August 11, 2013

Final entry on the WSPA

Workshop Tutor: Han-na Cha

First and foremost, I am very happy to have been blogging until this point and so happy that I have seen myself until the end of the WSPA. There have been ups and downs trying to finish the WSPA award, many times I procrastinated to blog, and felt like giving up when I had so many deadlines, but I knew I couldn’t quit halfway and had to keep pushing, I am therefore very glad to be at this point writing my last blog post on the WSPA.

I have really learnt a lot from all the workshops and as I mentioned in one of my blog posts, had I done my undergraduate degree here at Warwick, or was I here for a longer period than one year, I would have definitely loved to attend more workshops that I did not get the chance to attend this year. For example, the critical thinking workshop, the career planning workshop and the learning strategies workshop. I think these would have been really useful to me and very beneficial. But, at the same time, I am very happy I got to attend the workshops that I did, I have seen my progress throughout the whole year and I feel like I am in a much better place as a person than when I started.

Another useful thing I will take away from the WSPA is the act of being reflective, I find it as a sort of therapy when I look back at what I have done and write about it. Even though I am no longer going to be blogging about the WSPA I will begin reflecting on other things of my life because I have thoroughly enjoyed that. Two years ago, I used to keep an online blog but sort of stopped that and I feel that its time I got back to doing it.

Blogging for the WSPA has really been beneficial to me, more than just the individual workshops I have done but also other things I can take on further in life. Its always good to sit down alone for a while and reflect on your life, be it what you have achieved or what you want to achieve in the future. Being honest with yourself where no one is judging you is really therapeutic and you can always look back in the future and see where you have come from. So reflecting for me is something which I have really found useful to me.

I will highlight the key things I have learnt from all the workshops.

Organizing yourself and your time: I always used to be late to everything before, and was not really organized in my academics because I often got distracted by social media such as facebook, Twitter or Youtube. By attending this workshop, the most useful thing I took away was to identify your time stealers and work on them. I am also a big procrastinator, something I am working on till this day, and I came to see how putting off studying really wastes a lot of time. When you sit to read then you think you will first make a cup or tea, or go on Facebook for 5 minutes...etc, the time is quickly wasted and before you know it the day is over. I have learnt to better manage my time and do what’s important at the right time. It’s good to prioritise all you have to do in order to be really organised.

Being Assertive: I attended this workshop because I found sometimes I found it really hard to say no to people, and the fact that sometimes I was really reserved and didn’t really open up as much. I wanted to learn how to attain self confidence in myself and be able to stand my ground without being aggressive. I wanted when people see me, their first impression of me they can know I am sure of myself and aren’t afraid to speak my mind. I found the workshop really useful in helping me know the steps towards achieving that. I learnt how to get used to the sound of my own voice, how to remain assertive even when other people just want to argue. Being assertive is a life long lesson.

Speedy Reading: My reason for attending this workshop was so that I could read faster. I felt over whelmed when I started a masters program in a subject I was not really familiar with, and therefore knew I had to walk the extra mile to read widely and do well in both my exams and essays. I learnt many techniques in this workshop such as softening my gaze, cutting out my inner sub vocalisation and using fixators while reading. It was a good experience for me to think of reading in a different way than I was used to.

Reading and Note Making: I attended this workshop to help me learn how to make better notes while I am reading, I often go through so many articles when I am reading and wanted to learn how to put all the different information together in an organised way. I learnt techniques such as mind mapping and using timelines. I have used these when working on my dissertation and I am glad I learnt them.

Academic writing for arts and Social Sciences: After my undergraduate, I didn’t want to produce the same type of essays that I had been doing before, I wanted my essay writing to improve and be at par with masters level standard and that’s why I attended this workshop. The most useful things I took away from this workshop was learning how to plan for any academic work, being critical and also using all the links provided in the workshop to aid in essay writing. I am very happy to report that I have achieved great results in all my essays and therefore very pleased with this workshop and the fact that I attended it and learnt from it.

Getting Started on the Warwick Skills Portfolio Award: This workshop put everything into perspective and all the workshops that I need to do. My undergraduate university did not have this sort of thing and I was happy to find it here. I wanted to achieve something else from Warwick University apart from my degree, I wanted to develop my personal as well as professional skills and I believe I have done just that.


