The Benefits of Reflection and Feedback in Research
The Change Focus NYC Project launched this past summer and a group of young and adult researchers joined together to take on the research project and produce results that would aid in positive change across city agencies and various implementation levels. The research process remains intricate. There are many important factors that we must remain cognizant of as we analyze the data collected over the summer, review the codes and findings from our research, and package our findings so that our publications are useful to other change makers in the field.
Through this critical research process we also take time during our weekly sessions to reflect on our progress and provide feedback to support our work and maintain strong communication. There are many benefits to reflecting on our work and we find that reflecting on our work provides an opportunity to highlight the progress we are making, identify points of hope, new ideas, suggestions, and strengths that we are developing through the process. It’s also an opportunity to be honest and transparent. Providing feedback on our presentations and work while discussing it as a group helps us identify ways that we can improve, and ways in which we can ensure that the project remains aligned with our goals and true to the vision of the Intergenerational Change Initiative.
Before decisions are made, research must be done to understand how the proposed decisions will affect society. As a result, data collecting methods such as polls and focus groups are conducted. Often, when decisions affecting the youth are proposed, the youth are not always involved in the data collecting process. Instead, the data collected is focused on the parents and officials who will be indirectly affected. Now more than ever, young people of this society have begun to take a stand against such exclusive data methods. On multiple occasions, young people have identified the flaws in systems, agencies such as the Department of Education and American Child Services. Young people have established and advocated for change that benefited the officials, the parents and the youth.
As a young person and researcher who plays a role in influencing these agencies, it is important to be hopeful. Without hope, it is hard to complete the tasks need to leave an impression on government agencies. When the agencies are not conducting the research, we must conduct it. When it seems like no one will listen, we cannot stop talking. There are days when the work seems to have no end, but there is always the reminder that we are not alone. As advocates for the better, we support each other and we have the support of the youth unable to voice their opinions. However, there are also times when it may seem like none of our methods are working, the support is not there and the hope we feel, at this time, may not be enough. In that moment, advocates especially young advocates must remember why they began this journey, the experiences that encouraged them to advocate for change, and the people that inspired a feeling of hope. The role youth playing in influencing government agencies is a big one, but it is not a burden because the solution will not be the product of one young person, it will be the hope, belief, and research of many.