In the final stretch of the semester the Scholars wrestled with revising their papers. The deadline for submission of the first draft at the midpoint of the semester gave them a chance to take a short break while Professor Roberts and another classmate read them over. Stepping back from something they have been working on so intensively, even for a few days, helped them to see their work in a new way. They could better identify what was working really well, and what needed further improvement.
As we discussed in class, there are several different coping mechanisms for dealing with critical feedback on a draft.
Some turn to humor. Andrew, for example, was surprised to be proven wrong in his assumption “that the only labor yet remaining for me to complete for the seminar was the drafting of an acceptance speech for the Pulitzer Prize.” News of that prize is likely still coming but Andrew agreed that there were a few ways he could strengthen his paper.
Guy found that he needed visuals to process his reaction to the feedback he had received.
Others initially felt disheartened and anxious. “I struggled to become re-infatuated with my topic after shoving it to the back of my mind for less than a week,” Maya writes, “But if this paper is anything like a relationship, it takes work …” Olivia likened herself to St. Sebastian c.1960 staring down her persecutors’ arrows as she faced the feedback on her draft!
One Scholar even chose a complicated food analogy.
Once the emotions had been processed, the Scholars employed a range of different strategies for digesting and incorporating the feedback into their papers.
Bianca decided she would take one subsection of her paper every day – with “a couple of grace days to relax” – which went smoothly until she came to remaking her charts. Those proved to be the real time suck.
Claire drew on a formative exercise from her High School English classes to make sure that all of her ideas were presented as clearly and intelligibly as possible.
Shannon brought in outside assistance to help her get over some of the trickier challenges that her paper posed.
Susie, like many of the other Scholars, turned to the community of the class. Who better commiserate than those similarly suffering? And who better to celebrate with when the final paper is completed!
At the end of the day, however, each Scholar experienced a deep satisfaction from pouring her or himself into the creation of this paper. As Dan shares, “The topic continues to surprise me, and I’ve enjoyed all that I’ve pulled from it. At times this paper seems like it is never going to end, but when it does, I’m sure it will be bittersweet.”