My previous work as a hygiene promoter at primary schools required strong communication skills, especially during awareness-raising sessions. My role in this position was pushing the students to develop positive and effective health habits. The communication in these sessions mainly involved receiving feedback from young students and we used the word feedback to refer to the spontaneous comments from the children, like ‘I brushed my teeth’ or ‘I washed my hands’.
By participating in EAST project lectures and doing several tasks within the project, the concept of feedback appeared in a different meaning and as a result of my participation in this project, my understanding of what feedback is has developed. In constructive feedback course I learnt that feedback on any article should be based on some criteria such as: clarity of explanation, specificity, tone and others. During this project, I collaborated with Glasgow University students in an Environmental Engineering research project. The criticism and evaluation were vital ingredients of this collaboration as I was the mentor for the team and I had to provide them with information about the research and guide them in their supposed solution. I collaborated with two Chinese students from Glasgow University and the problem was traffic congestion. My role was guiding them to think about the possible and low-cost solution due to the lack of resources at Gaza Strip.
The EAST project was a great educational collaborative project as the tutor followed the technique of step-by-step focus on putting the foundation and bases of developing the skills in constructive feedback provision. Firstly, we trained in how to master effective feedback, then we acted as mentors in our work with colleagues from Glasgow. I believe the step-by-step method is useful in learning because it moves with the students from the foundation to the top of the skill in order to gradually expand the knowledge and skills base. I also liked the convenient usage of technology to communicate with colleagues at a distance. Although the online participation with students from different cultures was quite difficult, it was also interesting and challenging. For example, in the first call with my colleague there was some misunderstanding because of the language but we avoided it by using a translator.
Regarding the improved skills, I have developed my analytical thinking skills as I needed to analyze any piece of writing before evaluating. In addition, this project made me think creatively in order to evaluate the supposed alternatives for the problem. For example: noise pollution is a main problem at Gaza Strip because of the large number of electrical generators. Using shelter for the generators is the supposed solution which is the most suitable alternative at Gaza. The teamwork skill also evolved considerably, not only because I worked with a team based in a different country, but also because the team consisted of a mixture of international members. For example, the last call with my colleague was better in communicating in English than the first one, which means my ability to deal with multi-national people has been enhanced. Moreover, practicing English within the project has enhanced my language skills; it has particularly helped me become more confident when speaking in public.
Personally, I like when somebody criticizes my outcome or performance because I believe this will help me to improve. Providing positive points is important for encouragement and motivation while pointing out disadvantages is necessary for improvement and development. But mentioning the negatives should be done using polite phrasing to ensure the recipient will not get demotivated.