Summative Evaluation (grades) is what you get at the end, when the conversation is over and there's not much you can do about it, but Formative Evaluation, feedback, is the good advice you get along the way that you can put to use.


  • Working consistently and keeping your results in a notebook will quickly help you see that you are, in fact, making progress!
  • Create a safe, special space for working, pin your best work on the wall and arrange your favorite books around you, take pride in building a supportive micro-world!
  • The Voices Within offers a compelling discussion of how our internal conversations enlighten and support
  • The Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp, discusses rituals, contexts, and a variety of other supports for creative thinking

Your Friends and Classmates

  • Your friends and classmates are quite often your our best sources for clarification, brain-storming, and support, not least when you see yourselves in the same boat, taking turns offering advice and help when interpreting the assignment, offer assurances you are on the right tract, offering critical support
  • The Harvard Assessment Seminars found that academic achievement is strongly associated with the ability of students to organize and participate in groups: that “interactive relationships organized around academic work are vital”
  • The power of talking sideways to children offers some powerful insight into fundamental needs — ones I think you will quickly see apply to adults as well

Your Instructors

  • Your instructors can be counted on for good advice, especially when you have written something up that reflects thought and attention, because we have all been trained to respect serious efforts to keep up with lessons and then head out into independent work and action — that’s our “calling”, after all — but we all teach 18 hours and have other business on the side, so ask carefully and strategically (office hours?)

Feedback from professionals

  • In my classes, a premium is placed on your surveying what relevant professionals are discussing — the literature review — and when you would join these conversations in internships, at conferences, and of course in job interviews: find out how they talk and you’ll soon know their language, and your chances of being welcomes by them are increased tremendously!