During this past fall semester, I was able to focus on refining my resource and opening up channels from which I could receive feedback. As far as the former of those goes, I feel I was successful. I added a foreword containing my own self-reflection on the manual’s purpose, as well as an appendix containing my entire DataJam project for reference. I also rebranded the manual to fit the new name of the competition, DataJam, and refined the language and representation of the manual. With the latter, I was able to receive some feedback via meetings with teams, and I opened up a Google Form allowing for anonymous feedback on the manual. The Google Form has yet to accumulate any responses, but I believe this is due to the fact that teams have not quite gotten to the analysis phase of their projects this year.
Overall, my deliverable has not changed all that much. I have only received rather minor feedback from the high school students, and there were only a few additions I made in the form of the foreword and project appendix. However, I believe that the changes that were made tailor the manual even more to the audience, which should optimize its usage even more. On the other hand, my expectations for the amount of feedback I thought I would receive from high school students did change. I found this semester that high schoolers did not have a ton of feedback to give on my manual overall. One possibility is that the amount covered per session may have been too much. Our plan to cover the manual was to split it into four separate parts, but this still amounted to 10-20 pages per part. Another possibility is that the high schoolers may have simply not gotten around to reading the manual due to the stage of the project most are working on. The data analysis stage does not occur until the spring for most if not all teams, so teams may not have a need to heavily reference my manual (in which data analysis is a huge emphasis).
After my experience with this project and the seeking of feedback, I now realize the struggle for those who conduct people-based research. Seeking and especially receiving feedback from others on my project was a difficult task this past semester, but it was merely to improve my preexisting final deliverable. I now have much more respect for researchers who have to rely on surveys or voluntary human response as their entire source of data, especially if they are able to synthesize a significant result/conclusion.
First and foremost, I am still refining my writing skills as a result of continued work on this written manual. As a result of the student feedback I have received and the other self-edits I made, I am better learning how to frame writing for the optimal enjoyment of the audience. Second, I was able to improve my communication skills via virtual meetings with DataJam teams to discover their thoughts on my manual. Additionally, I was able to learn more about my presentation of the manual and if I was giving them an appropriate amount to think about. Finally, I believe I was able to reinforce my statistics and Excel skills by continuing to use and write about them in this internship.