Defanging feedback by rewriting into action items

In light of Carless & Boud’s recent paper on feedback literacy I’ve been trying to reflect on my own feedback literacy. More specifically I’ve been trying to note down what I do when feedback information comes my way. The most common formal feedback information I get is reviewer comments on papers. Here’s what I’ve noticed I do…

  1. Have an immediate affective response. This is usually some sort of hurt, though I’ve also felt anger, elation, stress, pride, shame and confusion.
  2. Hide the comments so they can’t hurt me.
  3. Make a todo note to give the comments a proper look later on.
  4. [time passes, often to the point where I now have to look at the comments again]
  5. Experience the same hurt from step 1 all over again.
  6. Use the comments to improve my work.

Listing this with numbers is probably not all that honest – there’s a lot more going back to step 1 than this suggests. It’s recursive and entangled more than it is linear.

However, I’ve found that when I make my first step rewriting the feedback comments into actionable todos for myself that this stops me from needing to affectively engage again. In rewriting I’m making them tasks I assign myself rather than critique – I’m ‘defanging’ the feedback. The emotional charge is mostly gone and I’m left with a set of todos.

There are probably a few dangers to this approach. Firstly I might conveniently misinterpret feedback comments into the sort of todos that I’d like to do. Secondly, in stripping them of the emotional charge I might be robbing myself of the potential benefits of emotional motivation. But in practice this approach serves me well when I remember to do it.

I’m not sure if this is an incredibly mundane blog post (perhaps rewriting feedback comments is really common and I just missed the memo?), so I actually had it saved on my computer for a month or so. However at the CRADLE-DER feedback symposium in Prato I’ve been encouraged to engage in intellectual streaking, so here it is!

This post was originally published on Read the original post.

Category list: Reflections

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