Constructive Criticism: A Tool for Improvement

By Petress, Ken | College Student Journal, September 2000 | Go to article overview

Constructive Criticism: A Tool for Improvement


Petress, Ken, College Student Journal


Constructive criticism is defined as helpful suggestions with socio-emotional implications. A rationale for the giving of and the reception of constructive criticism are offered. Critics and critical recipients are encouraged to work as a team; both responsible, in their own way, for how criticism is received and interpreted. Suggestions for critics on how to usefully phrase criticism and suggestions for receivers on how to demonstrate appropriate interpretation of criticism are offered.

All of us render judgments about others' beliefs, values, and behaviors. Some of our judgments are well thought out; yet, others are more spontaneously offered. At times, judgments are made [not always intentionally] to belittle or demean receivers. Other judgments seem rendered to make critics appear superior or powerful rather than to support or enhance receivers.

Constructive criticism is judgement given for the purposes of: (a) offering receivers external views of their performance to compare with self oriented views of their work; (b) helping the receiver recognize or interpret ways to improve past performances and/or ways to improve on future attempts; (c) demonstrating to receivers that their efforts merit judgment [as opposed to being ignored or distorted]; (4) showing genuine interest and appreciation for a receiver's effort; and (5) being encouraging, affirming, and supportive for the purpose of building confidence.

An example of this kind of constructive criticism came from a colleague whom I asked to review a first draft of this essay. My colleague commented: "... The ideas discussed in the essay seem useful to our students. I would suggest some further specific examples as given [in a specific essay section]." This suggestion pointed out a potential deficiency while adding a perceived positive view of the work. A less constructive criticism of the writing could have been phrased: "You don't use enough examples."

While the content dimension of constructive criticism is vitally important, context, real or attributed motives for criticism, and timing also carry considerable weight. Critics need to carefully consider judgment context. By offering assessments publicly, in too loud or harsh a voice, in a condescending tone, or inappropriately juxtaposed with non-related messages, critics may diminish, contradict, or obfuscate well meant criticism. Constructively offered criticism, to be more likely interpreted positively by receivers, must be produced in a voice that conveys genuineness and sincerity or it likely will fail and be interpreted as insincere and not genuine. Like all our messages, criticism needs to be prudently timed. Criticism given tardily, prematurely, or too rapidly can predictably lessen a receiver's appreciation for the judgment.

My dissertation advisor was a master critic. He managed to phrase most positive comments by suggesting they were personal attributes while phrasing work that needed improvement as work qualities rather than author characteristics. He phrased his comments as means to improve both the immediate product [my dissertation] and my long term writing and research skills. His criticism was specific [detailed] rather than general or vague. Rather than suggesting I "use fewer prepositional phrases," he might comment: "Have you considered the benefit to readers of being more direct in your writing?" Perceived shortcomings in my work were relayed to me privately; they were offered as suggestions rather than demands and were offered in an encouraging tone of voice. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Constructive Criticism: A Tool for Improvement
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.