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October 23, 2011

Follow–up on An introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio

Heres a summary of how I’ve been getting on with my action points

  1. Start reflecting on my previous experiences in order to avoid future mistakes and make the correct decisions

    I remember myself being unable to co-operate with different people in a group, which resulted in havening a crucial impact in my social behaviour as well as in my grades during my undergraduate course. I have now realised that I should respect and consider thoroughly all people’s thoughts which has already helped me in my group work in my masters course.


  2. Commit myself into developing my academic and professional skills by attending more workshops

    I have already attended two workshops and booked places for two others during this term


  3. Further develop my self-awareness in order to be able to recognise and confront my weaknesses

    I have found out that my note-making skills are not efficient, and having attended the note-making workshop I decided to start using the Cornell method of taking notes.



October 14, 2011

First entry on An introduction to skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio

Workshop Tutor: Samena Rashid

Introduction

At the beginning of the Workshop we introduced ourselves in an interactive way, as we got to know the person next to us and we presented each other afterwards.

Summarizing what was presented during the Workshop, we got to an initial understanding of the term “reflections”, by depicting what that term means for each of us, as well as discussing why reflecting on our previous experiences is so important to our future decisions. Reflection, therefore, involves:

  • standing back and analysing an experience
  • making sense of it
  • making judgements and drawing conclusions
  • deciding whether and what we might do differentely if we were to repeat the experience

Similarly, we came to a conclusion that reflection is important because:

  • it helps you not to repeat your mistakes
  • it helps you to improve yourself
  • you can reflect and judge previous experiences
  • you can view aspects as a case study of life
  • it can be seen as an ongoing exprerience

Furthermore, we came up with the appropriate ways to develop reflective thinking:

  • memos/diaries
  • blogs
  • feedback from others
  • self-assessment questionnaire

Later on, we talked about different learning styles and skills, with a specific reference to Neil D. Fleming’s VARK model. According to the later, there are four senses for learning information; the visual, the auditory, the “read/write” and the kinesthetic one. Accordingly, Fleming also introduced the four learning styles; the activist, the reflector, the theorist and the pragmatist. Based on the model mentioned above, we filled in a questionnaire to decide in which of those categories we belong, what are our strengths when it comes to studying and decision making, as well as our weaknesses. After that, everyone of us spoke of our weak points and thought about ways of improving ourselves, by reading tips on a booklet that was distributed to us.

Lastly, we came up with various definitions of the term “skill”. In short, skill is an ability that is developed throughout obtaining knowledge and practice on a certain area, which helps you perform well in various tasks. At the end of the workshop, we answered a “skills questionnaire” in order to figure out which are our strengths and weaknesses regarding our academic skills, and received information on how we could improve by attending more workshops.

My initial thoughts and feelings while attending the workshop were quite mixed. At first I did not realize what was the point of drawing in groups the term “reflection”. But when I saw the enormous pluralism of ideas and thoughts that prevailed, made me appreciate and understand completely the concept of this method. Moreover, I had the chance to feel more socially confident as I conducted group work even if it was only a little with people I have never met before.

As far as the “40-item learning styles questionnaire” is concerned, by answering it, I explored aspects of myself that I had never thought about before. I could find myself in all of those 4 categories (activist, reflectionist, theorist, pragmatist) and, even though at first I felt quite puzzled, I then understood that this is a great thing because I can have many different learning styles. For instance, I enjoy both theoretical analysis and practice when it comes to obtaining knowledge. I don’ t restrain myself in one learning style, and I try to adjust in accordance to the situations that may arise. However, I gained extremely useful tips on how to ameliorate myself.

As regards the last questionnaire, I found out that my oral communication, networking, self-promotion, critical thinking, academic writing, reading and notemaking as well as my numeracy skills require further development and for this reason I’m confident that the workshops to come are definitely going to contribute to that.

Overall, I am fairly satisfied with what I have gained from the workshop, since it has already positively affected my way of thinking and has boosted my confidence. I also realised that even if I don’t win the portfolio award, my whole improvement will worth a lot more than the award itself.

Actions

  1. Start reflecting on my previous experiences in order to avoid future mistakes and make the correct decisions

  2. Commit myself into developing my academic and professional skills by attending more workshops

  3. Further develop my self-awareness in order to be able to recognise and confront my weaknesses

To write a follow up, go to http://go.warwick.ac.uk/skills/masters/what_we_offer/workshops/ppd/p1/blog


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