August 10, 2013

Final entry on Getting started on skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio

Workshop Tutor: Han-na Cha

Looking back at the whole year, although it has been a challenge, and sometimes I felt like giving up on blogging due to the amount of work I had from my course, I kept pushing myself and I knew I could not give up no matter what. From October last year, i have been able to attend 6 blogs in total, including this one and those are;

1.Speedy Reading

2. Reading and Note Making

3.Being Assertive

4. Organising yourself and your time

5.Academic Writing for Arts and Social Sciences

I am happy that I have been able to blog about all these workshops and in my final blog entry I will detail how each has impacted me and my life. i am really glad I decided to take on the WSPA and the only sad thing is that I was not able to attend all the workshops offered on this programme, if I had more than one year in Warwick, I would definitely have made a point of attending all available workshops because they really are useful.


Final entry on Speed reading

Workshop Tutor: Han-na Cha

As from my previous blog posts, this workshop has really been very useful to me in my academic life. On this final blog post, i thought it would be important to look at my first blog and see what I had set out to do and not what sort of progress i have made since then.

I had made the following action points

  1. I will practise speedy reading using online websites every day for at least 5-10 minutes. The best way to learn something is to keep practising and I intend on doing that to help speed up my reading. I am currently at 300wpm and hope to increase this by my final blog entry.


FOLLOW UP: I tried to keep up with this action point as much as I could, to practise as often as i could, there were days where i was not able to practise due to the fact that i was reading for exams, or writing essays but generally I tried to keep up with this. I have been using free online software available on the internet and on the last test I was able to read a total os 4787 characters at 2260 characters/minute.

2. I will read avoiding fixators. I actually tried this when I got home after the workshop for an assignment i had to read and for the first time I actually finished a chapter in one sitting, (taking small breaks every 30 minutes as was suggested). And more than just speedy reading, i actually understood what I had read and did a couple of test questions to gauge how much I had understood.


FOLLOW UP: I noticed that when i avoid using fixators, i tend to be more alert and therefore can understand the information quicker instead of focusing on each and every word that I come across.

3. Another thing I found useful from the workshop that I will definitely work on is softening my gaze as I am reading therefore I can read a number of words at a go as opposed to one word at a time. I believe this will improve my speed reading as I will be reading blocks of words faster than taking time to read each and every word, some of which are not that important. It is crucial to just look out for the main key words and concentrate on these.

FOLLOW UP: Same as the point above, all these techniques of speedy reading have really been helpful to me and I have enjoyed learning new ways to read and some things I would have never thought of or learnt had i not attended this workshop such as softening my gaze, or cutting out my sub vocalisation. I never realised that some practises we each do while reading actually slow down our reading without us noticing, and it is only when these are pointed out to you that you begin to notice them and try to change.


Overall, I have found this workshop really useful for me in my academics, I think back to the time when i had just started my masters and I had so much anxiety thinking about all the materials I would have to read but I am glad i have managed great. Looking towards the future, I intend to get into the journalism field, so this workshop will also be useful then because journalism often involves reading widely when researching for a story, and faced with the tight deadlines to deliver a story at the end of the day can be quite daunting.


Final entry on Reading and note–making

Workshop Tutor: Han-na Cha

On my final entry of Reading and Note Making;

This workshop has been really useful to me like the others have been. its the last workshop i attended and I attended it for the reason that i wanted to learn how to better organise my reading and note making. As i noted earlier, I usually used to copy whole chunks of texts and by the end of it I have pages and pages of notes that I have to go through to write my essays, i therefore wanted to learn some techniques that would help me learn how to organise my notes better and my readings.

The workshop was a little different from what I expected as it was a both masters and undergraduate workshop and on that particular day there were only 3 masters students and more than 10 undergraduates, therefore most of the issues that were tackled were about reading and note making in class, but as the masters students noted in the class they wanted to learn how to read and make better notes for essays and dissertations.

Despite this I was still able to learn some useful techniques such as mind mapping and also the difference between skimming and scanning. I thought this was really useful because I realised I don't have to read word for word everything that is written when I have so many journals to read, but for some of them I can either skim or scan depending on their usefulness.

Overall, a very useful workshop that I would recommend to other students.


