Getting feedback from others can help you improve your text – and it can be motivating! Ask your study group to do a feedback session, or form your own writer’s group with fellow students.
Feedback is useful because it
- Brings to your attention what is good about your text, and what needs improvement
- Makes you aware of how actual readers perceive your text
- Helps you build on your ideas and thoughts by cooperating with other writers
- Helps you develop literacy and awareness of your own writing tendencies
In other words, giving and receiving feedback makes you a better writer.
Different types of feedback
When you give feedback, you should point out both what you think is good about the text, and what you think should be improved.
- Points out what the writer is doing well, and should continue to do
- Gives praise and points out what works well
- Shows which parts of the text the writer should keep
- Points out aspects of the text that do not work well
- Makes the writer aware of things that are unclear to the reader
- Shows how the text could be improved
Feedback should make the writer see their text from a fresh perspective, and help them identify what they are doing well and what they should change.
Also remember to give feedback according to where in the writing process the writer is, so that your feedback is useful for the writer.
The writer’s responsibility
The writer who is asking for feedback must send their draft to those who are to give it up front and describe what they need feedback on.
The description should say something about the nature of the text and how far along the writer in the process: do they have only notes, a rough draft, or are they close to finishing the text?
The description should also specify what type of feedback they are after. If it is comments on:
- Content, ideas or topics
- Structure and coherence
- Spelling, grammar and punctuation
A clear description makes it easier for those who give feedback to adjust their response to the writer’s needs.
The responsibilities of those who give feedback
For those who are to give feedback, it is important to be well-prepared.
You provide valuable feedback by
- Delivering positive and constructive comments
- Questioning the text
- Suggesting improvements
You share your feedback with the writer either orally, or as a written response.
When you give feedback, you provide the most useful comments by following the text closely. That is to say that you point out exactly what in the text you are commenting on. This way, you avoid general comments like ‘great flow’ or ‘good language,’ which does not necessarily help the writer improve the text.
Instead of generalizing, try asking questions like ‘what do you mean by this?’ and ‘can you broaden the topic?’ or highlight interesting thoughts, phrasings, or contexts, both those who work and those who need improvement.
As the one giving feedback, it is important to remember that you are not going to write the text for the writer. Your job is to help the writer improve the text by making them more conscious of what works and not. When the writer is made aware, it is easier for them to improve their text.