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SOAR 2018 Julia DeMarco ’19

Julia DeMarco ’19

“Individual and Peer Feedback Systems: Exploring the Effect of Recipient’s Personal Purpose Statements”

Major: Health Science
Hometown: Scranton, PA
Project Advisor: Dr. Robert Brill

Describe your project.

Our project had two purposes—the first was to modify two previous feedback systems created by Dr. Brill and the second was to test a research question regarding the use of a purpose statement in the feedback systems. The two feedback systems were an individual feedback system and a peer rounded system. Along with the two feedback systems, we adapted the systems to work for both an organizational and athletic context.

The individual system targets individuals in a leadership position to be given feedback from their direct reports. There are three performance dimensions on which the individual is assessed: leadership, teamwork/communication, and emotional intelligence. Once all of the feedback is collected, Dr. Brill and I create a feedback report for the individual recipient to analyze the results from their direct reports.

The peer rounded system involves facilitated team discussion to create their own behaviorally anchored rating scale (BARS), customized to the teams standards and norms. After the team creates their scale, each team member rates each other on three performance dimensions: motivation, teamwork/communication, and emotional intelligence. After the feedback session is over, Dr. Brill and I create a feedback report for each team member. The peer rounded system is unique because it is a team-building session where the team gets to create and standardize their norms and behaviors while also getting to provide their team members with constructive feedback.

Our research question was to examine the effects recipients’ purpose statements had on the rating quality of the feedback contributors. There is often much ambiguity when filling out a performance feedback survey. The contributors are unaware of the value and planned utilization of the feedback they contribute. We believe the contributors’ motivation will increase from the decrease in uncertainty. For the individual process, our method to test this theory was to have the feedback recipient generate a purpose statement and then split their direct reports into a control and experimental group. The control group did not receive the recipient’s purpose statement and the experimental group did receive the purpose statement. The peer rounded session is also broken up into control and experimental groups. The experimental group takes five minutes before they start creating their scale to create a team purpose statement. The control group does not take the time to create a purpose statement; they go though the normal orientation and start their scales.

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How did your project come about?

I approached Dr. Brill to see if he would be interested in taking on a SOAR project during the summer. I learned about a previous project of Dr. Brill’s while I was in his Sports Psychology class and found it extremely interesting. When I approached him, he told me he had a research question he has been interested in testing, along with wanting to improve on his previous project that I learned about during class.

What was the best part about working with your faculty mentor? What valuable insights did he bring to your project?

Along with acquiring and enhancing my skills as a researcher, the best part of working with Dr. Brill was being able to explore an area of study that does not directly relate to my field, but is interesting to me. I was extremely appreciative of Dr. Brill agreeing to work with me because I did not have much experience in this field of study. Dr. Brill was an amazing mentor for me this summer; he taught me to trust myself when it comes to my work. I was hesitant at first because of my lack of experience and I would hesitate from adding my own extra work and ideas to the project because I was not sure if what I was adding was right or helpful. Dr. Brill encouraged me to trust my instinct and showed me that even if my work was not fully correct it is all part of the research process. Even though I had several classes that were research oriented at Moravian, I was only able to do bits and pieces of the research process but after participating in SOAR this summer I was able to get a full understanding of the process.

What was your biggest obstacle?

The biggest obstacle during the project was the recruitment of participants. We needed to find teams and leaders to participate in our project, which was more difficult than finding individuals. It was very difficult to find athletic teams during the summer, which is why we extended our project through the fall. Our process also has several steps before being able to participate, which involves the participants writing a purpose statement and submitting a consent form. This can take longer than expected because it can create a delay if the purpose statement or forms do not get submitted quickly.

What has been your biggest takeaway from this experience?

My biggest takeaway from this experience is that if you want something it is important to take the initiative to get it. I have always been shy but I have wanted to participate in SOAR since last year. It was really important for me to gain this experience and so I initiated the conversation with Dr. Brill. Even though I am not a psychology major, I was really interested in this topic and pursued it anyway. If I did not approach Dr. Brill I would have missed out on an amazing experience and would have missed the opportunity to explore this area of study. I learned so much during my time working with Dr. Brill and could not imagine missing out on the experience I received during while conducting research with him this summer.

What was the result of your project?

We were not able to get data for our project because of the unexpected amount of time the recruiting process took. The beginning stage of our process involves the cooperation of the participants, since we must wait for them to create and send their purpose statement. However, we did create two feedback processes, which are able to target different contexts and members of a team. Dr. Brill and I have continued our research and are now collecting data from the participants we were able to recruit in the summer.

Overall, how do you feel about being awarded this opportunity? Why should other students take advantage of the SOAR program at Moravian College?

I feel extremely privileged to have been awarded the opportunity to participate in the SOAR program. It was amazing to be around other student-researchers and professors who have such a passion for their field of study. I learned more during my experience than I even imagined I would. Other students should pursue the SOAR program because it is a way to expand their research skills and knowledge with a mentor who is also passionate about the same area of interest.

Any plans to expand upon your research?

I am working with Dr. Brill on an independent study to obtain more data for our project. This includes continually recruiting more participants and collecting the data from their surveys. We will also be working with teams to test our peer rounded system.

Do you intend to present this research outside the SOAR presentations?

We will be preparing a submission to present at the Eastern Psychological Association in New York in March 2019.