Dealing with Negative Feedback on College Assignments

With passion comes development; without passion, no development can occur.  However, with that passion comes, at times, a negative view of the assignment or of learning itself if negative feedback is received, therefore becomes a barrier to viewing criticism as a means of developing as a person and as a learner.  Negative feedback should not encourage a negative view but a view of positivity and reflection, involving the student understanding that they can grow and develop with suitable guidance.

Dealing with negative feedback is a reflective and practical process involving an analysis of the feedback to identify the issues and problems that need dealing with, planning actions to solve the problems, and then putting this plan of action into practice.  Therefore, dealing with negative feedback on college assignments is a stepwise process that contains the following elements:



Action planning


Students need to voice their concerns with their tutors if they have issues with any aspect of feedback.  Tutors are there to help, but will not be aware of any problems unless students are able to communicate those problems.  The aim of this stage is to communicate with the tutor the worries that the students have about the negative feedback, and to discuss with the tutor how they can develop themselves as learners before moving onto the next assignment. 

The communication process between student and tutor leads to the process of reflection, where the student analyses their learning approaches, current skills and knowledge to identify aspects of each that needs further development based on the feedback received.  Without this reflection, a student would not be in the best position to develop themselves as learners therefore continuing through their course, and even higher level courses, with the same attitude and approaches therefore have less chances of achieving academic success. 

Negative feedback should produce a series of positive actions leading to positive feedback.   When analysing feedback, it should be categorised in accordance with different assignment aspects: use of the English language, subject matter understanding, specific subject matter skills, general learning skills, and understanding of knowledge application within a given context.  The main outcome of this phase is the development of an action plan, detailing, in table form, the issues and problems that have been identified; how these issues and problems identified can be rectified; which resources are to be used to rectify the issues, and therefore develop themselves as learners; and the timeframe within which each activity aspect shall be completed.

The practice phase is the implementation of the action plan in a manner that encourages a sequential and, therefore, progressive and monitored development of knowledge and skills.  After the action plan has been completed, the student needs to analyse themselves and, if possible, set up test environments to measure the development process as followed in the action plan, and to therefore determine if they have achieved the defined learning development goals. 

This process of knowledge and skills development should be repeated after every negative feedback has been received so that students are continuously developing their knowledge and skills not only to benefit themselves in their current course but also to benefit them when they decide to progress to more advance courses.