Final entry on Organising yourself and your time

Workshop Tutor: Beverly Maynard

Organising myself and my time is a workshop that will be very useful for me not only now that I am a student but also when I finish university and get into the work sector and throughout my whole life. I realised when I did not pay attention to time and how to organise myself, I ended up appearing disorganised, forgetting quite a lot of things, and always being late to almost everything. With managing my time better, I feel more control of my life and more sure of myself and what i intend to do.

I had set out four action points that I intended to work on by the time of my last blog, and in my previous post I talked about 2 of these, in this post I intend to follow up on how I have been getting along with the other 2.

1. I had sent out to organise myself better by noting down all that iI intended to do in my day the night before in order to avoid forgetting about it. I learnt that this is really effective as opposed to before where I would just try and convince myself that I would remember everything that I needed to do, but that was obviously not the case because I ended up forgetting so many things. Despite making short time plans and goals of my life, I have also started making more significant goals for my life and what I aim to achieve in the near future. That's not something that i have ever done before, but putting my goals and dreams on paper made me feel better and i feel more determined to face the future with a rough idea of where I want to be. So this workshop has not only helped me in my short term goals and plans and how to organise myself but my future as well.

2.Since on this workshop we had touched abit on being assertive, I had decided to attend that workshop, which I did, and I have also learnt so much from it. I have learnt to come out of my shelf and not be afraid to speak out for myself but also learn the fine balance between being assertive and being aggressive and arrogant.

Overall, this workshop was something I greatly needed in my life and hence why i chose to attend it, it has not been smooth all along, i have had ups and down, trying ot keep up with writting in a diary, and having to fight off the old habits coming back in. I am not perfect in time management today, but i believe i am in a much better position today than I did when I started.


August 09, 2013

Final entry on Reading and note–making

Workshop Tutor: Han-na Cha

On this entry of the reading and note making post, I thought I would reflect on the other action point I had set out to do.

I had planned to try mind mapping, especiallly in doing my dissertation. When I started the plan of my actual dissertation, I realised it would be a good idea to try and map out the structure of what I intended to do on a diagram as I thought this would be easier for me to know how to plan my work and by simply looking at the figure I could be able to tell what exactly I wanted to do.

My dissertation is not a traditional dissertation but its more of an extended essay where we are given a question we have to answer, simply put, we have to analyse the performance of a company we choose to discuss how different factors have led to the performance the company has. I thought using mind mapping would enable me to visually see all the factors I intended to analyse and how they were all going to feed into each other to sort of 'tell the story' of the company.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and its something I will use in future.


August 08, 2013

Final entry on Becoming more assertive

Workshop Tutor: Bev Walshe

It's great to look back at the whole year and see the progress of what I have done and what I feel I have achieved this far.

These are the actions I set out to achieve a couple of months ago:

Actions

  1. To begin with I need to learn to get used to the sound of my voice, sometimes we are afraid of our own voices and therefore afraid to speak up and say something. I will try to change this by involving myself in group discussions and class discussions, which I sometimes shy away from.

  2. In my everyday life I will try to be more assertive. During the workshop we were presented with a number of case scenarios and told to show how an assertive person and an aggressive person would act. This has taught me that it is not only about being assertive in the professional life but also in the day to day life. Arguments with friends or family, i also need to be assertive as assertive behaviour calms the other person down. When you both keep arguing it does not help the situation. I am trying to implement this in my life and the few times I have had confrontations since then I have tried to show assertive behaviour and have seen that when I do that, the other person has no choice but to calm down.

  3. Doing a postgraduate in Business, I have to do a number of presentations in class and I believe I can show my assertive behaviour during these presentations by standing properly, standing my ground, not fidgeting, and bearing in mind how my posture and body movements can affect what others think of me as I make the presentation. I need to be welcoming and show that I know what I am talking about, and the first step of achieving this is my body posture.

  4. My fourth action point will be to actually follow up on what i have learnt and not just forget about it after the workshop, in my everyday life I will try to remember what i learnt and also keep up writing this blog. I think the best way I can know if I am improving is by reflecting back and checking my progress as I go along and I can do this by blogging about it and finding out what i have done or what i need to improve on.


