Feedback and Peer Review: It’s a gift!

I always look at feedback as a gift. In like fashion, when I am asked to provide feedback, I take that responsibility seriously. The person who is working on a project is taking that project seriously and they deserve to have equal and fair effort by others who provide peer review and feedback.

As I reflect on the feedback that I received from my instructor and my peers, I can see the value of perspective. Having feedback from others can be very good if they take the time to really understand what is presented and mindfully share their point of view. For example, I got instructor feedback that suggested any original thought or idea needed to be cited and referenced to ensure that it was either valid or supported by others.  I question that philosophy, but understand now why it is important to make sure to assign credit and support for your ideas. Peer feedback is very important highly valued. I am not a teacher from the academia environment, so getting feedback from those who are proficient and skilled in academia is quite valuable to me. I try to understand the perspective and incorporate it into my business perspective to see how I can make adjustments. In general, I agree with most feedback in the sense that it is presented as a form of social constructivism. The feedback has all been formative.  It is an on-going cycle of getting insights and opinions as they are needed instead of finding out at the end of the class that you could have made improvement.  Formative has immediate value and is very timely and is always preferred.  Summative feedback has its place in forward thinking strategy but formative has the advantage of being real-time and tactical.

When I disagree, I always ask myself why I disagree and then challenge those premises to see if I need to re-think my position. Sometimes the feedback is ill founded and not supported, so it not accepted and usually left behind without a strong argument, unless the source is willing to discuss in more detail.

I consider myself an expert in several domains.  However when it comes to be competent as a teacher I consider myself to be more of an apprentice.  Therefore, most of the time I welcome and respect and accept feedback without even questioning the value of it.  I take it as a gift and learn from it quickly.  Examples can be trivial like following the APA guidelines correctly and not having two spaces after a period or more sophisticated like missing the story telling schema required in a literature review.  However, if I disagree with feedback and feel that I have a strong and differing opinion I will not hesitate to go deeper into discussion on the topic in order to better understand the differences.  A good example of that might be in resolving the operational definition and perspective of what it means by “open source” tools, etc.

The nice thing about theory is the ability to add on and change and modify based on feedback. Einstein’s theory of relativity has been expanded with new knowledge and improved. My person learning theory is based on a constructivist approach. I know how I learn and it is an accumulative process, building on my previous knowledge. Others have been able to relate to the common theme of this theory and help change it in a more realistic model that I can internalize and grow.

It is important to know that feedback is a gift. You might event want to think of feedback and peer review as part of a continuous improvement process. Some might even call it quality control to a certain degree. Any process can be improved. In the world of six sigma – the process is to define, measure, analyze, improve and control. When it comes to research or just writing in general, it is good for others to evaluate your work. The goodness comes in terms of perspective and clarity. As you write, sometimes your thoughts are closely held within your mind and it is perfectly clear with your personal reference. Others however may see your message from an entirely different perspective and be able to provide clarifying feedback that will improve the overall content of your study or paper.

We are all influenced with feedback.  When we question ourselves that is even a form of direct feedback.  Why did I do this or do that?  I go back to the foundational definition of constructivism and that allows be to build it out according to my own personal experiences. When new technology is introduced, I always ask how I can use it to learn better.  That is part of the evolution of learning theories.  They do not stay constant. The good news is this – errors will be eliminated, additions will be suggested and deletions will be advocated. As the author you have total control over your document, but the insights of others is usually well received. NASA has a test that they give new astronauts. The test sets the stage in a hypothetical crash landing on the moon where you have twenty items to help you survive. You are asked to arrange the twenty items in terms of the most important to the least important. As an individual you perform this test by yourself and you are scored. The same test is then given to a team of five who are asked to work together to do the same test they did on their own. Every single team always outperforms the individual. That is the power of collective thinking and collaborative feedback.

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