June 30, 2011

Revamping my Learning Skills

Follow-up to Diversity of Learning Styles from Sam's blog

Revamping my Learning Skills

Since I have become more aware of the strenghts and weaknesses implied in my learning styles, I embarked on a process of improving the ones that I already have and developing new ones. In order to do so, I adopted a realistic action plan consisting of three points in order for it to have far-reaching effects rather than ephemeral ones. Knowing that I am a very auditory learner who benefits from hearing and externalising ideas, a pragmatist learner who wants only the desirable results, and a theiry-alienated learner who doesn't adopt theories or frameworks to apply in real life, I applied the following steps.

1- I have completely benefited from applying the active-listening technique on both the professional and the personal lever. I have conducted so far six qualitative interview within each I managed to train myself not only to follow my own agenda in getting what I want, but also to know what the other person perspective is. Therefore, instead os holding a paper asking questions related to my research topic, I was listening actively to the other person playing-back what thay had said. Exactly like a tennis game they serve and I return the ball to this court. This was done by maintaining an open-hand gesture as opposed to corrsing my hands while listening, maintaining an eye-contact, and doing repetition and asking for clarification. This has given a profound dimension to my interviews and gave the interviewees the impression how important and how valused their opinions are. Not to mention, that I had the confidence of the other person while all of them said that thay had lost track of time and even thoroughly enjoyed the interviews. Applying active listening has helped me grow professionally as a researcher and earned me respect of the respondents and friendship of many of them as they are real persons and not subjects in an experiments. I can say that this technique was the most rewarding one! This takes me to my second point:

2- Because I have never believed of adoting theories and theoretical backgrounds to my real life, I decided to directly connect these to real life. Therefore, I deved into qualitative research books and suddenly I had an epiphany, a plan of what to do, and a way of doing it. I reas very well the pronciples of conducting interviews, research methodologies and people's expected reactions and feelings! For the forst time in my life, I was able to apply my note-taking and organisation skills to draft a plan while I was reading. Then, I refined this plan and made use of my peer-feedback and team working skills to get my friends feedback on my semi-structured interviews. Although I got very harsh criticism, I didn't mind because I knew that it was honest and came for my best interest. Honestly, at some times I am scared of my ability to elicit all this information and personal details wspecially that I started applying this on my acquaintances and friends. However, I realised that this is maybe due to my enjoyment in using a new skill and my awareness that now I can take written theories that I had a static perspective on and apply a kinaesthetic practical application for these in my real life in a systematic way which takes me to the last point.

3- For me, applying this pooint was the last difficult because not only did I have to make a fixed schedule, but I also had to stick to it. However, I found later that I don't need to apply things in a specific order, but I would better do things according to the mindset that I had in the sense I would do the tasks that I feel more like doing. Thus, the result was having a schedule that made me more committed and taught me how to better prioritise things in order of importance and I continused setting out close goals, breaking out huge tasks into smaller ones, and do very monotonous tasks on stages bby varying my learning styles. As a result, I found myself achieving my goals gradually, but with less pressure and more effieciency. For example, I say to myself well I have an interview today so I will read at least this article before the interview and transcribe part of the previous one so I don't get burnt out. On some days, I feel like doing nothing, so I take a very long break bearing in mind to do even part of the highly persistent task on this day.

I guess in the end putting all these three points in action empowered me and gave me more confidence in making the right choices and trusting my own abilities whil I have better awareness and knowledge while I am applying these.


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  1. Han-na Cha

    Hi Sam,

    This is a really powerful reflective account on how you have taken a risk with learning some new skills, trying them out and developing yourself, with some very exciting results. Congratulations with the success of your interviews and a good reflection as to why these active-listening techniques were successful.

    It is obviously a new thing for you to make a schedule and stick to it! and it’s great to read that you have been modifying your approach so that it suits your style but that you still maintain the discipline of a schedule. A good example as to why the Kolb learning cycle of action-reflection-theory-planning is so powerful in developing YOUR skills.

    I hope that you will continue to apply these skills and also feel empowered to develop some new ones. You have completed the blogging requirements for the P1 workshop and I look forward to reading your final entry.


    30 Jun 2011, 14:29

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