December 15, 2011

An Introduction to Critical Thinking (A5) – First entry



Workshop: An Introduction to Critical Thinking; Tutor: Austin Griffiths

Date: 13/12/2011


Critical thinking has always been the weakest chink in my academic armour. Hailing from India, where I have NEVER once been expected to critically think (maybe because our only mode of assessment was written exams!), I find this concept extremely elusive! For this very reason, and the fact that a chunk of my assessed coursework (for MSc. Biotechnology and Business Management) is essays (which rely on the concept of critical thinking), I decided to attend the 'Introduction to Critical Thinking' workshop on 13/12/2011 at 10 am.

As expected, I was not at all disappointed by the workshop, which involved loads of activities like analysis of pieces of writing or solving puzzles or picking out the logical and valid arguments from the not and others. We also learnt the important concepts of questioning and challenge and logic and argument. I daresay that this was by far the BEST workshop amongst the four others that i have attended for the Masters Skills Portfolio Awards.

The main reason why the workshop was so good, according to me, is because of the brilliance with which the tutor, Austin Griffiths conducted it. He showed us an interesting video (my favourite part) and was constantly interacting with us, patiently answering all queries as we went along. He even took the time off after to help me with a few queries regarding my essay.

At the end of the workshop, we were asked to come up with a few things that we would consciously want to make an effort to improve. Since I am an absolute zero at critically analyzing anything, I literally have to start from scratch! So these are the few Action Points that I came up with:-

  • I will, firstly try to critically assess EVERY piece of text i read and try to figure if there was a scope for the author to say something better/more/with more references/proof. This will help me analyze text better and enhance my critical thinking as well.
  • As Mr. Griffiths suggested, I will not take for granted any text for my coursework, just because it has been written by an established name. I will reason it out and be more opinionative.
  • With respect to my essays, I have one due on the 10th of January, 2012. It is titled "Has gene therapy come of age?" I had no clue how to approach such a topic until i spoke with Mr. Griffiths and, based on his guidance, I am going to try to look at it from a critical perspective and change my entire outlook to the essay, i.e. be more critical and add my opinions wherever i think appropriate. This will just be the start to a the fresh perspective that i will try to add to all my essays or any other written/read work, from here on forward.
  • Another very crucial thing which i will implement is critically analyzing my own essay after writing it, in a manner the assessor of my work would. This would help me logically reason out and validate my work and find loopholes, if any, to correct before making a submission.

So these are the action points i took home from the workshop and i will strive to achieve each and every one of them, to make myself a better person and make it all worth it, in the long run.

Have a lovely week.

Regards

Abbas



Leading a Group Project (P8) – First entry



Workshop : Leading a Group Project; Tutor: Mary Sage

Date: 12/12/2011


The "Leading a Group Project" workshop conducted on the 12th of December, 2011 at 1:30 pm was a very interesting workshop. It was an eye opener for me because i always thought that i was pretty good at leading a group project, and just leading in general. Infact, i had just lead a group project for my course MSc. Biotech and Business Management for the Marketing Management module and though i thought that we had done a pretty good job managing ourselves, along the course of the workshop, i realized how much better we could have done.

The workshop consisted of a lot of activities which helped me actually think of the finer details of leading a group project, following which we were taught about a few leadership styles and methods to effectively keep track of our projects' finer details so as to always be ahead of deadlines.

Ms. Mary Sage is a great tutor and she encouraged us to give our opinions and sorted out all our questions before moving on, despite the time constraint. I remember being involved in quite a few discussions myself.

At the end of the workshop, we were asked to come up with a few things that we would consciously want to make an effort to initiate/improve. So these are the few Action Points that I came up with:-

  • Firstly, I will make a conscious effort to change my leadership style to Participative, from my natural Authoritarian style, in ALL future leadership roles (as the SSLC Rep for my class,for starters, by interacting more with my classmates and taking their opinions of the problems we are facing, before attending the SSLC meetings (next on Jan 21, 2012), rather than just giving my own inputs), as i feel it will be more useful and produce better results. This does not mean that i will stick only to this style, but adapt my leadership style to the situation. I aim however, to mostly be a Participative leader
  • Set up ground rules for everyone to see and know - I found this to be a very useful piece of advice to avoid confusion and that is the first thing i'm going to do for the group assignment of my next module 'Finance and Accounts' which begins on January 3rd, 2012
  • Use a GANTT chart to closely monitor task completion by different members, within the Accounts group project due on 13th January, so as to help finish on time
  • Use the MindManager Software for all future projects and presentations, starting today, to help better organize all my ideas

So these are the action points i took home from the workshop and i will strive to achieve each and every one of them, to make myself a better person and make it all worth it, in the long run.

Have a lovely week.

Regards

Abbas



November 30, 2011

Speed Reading Workshop – 11/11/2011 – Tutor – Ms. Han–Na Cha– First Entry



Workshop: Speed Reading, Masters Skills: 11/11/2011 Tutor - Ms. Han-Na Cha


The Speed Reading workshop at 3pm on 11/11/2011 was probably one of the more useful workshops that i have, and will have ever attended. I knew i was a slow reader but the extent of my slowness was figured out then; a ridiculous 150 words a minute, which is pathetic, considering English is my first language.

