Digital Insights and Discovery

A Student Guide to Peer Feedback

The following blog post is part 2 of 2 in a series on peer assessment, it offers general tips on how to give and receive peer feedback effectively. You should read part 1 first to get the most out of this guide. The advice given here is not exhaustive but is a good place to start when coming to grips with peer feedback.    

Providing constructive feedback

Constructive feedback is offering useful comments and suggestions on a piece of work which contributes to a better process and improved performance of the recipient. Constructive feedback should provide encouragement, support, corrective measures, and direction. It should be written using the assessment criteria/rubric as a guide, signposting to the recipient what they did well in terms of fulfilling the assessment criteria and where they need to improve.

Feedback should always be given in a respectful and considerate manner. Remember it is a tool used to build individuals up, not break them down. It should always be a well-reasoned and objective appraisal of a piece of work.

Again, constructive feedback is a skill that is learned over time. Your lecturer will be able to provide you with more comprehensive guidance on how to craft constructive feedback as part of your peer assessment.

The art of receiving feedback

Sometimes receiving feedback can be more challenging than giving it. When you put time and effort into a piece of writing or assessment, it is sometimes difficult to separate ourselves from it. Viewing it as an extension of ourselves, we can misinterpret any subsequent feedback as a personal criticism or attack. Feeling defensive of your work is not necessarily a bad thing. It shows that you care, but also be mindful that it can generate a closed mindset and at times lead to an adversarial response. Though easier said than done, it is in your best interests to avoid an overly defensive stance, as it can make you unreceptive to feedback and therefore opportunities to progress.

Constructive feedback is not meant to be personal, it is given to help you improve your writing and develop.

When receiving feedback:

  • Keep your emotions in check — be cool, rational, and strategic.
  • Process the feedback identify the main areas for improvement, and accept these positively as comments for consideration. If any of the statements made are unclear or unsupported, ask for clarification and examples.
  • Take action — Keep the feedback in mind and revisit it when writing your next piece. The whole purpose of feedback is to help you improve, build upon it, and avoid the same mistakes in the future. It would be a shame to let it go to waste. 

Even the world’s most accomplished writers and experts have areas where they can improve. View this feedback not as an indication of failure but as an opportunity for growth. The same goes for peer assessment, change your mindset — viewing it as an opportunity rather than a hindrance.

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