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Receiving feedback

Sometimes feedback is not received positively by learners, and fear of this can inhibit teachers giving regular face-to-face feedback. People’s responses to criticism, however constructively it is framed, can vary. Learners often discount their ability to take responsibility for their learning, and their responses may present in negative ways, including anger, denial, blaming or rationalisation (King, 1999). When giving feedback, it is helpful to maintain an empathic yet consistent approach with a view to helping the learner take responsibility for development and improvement.

The focus in this module has mainly been about giving effective feedback to learners, but it is also helpful to think in a structured way about how feedback might be received. You can help to prepare learners (and yourself) for receiving feedback by providing opportunities for them to practise the guidelines listed below.

The aim of developing an open dialogue between the person giving feedback and the recipient is so that both parties are relaxed and able to focus on actively listening, engaging with the learning points and messages, and developing these into action points for future development.

Guidelines for receiving constructive feedback

  1.  Listen to it (rather than prepare your response/defence).
  2. Ask for it to be repeated if you did not hear it clearly.
  3. Assume it is constructive until proven otherwise; then consider and use those elements that are constructive.
  4. Pause and think before responding.
  5. Ask for clarification and examples if statements are unclear or unsupported.
  6. Accept it positively (for consideration) rather than dismissively (for self-protection).
  7. Ask for suggestions of ways you might modify or change your behaviour.
  8. Respect and thank the person giving feedback.


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