Criteria of good practice may not always be made explicit in feedback. But they will be implicit and you will probably find it easy to identify them. Here is a piece of feedback from a tutor about improving a student’s draft critical review of several articles reporting research.
In this section you have dwelt mostly on the limitations of the work you reviewed, but what about the positive side? Your critical evaluation seems a little unbalanced. How far - despite the limitations that you correctly identify - do the authors offer ideas that are worth taking seriously? Perhaps they do have some backing, however modest, from their own research, or the claims are consistent with what other researchers have found in other contexts.
This piece of feedback contains both an indication of what the student has done well and an indication of how the work could be improved. The tutor has left the criteria of good practice implicit, but has also given clues as to what these criteria are.
Can you spot the clues and then work out what the criteria of good practice are in this piece of feedback? (Our ideas about the clues and criteria of good practice are given below.)
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We can see two criteria of good practice. A clue to one of them lies in the tutor’s statement that the student has:
…dwelt mostly on the limitations of the work you reviewed, but what about the positive side? Your critical evaluation seems a little unbalanced.
The tutor is implying that the review could be improved if it were more balanced - not only looking at the limitations of the research reviewed but also looking for positive messages that the research might offer. Implicit is this criterion of good practice:
A clue to the other criterion of good practice lies in the tutor’s acknowledgement that the student has correctly identified limitations, embedded in the sentence:
How far - despite the limitations that you correctly identify - do the authors offer ideas that are worth taking seriously?
The tutor is implying that the student has done well to identify these limitations. Implicit is this criterion of good practice:
If you have already received some feedback from your tutor or supervisor on your written work, we suggest you have another look at it now. See if you can: