve your assignment writing. See this Study Support resource on responding to feedback for more tips from students and staff, about using your feedback effectively to improve your assignments.
1. Don’t take feedback too personally!
It’s important not to take feedback as personal criticism. Lecturers mark thousands of assignments, and their end goal is to suggest ways to improve your writing and understanding. Keep an open mind – your teachers want to see you getting the best marks you can.
2. Be clear about what the feedback is focused on
Determine exactly what the marker is commenting on: is it based on the expectations set out in the unit learning outcomes and assignment marking rubric? Or, maybe it’s the structure of your writing or the language you have used? Maybe you need to pay attention to your use of sources, including the way you have referenced them?
If you are unclear about the feedback that you received, make sure you speak to your unit chair, lecturer or tutor to clarify. You can contact them on the discussion forum for your unit or via email. Don’t forget, you can also contact Deakin’s student Writing and Maths Mentors for online study tips, writing and maths advice, and Language and Learning Advisers for language development, general study and assignment advice.
3. Consider how you could change your approach next time
Identify specific areas that you need to address for your next assignment.
- How can I improve my sentence structure?
- Am I showing adequate evidence? Enough analysis?
- Am I making my paper easily understandable for my reader?
- Am I providing too much or too little information?
Keep a record of the comments you receive for various assignments – are there common issues that you need to address in your writing? And don’t forget to note any positive comments made by your marker; it’s useful to know your own strengths and build upon them.
4. Explore the Academic Skills guides for further advice
Better planning for your next assignment will help provide a better result. There’s an Academic Skills guide for almost every aspect of your university assignments, from integrating sources to proofreading to note taking.
Perhaps you need some real-time, personalised support?
Deakin’s Study Support service offers a range of options for you to access support online, from both staff and fellow students, when and where you need it. We can help you gain the skills you need to succeed with academic writing, research and study skills.
At Study Support you can:
- Get study and assignment advice from Language and Learning Advisers via phone or videoconferencing.
- Talk to student Writing and Maths Mentors about study tips, writing and maths advice. They are available in various drop-in sessions online – no appointment required!
- Email Study Support with a short question and you will get a response within 24 hours (on weekdays).
- Use the online platform Smarthinking for 24/7 support. Access real-time tutors from a range of disciplines including science, maths and statistics, nursing and health, business and IT.
- Get help with general writing and study skills in a Smarthinking session. Submit your assignment for written feedback – you’ll receive feedback within 24 hours.
You can learn more and access a range of resources to help you improve your assignments on the Study Support site.