two guys sit at a desk in business suits, one hold s anotepade while the other speaks to him

Feedback: why it’s important and how to ask for it

We’re often told the best way to improve on something is to learn from our mistakes. At University, mistakes might translate toward receiving a not-so-great mark on an assessment or misinterpreting the assignment completely. This may lead us to doubt our abilities with ourselves and our studies.

However, learning from our mistakes is a powerful way to grow, and once you realise that mistakes or failures are inevaluable, then the real progress can begin!

Feedback is one of the best ways to regain focus, achieve goals, and is integral toward career development.

Feedback can seem a lot less intimidating when you accept that it differs from criticism. At the beginning of my degree, I would often avoid reading my marker’s comments on assessments in fear of a negative comment or criticism. But I soon realised that the marker’s aim isn’t to upset us, but rather to provide constructive feedback which we can use to improve on our next assessment. The role of valuable feedback is to provide a response to a particular activity, such as what worked and what did not work, and then provide a recommendation such as, “next time try XYZ…”

So how can you ask for feedback?

Work out why you’re asking for feedback

When we seek advice from our unit coordinators, it’s usually because we’re struggling with a particular question or topic which we don’t fully understand. Similarly, when approaching your someone for feedback you will want to have an idea of what you’re doing well and where you want to improve.

Identify who to ask for advice

Receiving feedback from the right person is important. You’ll want to ask someone who oversees a lot of what you do, rather than a manager or colleagues with who you rarely interact, or may be biased. It’s also helpful to hear from a variety of people, so think of a few relevant people who you can ask for feedback. Plan a time to speak with your chosen person and make sure they are aware of the reason for your meeting.

Prepare what you’re going to ask

Be clear on what type of questions you want to ask this person(s) beforehand. This way you’re directing them as well as yourself toward feedback that is aligned with your goals. Be prepared to ask follow-up questions if you don’t quite understand what they’re saying.

Be open to receiving feedback

Feedback is an opportunity to better understand how others perceive you. You don’t have to agree with it, but it’s important to be open to new ideas and opinions. You might just learn something new!

Reflect on the feedback

After you receive feedback, take some time to assess the value of what was said and if it is something that you wish to use or ignore. It’s helpful to write down the feedback so you can refer to it and use it to help set a plan or goal.

As you finish your degree and move into the workplace, asking for feedback from your manager, supervisor, and colleagues shows you are putting extra attention on your performance which can really set you apart from the rest. You got this!

If you’re looking for feedback on your studies perhaps you should get in touch with PASS@UNE.

PASS@UNE is an academic assistance program facilitated by students, which targets traditionally difficult units. If you want to chat with the team you can contact them here.