As a student, you’re going to get a lot of feedback, and it can be daunting for a young person or a learner who isn’t particularly confident. Praise can be downplayed in favour of dwelling on the criticism (which is in itself always intended to be constructive).
Feedback is there to help you turn weaknesses into strengths. It is a crucial aspect of improving your writing and critical thinking skills, so ignore it at your peril. But just how can you get the most out of it to help get the best out of you?
The first step in utilizing your feedback is to just read it. It may sound silly, but so many students focus on the marks or the grade. Understand where you went wrong—and where you did well! At first, the critical comments may be hard to take, and that is a completely understandable and normal reaction. Remember, it’s not personal. It’s there to help.
If there is any feedback that you do not understand or that is unclear, do not hesitate to ask for clarification. Asking helps to ensure that you fully understand the feedback and can apply it effectively to implement in the future. Not only that but your teachers and tutors will notice the engagement and use it to push you even further.
As you read through your feedback, start to identify patterns or recurring themes. Is your grammar letting you down? Is structure a consistent problem? Are your arguments not digging deep enough? Once you have identified those patterns, you can work to iron out the flaws. This could include setting specific goals for future assignments, revising specific sections of your writing, or practicing certain critical thinking skills. Of course, practice makes perfect.
Regularly reflecting on your progress is an important part of using feedback to improve your writing and critical thinking skills. Take the time to assess your progress towards your goals and adjust as necessary. Ask yourself: is this strategy to improve working? If not, maybe think of a different approach. If it is working, how can you take it even further? No matter how far you have come, there’s always more you can do.
If you are struggling to implement the feedback you have received, seek additional support from your teacher. They may be able to provide you with further guidance or resources to help you improve your writing and critical thinking skills.
Your peers can be a valuable resource, too. Sharing what works and doesn’t with those around you can be a great way to find solutions together. And sometimes, it can just be enough to know you’re not alone.
By reading advice carefully, identifying patterns, practicing, reflecting on your progress, and seeking additional support, you can effectively use feedback to improve your skills. You won’t see results overnight, but if you’re consistent, in time you’ll be producing quality critical writing.