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Seeking Feedback While Writing Your Dissertation

For PhD students, knowing how to ask for feedback and how to act on it is vital in establishing a beneficial student-supervisor relationship. Across an academic career, feedback and peer reviewing plays a central role in research careers, whether it is comments from your supervisor, readers’ reports on publication submissions or anonymous reviews of conference or grant proposals. This workshop considers how you can generate, analyse and make the most of feedback throughout the research process to improve your research and writing practice.

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Seeking Feedback While Writing Your Dissertation

  1. 1.<br />Ilene d. Alexander, phd<br />University of Minnesota<br />Center for teaching and learning<br />Seeking (Framing and Using) Supervisor Feedback<br />
  2. 2. Session Overview<br />Writing as a Process with Comfort & Resilience <br />Ideas from Exemplars<br />Examining Elements of a Resilient Feedback Process<br />Developing Practices for Feedback <br />In a Writing Up Mode<br />In a Writing as a Process Mode<br />Conveying Requests for Feedback<br />In Person, In Writing; At Which Stages, From Which Responders<br />Making Sense of Accumulated Feedback<br />Reviewing/Mapping Feedback; Say-Back Memos; Yes, And<br />
  3. 3. Writing as a Process<br /><br />
  4. 4. (How) Do you use writing as a process? <br />How do you approach writing? Scholarly, academic writing requires “writing before you’re ready”, steady chunks of writing time throughout the research process, commitment to drafting as a way of making meaning, strategies for seeking feedback as a component of substantially revising work, and working with writing-supportive peers. <br />Take 10-15 minutes to inventory how you have and now currently approach/complete major writing projects or assignments – does your approach incorporate “writing as a process”? does some (or much) of the process of writing seem a mystery to you? are there components that you regularly skip? are there practices you hope to incorporate?<br />Only you will read this writing. And, we’ll all discuss ideas.<br />
  5. 5. Writing as a Process<br />Writing with power also means getting<br />power over yourself and <br />over the writing process.<br />- Peter ElbowU Massachusetts-Amherst<br />
  6. 6. What’s “Critical” in Feedback<br />What does “criticism” look/feel/sound like in academic settings?<br />How does “critical feedback” look/sound/feel as an interaction?<br />What might be other ways of conceptualizing this interchange, exchange of views?<br />critical care zone<br />dinner party<br />professional inquiry <br />other metaphors, conceptions – for practice, for people & roles<br />
  7. 7.
  8. 8. Gaining Comfort & Fluency<br />selection from Robert Boice’sHow Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency (1994 <br />
  9. 9. Developing Resilience<br />a positive capacity to cope with stress & catastrophe<br />an ability to bounce back after a disruption<br />a capacity to use exposure to stress to provoke strategy to address future negative events / challenges<br />a positive behavioral / cognitive / kinesthetic adaptation in encountering significant adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or sources of stress<br />involves two judgments<br />one about "positive adaptation" <br />one about significance of risk or adversity<br />
  10. 10.
  11. 11. Elements of Resilient Feedback*<br />Trust - Energy<br />Communication - Listening<br />Acceptance - Collaboration<br />Building - Partnership<br />Spontaneity - Innovation<br />*as in improv<br />
  12. 12. “Yes, and…” Thinking<br />I am going to say 'yes' to you, accepting whatever you have said<br />I am going to say ‘yes, but’ to show I actually don’t accept whatever you have said<br />I am going to say ‘yes, and,' to share my ideas linked to yours by building on what you have said <br /> <br />'Yes but' is a conversation stopper<br />'Yes and' is a conversation builder<br />'Yes and' … opens minds, helps people listen, and moves us mindfully forward in creating a supportive environment as well as sparking motivation for learning, writing, revising, collaboration<br />
  13. 13. “Yes, and…” Thinking<br /><ul><li>Brings positive energy to academia/workplace – act of trust
  14. 14. Affirms and expands possibilities – act of innovation
