Asking for feedback can be a difficult thing, but it's a very important part of the learning process. If you want to know what you're doing well, or what points you need to improve on, you'll need to be prepared to ask your trainer or teacher for feedback on your work.
While receiving what can be perceived as negative feedback may be quite a difficult thing, it can actually be more useful than receiving positive feedback. It highlights the areas you aren't doing as well in, and therefore lets you know what you need to focus on to improve the quality of your work.
Asking for Feedback
The first step of getting feedback is obviously to ask for it. This is especially important if your trainer doesn't usually provide feedback, or perhaps doesn't provide feedback that is as detailed as you would like. Read any comments your trainer may provide you on your work, but if you feel you need more, don't be afraid to ask.
Your trainer should be willing to provide you with constructive feedback so you get a good understanding on why they have marked your work the way they have.
Make a point of asking for feedback on a specific piece of work as soon as possible, so your work is still fresh in your trainer's mind. If you leave it till even a week or so after, chances are your trainer will have forgotten a lot of the key elements of you work, and won't be able to provide as thorough feedback as they could have earlier.
You might find it easier to schedule in a quick chat with your trainer to ask about feedback, as that way you'll be able to ask them questions on any parts you don't understand or discuss through any points you would like expanded. However, if your trainer doesn't have the time to attend a face-to-face meeting, sending an email can be just as useful. This will mean you then have a psychical copy of the feedback your trainer gives you, so you can look back on it later when you are trying to put their feedback into practise.
The Good Side
If you trainer is providing you with constructive feedback it should contain both "good" and "bad" points. Effective constructive feedback not only shows you what you're good at but also lets you see what you could be better at. Let's first take a look at how to use the good side of your feedback.
It's always nice to hear the things you are good at, but as well as making you feel good, it can also be extremely useful. Trainer feedback may highlight things you didn't even know you were good at, and it's always a good idea to know what your strengths are, as it means you can use them to the best of your ability. Even if your feedback picks up on something you already think you are good it, it's still good to have this reinforced, and to know that you can really works on those skills to become excellent.
Your strength may be a particular part of the work, such as group work or essay writing, or a specific topic you are being taught. This is great if you get to pick how you want to deliver an assessment, or what topic you want to focus on for an essay or a project, as you can pick what you are best at, which will hopefully achieve the best results.
Also if you can focus on something you are already very good at and develop those skills further, you could really build up a specialism in a particular area.
The Bad Side
Getting less encouraging feedback can be a less exciting experience, but don't let that put you off, as this kind of feedback can actually prove more helpful.
It's important to not take negative feedback personally, as your trainer is simply pointing out the things they believe you could work on, and are therefore giving you the chance to improve in the future. Even though it may seem disheartening if it is something you have worked extremely hard on, look at it as a learning experience and not something to get upset over.
When you receive your feedback, it may be a good idea to sit down with it and highlight the parts which are suggesting improvements. If you single these out from the rest of the feedback, it will be really easy to pinpoint the areas you need to work on. You may want to do this by actually taking a highlighter pen to the feedback to mark out specific areas. However, if you feedback is written all over something like an essay, it may be easier to re-write parts of the feedback on separate pieces of paper or sticky notes, so you can really focus on them.
It may also be a good idea to cross reference your most recent feedback with feedback on previous pieces of work, as this will let you see if there is a recurring theme in the areas you are weaker in. Some things may pop up as a one-off, but if you have a persistent problem that your trainer keeps commenting on, it's important that you are aware of this, so you can begin to take steps towards improving it.
If you have further questions for your trainer, try and make the time to follow up with them. If they keep marking you down for the same element, but you're not sure what they mean, it's important to ask them. If you don't seek further clarification, you'll never know exactly what the problem is and will probably never be able to fix it.
Using Your Feedback
Now that you've seen the things you're good at and the things that need improvement, it's important to consider how you can use this knowledge, instead of just moving on the next piece of work without taking them into consideration.
It may be a good idea to draw up a list or chart of your strengths and weaknesses. Having this list on display when you complete further pieces of work will let you think about what you need to work on before you begin. It also keeps it fresh in your mind as you complete the work, so you can always consider how you could improve on a certain point, or how you can really use one of your strengths.
You may also want to look at additional support for areas you are falling down on. Perhaps there are study groups or additional sessions you could attend to really tighten up those areas you are having problems with. You could also ask you trainer if there is any additional material you could study, such a further reading or videos.
It may not seem like much, but just constantly making yourself aware of what you need to work on should mean you are able to improve on your weaker areas.
If may be tempting to read the feedback on a particular piece of work, and then simply move onto the next one, assuming you'll do better this time without really taking the time to think about what you might be doing wrong. Your trainers provide feedback to be helpful, and let you see what you are already doing well, but also what you could be working on that bit more.
Even if you are getting high grades, it's still a good idea to pay attention to all the feedback you are receiving. It's important to aim to produce the best piece of work you can every time, and really using the feedback you get will mean you have a very good chance of doing this.
Pay attention to both sides of the feedback you get, and work on improving both the positive and the negative, and soon you will be able to hand-in the highest quality work you can possibly produce.