Professors know the importance of feedback and we organize our professional events around getting it - that's why we go to academic conferences! Undergraduates, on the other hand, often do not realize the importance of feedback. It might sound like something that you only get from your professors after you make a bad grade. But actually feedback can come from multiple sources at a variety of points throughout an assignment or project, and it can make your work so much better.
Here are the rules of feedback:
1. Get feedback early, and often. Don't want until after you turn in an assignment to find out if you are doing it right. For instance, if you are writing a paper and you aren't sure about the prompt, ask for clarification from the professor right away. Consider getting feedback on your ideas: "I wanted to write a paper on xyz topic, do you think that would work for this assignment?"
2. Get feedback from multiple sources. Feedback doesn't only come from your professor. It can also come from friends or your university writing center. Swapping papers with a friend is a great, reciprocal way to get another set of eyes on your assignment. Additionally, you can (and should) visit your university writing center where you can get feedback on your paper or assignment at any stage. At most universities, you are allowed to use the writing center for free every single week. Your fees pay for this, so use it!
3. Take feedback the way it is meant. It can feel like a personal attack to hear what you did wrong or what needs to be improved in an assignment. But constructive feedback isn't meant to hurt your feelings, it's meant to help you. You are in college to learn, right? So take advantage of these opportunities as ways to do what you came here for. Feedback is GOOD.
4. If / when you get feedback that is hurtful, BURN IT. Sorry, kidding. The best thing to do is sift through it and figure out what is useful, then throw away the rest. If you do get feedback that is hurtful, you can ask a friend to help "translate" it with you - how can you rephrase that feedback in a way that is useful, but not hurtful? For instance, "poorly written," could be translated into, "needs reorganization and proofreading." Doing this means you still get to learn, and you can take the sting out of the comments.
Learning how to ask for constructive feedback will serve you well throughout your entire life, build this skill in college and you will see your grades improve, you'll find yourself having an easier time on assignments, and you'll ultimately feel better about yourself and your work - I promise.