Feedback Early and Often

The open source software movement has a a philosophy of releasing early and often… in order to take advantage of feedback from the user community. In business and in progressive education, I’ve also often heard the adage “fail early, fail often.” Again, the primariy purpose of this is to receive feedback, but it also helps one avoid perfectionism and practice risk taking.

Given my frustrating first efforts at beginning to actually write the dissertation, I want to seek feedback early… and perhaps often as time goes on, though hopefully the early feedback will help alleviate the need for more feedback later in the process. Regardless, I’m suddenly very aware of my lack of people to talk with about this.

I’ve finally started writing (after arriving at 450 pages of notes when I finally got my last few resources into my outliner). I decided to start with the first substantial section of chapter 2, a brief overview of constructivism prior to discussing constructivist learning environments in more depth. Despite my initial efforts at organizing and outlining my notes, this was still a daunting task. My six pages of notes just for this segment alone were in places overwhelming, insufficient, or rehashed and poorly written material from previous papers. After a few aborted efforts at writing the section, I was frustrated.

I finally talked through it with Eva and she motivated me to write a “one page” version of the section with no notes. This turned out alright, so I went on and supported each point with what I considered a minimal amount of research. It represents not even the tip of the ice burg (luckily, there are several much more detailed sections to follow), but I think it serves the purpose… and it comes off more like the articles I’ve written recently than the laborious papers I wrote over the past two years.

In any case, I’d love feedback if any of you can take a minute to look over these six pages. Imagine it’s followed by nine more sections that provide greater detail. (I’ve linked to an overview outline of my dissertation with this section highlighted to put it into perspective.) I’m curious if this is the sort of writing you’d expect to see in a literature review?