Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Time Management Tuesday: An Ultralearning Case Study, Principle 6 Feedback

Let's pause here to remind ourselves (myself) why we're (I'm) doing this read for Time Management Tuesday: Ultralearning by Scott Young describes a method of rapid learning. (Saving time, see?) Research/learning new material is frequently a necessity in all kinds of writing. I use it not only to  provide background info in fiction but to inspire plot and characterization. Saving time doing this could be huge for writers, particularly this one.

Refresher On Our Case Study: I am trying to plan an ultralearning project related to history, because I have a character who is a senior in college with a history major. I want his knowledge of history and, more importantly, how to do research to figure into the plot. The main issue I've decided I need to learn about is historical methodology

Check out the posts to date on Principles 1 through 5.

Now we're ready to start on Principle 6, Feedback.

Young says feedback  is a common tactic for ultralearners. "What often separated the ultralearning strategy from more conventional approaches was the immediacy, accuracy, and intensity of the feedback being provided."

Remember, the last principle was testing, which ultralearners use as a learning tool, not an evaluation tool. Testing is arguably how traditional students get feedback, though they aren't able to do much with it, because there are rarely opportunities to go back and learn what the test results indicate they don't know. So what do ultralearners use as feedback?

Outcome Feedback

Outcome feedback tells you how you're doing but doesn't offer much about quality--whether you're doing better or worse. Traditional grades are outcome feedback or it can come from a group. Applause is outcome feedback. Book sales are outcome feedback. The feedback doesn't tell you why this is happening. Perhaps blog and website statistics are outcome feedback. You know the sites are or aren't successful, you don't know why.

This is often the only kind of feedback available.

Informational Feedback

Informational feedback can tell you what you're doing wrong but won't necessarily provide information on how to fix it. The examples Young gives--speaking a foreign language with a native speaker who doesn't understand you, getting applause, or not, from a performance--sounds similar to outcome feedback to me.

Corrective Feedback

Clearly, this is feedback that shows you what you're doing wrong and how to correct it. It's often only available through someone who knows more than you do. However, Young includes study materials like flash cards and solutions to problems as corrective feedback. You can use these to check your learning.

But that sounds like the last principle, testing. Unless you want to think of it as providing your own feedback.

Our Case Study: Remember, I am not trying to learn a skill like speaking a language or coding, two examples Young uses a lot in his book. I'm trying to acquire a basic knowledge of how a subject is studied. What kind of feedback do I need?
  1. Have I comprehended this correctly?
  2. Am I correct in applying it to the character and situation in my book?
How will I get this feedback? Once again, I will be using what I learn in a writing project. The classic ways for writers to get feedback are:
  1. Writers' group
  2. Beta readers
  3. Response from agent
  4. Working with editors
  5. Response from reviewers/readers 
If writers can find beta readers who are knowledgeable in the field they studied to write their book, they can get some targeted, corrective feedback. The same is true if reviewers know the field. That feedback will be coming way too late, of course.
I can't think of anything new for providing myself with feedback as a result of reading Ultralearning.

However, I am now considering a story idea about a writer who goes mad doing research, continuing with it for years and years. And years. And a little longer. I'm pretty sure that's been done. Though I haven't researched the topic yet.

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