Get the Most out of Feedback on Your Writing

two students collaborating

Everyone knows that many college assignments are written papers, but in an online learning environment nearly all assignments include writing. Instead of face-to-face discussions, online students write discussion posts. Class assignments, which can’t be presented “live,” instead tend to take the form of blog posts, short answer questions, and written assignments of all lengths. With all the writing you do, you’re bound to receive a variety of feedback on that writing. Feedback is meant to help you grow and develop skills. In order to put feedback to work, however, you have to know how to get the most out of this feedback. Let’s explore some common types of feedback.

Instructor Feedback

Students know that instructor feedback is important because the instructor does the grading. But once a grade is entered, feedback on that assignment is still useful. You should use feedback on graded assignments to see what you should focus on improving in the following assignment. If you have a note from your instructor that the research you used isn’t as scholarly as it should be, for instance, you know that on the next assignment you should make your research a priority. If your instructor points something out about comma usage in one assignment, you can focus on that the next time around. Use the pages on the Writing Center website to help find whatever information you may need.

The Rubric as a Type of Feedback

Instructors may also provide a type of feedback with the instructions of any assignment: the rubric. A rubric states the expectations for an assignment, along with the traits and descriptions of what student work may look like and the grade that work would receive. You can use the rubric to help as you write. If the rubric includes a section that says at least five sources should be integrated, then you know to pay attention to how many sources you collect while researching. Rubrics are an instructor’s tips for how to complete an outstanding assignment.

Writing Center Feedback

The Ashford Writing Center has a 24-hour tutoring service, which allows students to receive paper reviews or live tutoring help. If a student submits a paper for a paper review, the student will receive feedback that includes notes in the margins related to the content, organization, and development of the writing along with APA and grammar tips. All reviews also include an introductory note that can help student writers see what to focus on and where to find more support. Unlike the instructor feedback, Writing Center paper reviews provide notes to apply to the assignment you are currently working on. However, to get the most out of these reviews, take note of at least one topic the tutor mentioned. Make it a priority to learn more about using the Writing Center website pages. Remember improving even one element of your writing from assignment to assignment shows growth. You can also take advantage of the paper review service to ask for help with specific topics. This specificity allows you to help control the feedback you receive.

Friends and Family

Many students find it helpful to have a friend or family member read their writing aloud. While friends and family may not think they are experts in writing or the subject area, they can still give feedback. Friends and family members are unfamiliar readers, which means any typos, awkward phrasing, or minor grammar mistakes will seem more obvious to them. Writers tend to read their own work quickly, because they are familiar with it, and that makes it easy to overlook these types of mistakes. Friends and family, however, can be better at pointing those out. If you are looking for feedback about the clarity of your sentences, these may be the best people to ask.

Overall, any feedback on a written assignment can be helpful. To get the most out of your feedback, see if it can be applied immediately or in the future. Seek out feedback from a variety of sources, and choose something to focus on improving little by little throughout the duration of a course. If you need help navigating writing-related resources, please email the Writing Center: [email protected].



Written by Melissa Sharpe,  Learning Services Writing Center.

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