How to Deal with Criticism from your Tutor

A tutor with a positive, constructive attitude towards you and your academic career can be of tremendous influence with respect to your motivation. Proactive criticism from a tutor is not usually problematic, as it demonstrates the right intention and attitude from a tutor, but when criticism is consistently negative and destructive, it can be difficult for you to deal with.

Understanding the role of a tutor may prove beneficial with respect to your understanding of his or her criticism, as well as how you deal with it.

What is a tutor? defines the word tutor as “a person employed to instruct another in some branch or branches of learning, especially a private instructor”, “a teacher of academic rank lower than instructor” or “a teacher without institutional connection who assists students in preparing for examinations”. 

Academic standing, knowledge and counseling ability are factors in the selection of tutors.

Consider the following ways to deal with criticism from your tutor.

Always be open to criticism:

By being open to criticism, you demonstrate that you are teachable. In other words, you have an open mind, not one that is blocked. This does not necessarily mean that you always have to act on every criticism from a tutor, but generally, it is a good idea.

Evaluate the criticism:

When you evaluate the criticism that you receive from a tutor, you may see it in a positive or negative light based upon how you think. How do you understand the criticism that you have received? There may be similar criticisms of your work in the past, present or future.

Do you really understand the criticism you have received and why you have received it? Your perception of the criticism may be accurate or inaccurate. At times, it may be a good idea to ask your tutor to clarify or explain it further.

Do additional research:

If you do additional research, you will gain a better understanding of the criticism by your tutor. Remember that he or she is there to assist you, not to put you down personally. Your tutor’s criticism should help you, not stifle your efforts. If anything, the criticisms by your tutor should encourage you.

Consult your professor, teacher or instructor:

When your tutor appears to be hypercritical, it may be advisable to seek advice from someone else on a higher academic level, rather than your peers.  Your professor, teacher or instructor will be able to intervene on your behalf or help you to develop a better academic relationship with your tutor.

Expand your horizons:

Try to expand your horizons continually, as there is no cap on knowledge. Academically, you may be exceeding the knowledge base of your tutor, but you may also be heading in a direction that is not appropriate for your career choice.

Always treat your tutor with respect regardless of his or her criticism and respond in a positive, constructive manner to suggested transitions. Do not fear or rebel against criticism; instead accept it for what it is. In time, if you maintain the right attitude, you may become a tutor too.