Giving Feedback on A&S competition entries

Feedback is vital to any A&S competition, and may well be the most important part of the process, as it can help people understand where their work was good and how improve their skills or knowledge.

Step one to providing good feedback is understanding what has motivated someone to do something. Some of the reasons people may enter an A&S competition:

  • Motivate themselves into trying something new
  • Motivate themselves into finishing a project
  • See if they can challenge themselves in their chosen field of study
  • Would like to see how they do against their peers
  • Would like recognition for their hard work
  • Share their knowledge
  • Help improve their practice
  • Help improve their documentation

Step two is to talk about what you liked about the work. Praise the good points. Each entrant has put time and effort into their work and is proud of it at some level. Your courtesy in acknowledging their effort and pride adds to the strength of A&S in the Kingdom.

Step three suggest areas for improvement. Think carefully about what would be most useful to that person right now. Perhaps answer questions they raised in their documentation, or give them a tip that would help with the next version they make. Suggest further resources or people to talk to.

Some dont’s:

  • Don’t advise them on something they’ve acknowledged as a decision in their documentation i.e. if they have acknowledged they used non-period materials but know what the period material is and have explained why they didn’t use it, then telling them they should have used it sounds dismissive.
  • Don’t tell them why they missed out on points, they’re (generally) not entering to get more points, they’re entering for practical advice.
  • Don’t critique the writing of documentation, unless specifically asked. Our artisans come from a variety of educational backgrounds and as judges we are considering the execution of the item they have decided to make, not their quality of academic writing.

Other tips:

  • Helpful, constructive commentary is good, blunt and harsh is not.
  • If you say something is good/not so good – say why – people need to know the reasons for your comments
  • Using ‘because’ and ‘this was’ to link up your reasons.
  • Use descriptors when talking about why you like something or why something wasn’t successful.
  • Using words like ‘not successful (in this way)’ or ‘could have improved (the overall look)’ are gentle ways of giving constructive commentary.