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Skills for Learning

Building on Feedback

Overview

Whatever your academic level, building on your feedback is vital. Noting and acting on feedback is key to independent learning, continued progress and long-term success.

Begin by revisiting any previous feedback you have received, and reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Then use this guide to learn more about developing specific skills.

To help you get started, you can listen to the understanding your feedback podcast. You can also use the Feedback Action Plan worksheet to help make a plan to address particular feedback points.

If you need further support, you can book a one-to-one appointment to help you develop your academic skills.

Feedback support topics

Demonstrating critical thinking in your assignments is often necessary to get the highest marks. Critical thinking can showcase the depth of your knowledge of a topic, as well as your ability to apply your understanding to specific contexts. In practice it means actively engaging and analysing information, not just repeating it.

You can listen to a critical thinking workshop, or watch a critical thinking video summarising key points. The Skills for Learning critical thinking guide contains worksheets designed to embed critical thinking in your reading, planning and writing.

Top tip: Check your past work for any sections where you could have shown critical thinking more clearly. Plan how you will do so in future.

The Skills for Learning essay writing guide contains advice on all stages of the essay writing process, from research and planning to writing and editing. It also includes a tutorial on constructing an effective academic argument.

Alternatively, you can listen to a workshop on essay writing, and on advanced academic writing, both full of ideas on how to make your writing more effective. There is also a podcast on how to write the perfect assignment, and a blog on excellent essays.

Make a note of key points from your feedback and these resources so you can make sure to cover them in your next essay.

Top tip: The Manchester Academic Phrasebank contains useful phrases for key academic tasks.

Finding the right information supports the rest of your work. To get the highest marks, you will usually need to use good quality academic and professional information sources, not just what you can find with Google.

Your module reading list is always a good place to start, as it will contain recommended reading from your course team. You can also use Leeds Beckett's Discover search tool in MyBeckett to search more widely on your topic.

The finding information workshop outlines the process of effective academic searching. The Skills for Learning finding information guide offers further suggestions. Both are a good source of more advanced options to try in future.

Top tip: Review your Library subject guide to see recommended academic resources for your particular subject.

There are two main components to conducting an effective literature review. 

First, you need to cover the full body of information on your topic. Your Library subject guide and the Skills for Learning finding information guide can assist with this.

Second, you need to write up your findings critically, commenting on differences and similarities between information sources to show the current state of knowledge of your topic. To help with this, you can listen to a literature reviews workshop or follow the Skills for Learning literature reviews guide. Further guidance is also available on being critical in your work.

Top tip: Reflect on the full breadth of information available on your subject. Consider if there are any other places you could check for information.

Check your feedback for any errors you made with maths and statistics in previous assignments. Repeat your calculations and make sure that you understand how to get the correct answer next time.

On the Skills for Learning maths and statistics guide you can access guidance on important topics like understanding data and assessing statistical significance. You can also take short tests, to confirm you understand key mathematical concepts.

If you wish to discuss a specific topic in more detail, you can book a one-to-one appointment.

Top tip: Use the tests to ensure that you fully understand key concepts before your next assignment involving maths and statistics.

You can improve your presentations in the same way as any other academic assignment. Reflect on what did and didn't work previously, check your feedback, and plan what to do differently next time.

On the Skills for Learning presentations guide you can find useful worksheets and tips to guide your actions. You can also listen to a presentations workshop recording.

Alternatively, you could look up 'three minute thesis' on YouTube to find examples of concise presentations on complex academic topics. It can help to watch other people and learn from their good practice.

Top tip: Make a short recording of yourself delivering a presentation. You can then self-assess how to improve your own performance.

 

Improving your proofreading is a simple way to get higher marks.

It can help to proofread your work in a different format or location, for example reading a hard copy of your work in another room instead of just checking it on a computer screen. You can also proofread for flow and strength of argument as well as for spelling and grammar.

The Skills for Learning guide to editing and proofreading contains many useful tools and tips for more effective proofreading. It includes automated grammar checkers and worksheets to help with style and language.