As the day progressed, i learnt new and better techniques to improve myself, and to be honest, not all of them worked, but some of them did, to a great extent. The evening proceeded with a series of excercises and test and i definitely did way better than I had expected to.

Ms. Han-Na is a great tutor and she brought with her a lot of bubbliness and enthusiasm into the whole experience, and made a subject as boring as READING (in my opinion), fun and exciting.

At the end of the workshop, we were asked to come up with a few things that we would consciously want to make an effort to improve. Since I didnt follow ANY of the suggestions made for speed reading, I had to literally start from scratch! So these were the few Action Points that I came up with:-

  • Sitting upright while reading - While i have managed to make a conscious effort to do that, it is still hard. But the whole of last week, I sat up straight for atleast 2 hours everytime i was reading, so that's an improvent.
  • Keeping text atleast 30cm away - Consciously working on that and i have been doing it all week now.
  • No backtracking - This is a very crucial issue i need to address as it would eat up alot of my time earlier. When i was reading a few articles for my esay last week, I didn't seem to understand alot of stuff on the first read and so i would keep following that particular line back. Then, as Ms. Han-Na had suggested, I decided to read the entire text once and even though i did not understand parts of the entire concept/paragraph, I got an overall picture, which was very helpful. So, this was a start and now im consciously making an effort to do it.
  • Made bullet points of the text i read - I have been doing this for a week now, and even though i initially thought that it was a waste of paper and more time, i found that in the long run, it actually saved me time because i could just look at my notes to recollect what the paper said, rather than having to read up the paper again. I have made notes for three research articles, till date.
  • Following these really helpful points, my reading speed has now increased to 183 words a minutes, on a consistent basis!!

So these were the action points i took home from the first workshop and i will strive to achieve each and every one of them, to make myself a better person and make it all worth it, in the long run.

Have a lovely week.

Regards

Abbas



November 14, 2011

P1 Workshop – An Introduction to Skills Development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio – First Entry

P1 Workshop - Tutor: Dr. Amanda Randall Entry on: 14/11/2011


This is my first blog entry ever ---> Pretty excited!!!!

The P1 Workshop of the Warwick Skills Portfolio Awards was a great start to a series of workshops i'm looking forward to attending. Being a Masters student of Biotechnology, Bioprocessing and Business Management, i am quite tied for time, but to attend atleast 6 workshops, is a choice i made. The six that i have decided upon, as of now are:

  • P1 - An Introduction to Skills Development
  • A4 - Effective Learning Strategies
  • A5 - An Introduction to Critical Thinking
  • A6 - Academic Writing at Masters Level
  • A7 - Speedy Reading
  • P8 - Leading a Group Project

The first workshop I attended was the P1 workshop on 7/11/2011. The atmosphere was great. A lot of curious, excited faces. We recieved a warm welcome from Dr. Randall, our tutor for that evening and after a series of interactive excercises, the entire crowd seemed to become comfortable with each other. It was nice to see a diverse group of attendees. The workshop taught me a alot about myself; made me thing about my life; what i'm doing well and what i'm not. It gave me an insight on what kind of learner i am, theorist, which was pretty suprising because I most certainly am not! At the end of the workshop, we were asked to come up with a few things that we would consciously want to make an effort to improve, so these were the few Action Points i came up with:-

  • Look for new things to do - Status: Working on it
  • Try sticking to a routine schedule to stick to, for a better, disciplined lifestyle - Status:Working on it
  • Evaluate ideas before proposing them - Status:Working on it
  • Be an effective listener; i.e. listen carefully to the details of what people have to say - Status:Working on it
  • Attend the Speedy Reading workshop - Status: Completed (Attended the one on 11/11/2011)
  • Attend atleast two other workshops before Term 2 begins* - Status:Working on it

* I have decided to attend the ones on Leading a Group Project (P8) and Critical Thinking (A5) on the 12th and 13th of December, 2011 respectively.

So these were the action points i took home from the first workshop and i will strive to achieve each and every one of them, to make myself a better person and make it all worth it, in the long run.

If you are curious as to whether i'm just a talker or i will actually work on my action points, watch out for my next blog...soon!!!

Have a lovely week.

Regards

Abbas


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  • Hello Abbas – I'm pleased you found the workshop useful – you've produced a great set of clear actio… by Mary Sage on this entry
  • Thank you Mr. Griffiths. I will do my best to follow your advice. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year… by Abbas Siraj Deesawala on this entry
  • Hi Abbas, Thank you for your comments on the workshop. I am glad it was useful in helping you develo… by Austin Griffiths on this entry
  • Thank you for your advise Ms. Cha. I will definitely do reading and note–making next term. Also, my … by Abbas Siraj Deesawala on this entry
  • Hi Abbas, Thanks for this post with your action plan and also how you've put them into progress thus… by Han-na Cha on this entry

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