  15. 15. Conveys taking in of what has been said – act of listening
  16. 16. Moves conversation forward constructively – act of collaboration
  17. 17. Helps create partnerships within the unit and within the larger community – act of building</li></li></ul><li>“Yes, and…” Thinking<br />
  18. 18. “Yes, and…” Thinking<br />“Yes, and…” in Writing Process<br />
  19. 19. Feedback: In Writing Up Mode<br />
  20. 20. What Do We Need to Learn?<br />Ways of responding in writing<br />Revision: Content and Organization<br />Where and why it’s needed<br />Strategies for content development, overall organization and development of cohesive analysis / argument / knowledge construction<br />Transitions Coherence Unity<br />Revision: Surface Features<br />Key sections, paragraphs, sentences<br />Section, paragraph, sentence structures<br />Conventions – of language, of citation style, of formatting<br />
  21. 21. What Do We Need to Learn?<br />Ways of responding conversationally<br />Summarizing – Narratives, Dialogues, Comparisons<br />Telling – Stories, Scenes, Portraits <br />Showing – Ideas, Options, Missed Moments<br />Pointing – 1st Thoughts, Asking<br />
  22. 22. Feedback: In a Writing Process Mode<br />
  23. 23. What Do We Need to Learn?<br />Audience – real readers<br />Purpose – writerly and readerly concerns<br />Research question – methods, organization<br />Thesis statement – initially and carrying it forward<br />Focus – idea(s) and argument(s)<br />Flow – sign posts and transitions<br />Readability – real readers, real audience<br />Academic context – conversation around/launching<br />So What? – implications, interest, integrity, impact<br />
  24. 24. What Do We Need to Learn?<br />Good Questions – Good Questioning<br />Open Ended Questions <br />Asking for Information <br />Diagnostic Questions <br />Challenge Questions <br />Extension Questions <br />Combination Questions <br />Priority Questions <br />Action Questions <br />Prediction Questions <br />Generalizing and Summarizing Questions<br />
  25. 25. What Do We Need to Learn?<br />Bloom’s Taxonomy as a Tool to Frame Questions<br />
  26. 26.
  27. 27. Revision Memos<br />For transmitting new materials or corresponding with readers new to your drafts, a Revision Memo provides<br />(1) a short narrative contextualizing the segment in the larger work<br />(2) a statement to pinpoint the extent of, what type of, and suggested timeline for feedback you want from individual reviewer<br />(3) specific questions to frame your concerns/queries and guide the reviewer in providing feedback<br />(4) synopsis of revisions you’ve already undertaken<br />
  28. 28. Sample Revision Memo<br />Sample memo for a early draft of dissertation writing:<br />Discuss what you see as the strengths of your chapter/next draft/final thesis.<br />Note any passages you have recently revised and/or are still working to develop – describe why you’ve made particular changes, and why you’ve have not pursued other suggestions, what you see as “missing” or not quite complete, clear, detailed enough inarea(s) you highlight. <br />If you are trying to decide between ideas, approaches, tactics, balance of review of sources and your analysis, say that – and show/sketch out what you see as options and are trying to figure out. <br />Close with 3-5 well developed, specific questions/queries you want readers to address as they give you feedback on this draft.<br /> <br />
  29. 29. Letter of Transmittal – slide 1 <br />A more formal Letter of Transmittal may accompany a “ready for defense” and may include: <br />(1) reminder of dissertation title<br />(2) listing of material the reader has previously read/responded to<br />(3) summary locating the portion of the dissertation now being transmitted in the overall work<br />(4) summary of key focus/ideas presented & discussed in the transmitted material<br />(5) context for what is – and is not – being done in theory/method/methodology/this project overall<br />
  30. 30. Letter of Transmittal – slide 2<br />(6) highlight of changes that have been made from previous versions, and upon what previous advice and from<br />(7) list of your specific questions for this particular reader<br />(8) highlight whether and which other readers are responding to this segment<br />(9) set out a time line for responses and next steps you will be taking on receipt of comments<br />