Top tip: Revisit your previous work. Are there any typos, or places where the argument is not as strong? Make a note of any particular points you notice so that you can check for them in future.

The most useful actions you can take to improve your academic referencing are:

  1. Ensure you know why we reference, so you know when to do it.
  2. Confirm which referencing style your course uses: Law uses OSCOLA, Psychology uses APA, and all other Leeds Beckett courses use Harvard referencing, as set out in the Quote, Unquote guide.
  3. Save the link to the guide for your particular course, so that you can refer to it when working.
  4. Make sure that you know what a correct reference looks like for common item types like books, journal articles and websites.
  5. Check you understand feedback on your previous references, so you definitely get them right next time.
  6. Schedule time to check your citations and references before submitting assignments.

Further information and support is available on the referencing section of the Library website. You can also listen to a workshop on Harvard referencing, complete the Academic Integrity tutorial, or book a one-to-one appointment for further assistance.

Top tip: Citations can make your writing stronger by demonstrating that your academic arguments are based on your reading and subject knowledge.

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Reflective writing is a unique style of academic work, combining personal experience with subject knowledge to inform analysis and conclusions. This reflective writing video outlines what is generally involved.

The Skills for Learning reflective writing guide has useful tips and worksheets to help with all aspects of reflective writing, from initial reflections to style and language. You can also listen to a reflective writing workshop for further tips and suggested good practice.

Top tip: A good place to start when reviewing your reflective work is to check that you have definitely related your personal reflections to your wider subject knowledge, to ensure your conclusions are well supported.

Reports are a distinct type of academic writing, presenting information, analysis and recommendations, rather than addressing a question or debate like an essay.

The Skills for Learning report writing guide contains advice on all stages of report writing, including style and common section headings. It also includes exercises and worksheets to help you develop your writing.

You can also listen to a workshop on report writing, full of prompts on how to make your writing more effective.

Top tip: Consider, if you were in a workplace, what would you want to see in a good professional report?

The Skills for Learning guide to revision and exams is full of practical suggestions on how to work more effectively.

Start by reflecting on your past experience of revising and exams, and considering what went well and what went less well. You can then use your reflections, your feedback and the ideas in the guide to make an action plan for more effective work in future.

Your new plan might involve scheduling study time, reading up on a particular topic, or changing how you prepare on the day of an exam. The important thing is to devise practical actions to support your success.

Top tip: You can also read the top ten revision tips of another Leeds Beckett student.

Improving your time management can help you act on your feedback by ensuring you have the chance to work effectively.

The Skills for Learning guide on independent learning and time management has many useful suggestions to help with effective time management. It even includes an assignment calculator to help with long-term scheduling. The managing your time blog also collates key points and tips.

Review the suggestions and resources on the guide. Then reflect on what has worked well for you in the past, and what has worked less well. When you have decided what to do differently in future, set a reminder to check on your progress.

Top tip: Many students find the Pomodoro technique useful for supporting bursts of short-term concentration and activity. 

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It is important to make sure you have fully understood your feedback, so that you can learn from it effectively. Revisiting assignment marking criteria may also help you understand what is required to get the highest marks. 

You can listen to the understanding your feedback podcast, or book a one-to-one appointment to discuss how to develop specific academic skills. A feedback post on the Library blog also explains common themes, and one of our academic staff explains in a video what they hope students gain from feedback. Equally, it can also help to talk to your tutors and lecturers, particularly if you are uncertain about a particular piece of feedback. 

Top tip: Look at any comments you have received on previous work, and consider what you are being directed to do differently. What practical actions can you take to make sure you follow the feedback?

The Skills for Learning website is a good place to check for guidance on all forms of academic writing. In term-time, you can also attend weekly online 'English as an additional language' sessions to ask questions.

The international students guide signposts the way to further helpful information.

You can also book a one-to-one appointment for further assistance with writing in English.

Top tip: The Longman Dictionary is an effective resource for help with specific words, and the Manchester Academic Phrasebank lists useful phrases to help extend your academic English vocabulary.

Academic skills modules

Remember, you can also enrol on academic skills modules to support your learning for particular academic tasks and levels.

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