All entries for June 2011

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.


June 19, 2011

Diversity of Learning Styles

Unearthing Learning Preferences

In order to make an efficient use of our learning, we should be able to determine the ways we can utilise these learning styles to the maximum. Therefore, we should not only hone these styles in isolation of others, but it is also incumbent that we develop that latent styles that we do not pay much attention to in most cases. By taking the forty items in the Honey learning styles questionnaires, I have come up as an extremely Activist and Pragmatist with corresponding nine and ten out of ten scores. Thus, I felt the need to develop the other learning styles categories, namely Theorist and Reflector or what other researchers prefer to call them ''Thinking'' styles as opposed to ''Doing'' styles.

After careful understanding of my forte points, I realised the importance to develop the other styles which were relevant to my current environmental demands within my MA study at Warwick University. I found out that I have a tendency to do things only when I see a direct application for them in real life. In addition, my enthusiasm to put ideas forward prevented me from paying attention to other people's points of views which left a gap in my knowledge as well as my social capabilities. Not to mention that I do not have a systematic way of performing an organised schedule or organising my priorities. Having realised these gaps in my knowledge and bearing in mind that gradual and focused improvement has positive impact on a person's development, I devised these three action points for my subsequent future development:

1- Because I decided to collect qualitative data for my dissertation through interviews, I will focus on developing my listening skills to get the best interactive results from the other part. I am intending to do so by applying the Active Listening technique in which we maintain eye contact, check understanding, and interact to the other person's message rather than following our own agenda in speaking. This would guarantee optimum exchange of information and engage the other interactant fully in a natural way.

2- Adopting courses of action because of their apparent applicability in real life is a useful starting point, but lacks the critical thinking that would scratch under the surface to find the underpinning theories behind these frameworks. Furthermore, they ensure a better understanding of the way they things function. Therefore, I decided to link the theories I am learning to real-world practice in order to givea purposeful meaning to the act of reading. By doing so, I will have linked theory with practice and even gained a better understanding of the plausibility of these theories in the real world. In addition, I will have acquired a learning-oriented perspective as opposed to a performance-oriented one.

3- Due to hectic study schedules and deadlines, I have always depended on my hunch and what I called ''Creative Chaos'' to achieve my goals. However, this method has not always been helpful because I have fallen short of achieving all my goals consistently without dropping one or two objective along the way. Therefore, I decided to impose a certain type of self-discipline on my studying habits in order to allocate equal time to diversed tasks and academic requirements. In addition, I will prioritise my work on tasks in a systematic way that pushes forward the most persistent demands to the front in a way that could enable me to put my mind at ease once my first on the list is dealt with. Moreover, this proioritising would protect me from procrastination from focusing on the ''Here and Now'' ot short-lived tasks rather than focusing on the long-term improvement ones.


June 2011

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  • I would like to thank you for your invaluable support throughout the whole learning process, too. So… by on this entry
  • Hi Sam, Thank you for your final entry to the Warwick Skills Portfolio Award. You have successfully … by Han-na Cha on this entry
  • Hi Sam, This is a really powerful reflective account on how you have taken a risk with learning some… by Han-na Cha on this entry
  • Hi Sam, These are good action points and I'm looking forward to reading updates on them. For no. 3 t… by Han-na Cha on this entry
  • I really wish you the best of luck with the PhD scholarship. I think you comments are extremely posi… by Austin Griffiths on this entry

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