Ok ya’all. I’m having a rough day, and I can’t quite organize my time so that my mind can relax and trust everything is going to get done.

I’ve been working, just now, on your peer evaluations. So far I’ve recorded about a third of them. (I did warn you about that study, right?) Here’s the deal. I’m reading them, and I am so proud of you. Honest! I just had a huge upswelling of emotion as I recognize your earnestness to do the task and to think well of each other.

Here’s the game plan:

1) I’m learning how to work with Excel so I can create a spreadsheet that holds the data in such a way that I can manipulate it (you know – that statistical thing) to convey “answers” to certain questions. (I have an excellent tutor, Mr. Christian Wernz, who I’m hoping will actually come talk with us…)

2) I have to apply for the informed consent. Technically, I probably “ought” to have done it already, but that would be following an old, traditional, tired, and literally outdated format for social science research. If we accept as given (as our discipline of Communication supposedly does), that any act of agreement or disagreement is socially constructed, then what I/we have been doing is creating a frame where all of you and one of me (!) can create a study that meets with the broadest permission.

What I mean by that phrase, “broadest permission,” is the largest percentage of informed consent. The best studies (according to a basic assumption of people who like to count) are those with the highest percentage of participation. In reality (well, from the minimal knowledge I have about quantitative research), there are always reasons to discount some of the data. The way I’m interpreting the principle behind the procedures for discounting data, is:

for the purposes of this study in our class, it really is ok if some people don’t want the peer evaluation results included.

Why do I emphasize this point? Because the group-relevant reason I felt that rush of admiration for the way you are all stepping up to the task of peer evaluations (and I do know that this particular activity represents a special task) was that – as much as you want to feel good about each other and allow each other as much benefit of the doubt as possible – you are not letting anyone off the hook.

As I would predict in the early stages of group formation, you are all rating each other generously. This pattern makes those instances of critical feedback particularly significant. When the norm is to accept “whatever it is” that others give (i.e., how much they “contribute”), indicating that you want something either “more” or “different” from another person is risky. I am proud of those of you who have been willing to say something less than ideal about a classmate. And – the kicker is (!) – those of you who have rated your peers uniformly “great” are giving generally strong subjective reasons for these ratings. In other words, you truly accept the participation achieved by your classmates.

I am impressed.

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