    My biggest improvement to date have been:
    1. I have come to get used to hearing my own voice, as I mentioned in my first blog, my dream is to be a tv broadcast journalist, but growing up i sometimes considered myself a shy person. I remember I once took an internship at a local TV station, and even though everyone loved my voice and was always praising me on it, I was never confident enough to let them edit my stories when there were other people in the room, and i sometimes chose to wait in queue until everyone left so that I could edit my story. i was not used to the sound of my own voice. As it is all in the mind, and I know I am very good at journalism, I have tried to make myself get used to my own voice by constantly recording myself and playing back to hear how I can improve. I am also planning on making a demo CD of the stories i have done so far and use this to apply for jobs as I am almost completing my degree.

    2. I have got more involved in interacting with my class mates in group meetings as I set out to do. I am very proud of myself for this and have noticed I thoroughly enjoy group work and interacting with other people form different backgrounds and nationalities rather than my own.

    Overall, this workshop has really been instrumental in my life and as I begin this journey of completing my masters, looking for a job and getting one, I have to implement all i have learnt because i will be faced with much more challenges than I have been faced with to date and its important to always be assertive otherwise people may take advantage of you, and it also shows your employees how confident you are making them confident in you as an employee.

August 07, 2013

Follow–up on Organising yourself and your time

Workshop Tutor: Beverly Maynard

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

This has perhaps been my most challenging workshop because it required me to change something about me which i really had a weakness in and that was time wastage.

In my previous blog posts I noted how my biggest challenge was always having the trouble of keeping time when i needed to be somewhere as well as getting distracted too quickly while reading and not focusing on what I really needed to do. i have tried to change this in two ways:

1.I avoid using social media when I am reading because I realised this was my biggest time waster, when I go online on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube, I find that a whole hour or two has passed when all I wanted was to take a five minute break. Therefore I try not to log in on social sites and if there if need to take a break, just stretching my arms or getting glass of water really helps. I used to think I have quite a short concentration span but I realised this was happening only because I was not fully concentrated and was thinking about other things as I was reading. Presently, I am able to read for a full hour with a short break in between and at the end of the day I have done more work than I used to before.

2.I always used to wait until the last minute to leave the house if I need to be somewhere, then I end up rushing to get there and I get there late but i am trying to cultivate the culture within myself to always leave enough time to leave the house if I have an appointment. This is my biggest challenge till to date as there are a number of times I have still been late but its something which I am working on and I feel slowly but surely I am making progress.


Final entry on Speed reading

Workshop Tutor: Han-na Cha


Speedy reading for me was an area i felt that i very much wanted to work on. At the beginning of the year I felt very overwhelmed with the amunt of work I had to read. What made it harder for me is that I had chosen a masters degree completely different from my undergraduate degree and therefore I had to learn new things which I had not been familiar with before. This required me to go the extra mile of reading wider than everyone else who may have been familar with the subject area, ontop of what was required of me to read each week. I often went to bed with the feeling that I had not read much, which did not make me feel good at all. Even though I would not have been doing the blogs for the WSPA awards, this is a workshop I would have attended anyway because I felt that I really needed it.

In terms of novels and light reading i considered myself to be a fast reader but reading academic journals, which have sometimes difficult language, as wel as academic books posde quite a challenge for me.

i have learnt how to quickly skim through an article to get the gist of it, or read enough articles for me to write a good essay in good time.My biggest challenge is still to cut out my inner subvovolisation but i have come to accept that and I am not looking to forward it anymore. I am at the level where I am comfortable with my reading speed and I don't have the anxiety I did when i first started the course.


Follow–up on Reading and note–making

Workshop Tutor: Han-na Cha

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

Here is how i have been getting on with my action points:

These are some of the action points I set out to do on my last blog post with a follow up on how I have been getting along with them, on the next entry I will report on the action points i have not followed up on here.

Actions

  1. 'Don't copy out whole chunks of information.' While working on essays I noticed I used to copy paste whole chunks of information that i thought were useful to use in my essay, i would save all these in one word document and as I write my essay would look for the important phrases I wanted to use. But I realised I would have so much to go through it is as if I was reading the journal articles for the first time all over again.


    FOLLOW UP: This is something that requires a lot of practise but I am definitely making progress, I realised it is better for me to understand the piece of information I am reading rather than copy out a whole chunk of text to paraphrase later, i learnt this the hard way when for the first time in my life I got a notification from my department that one of my essays was being investigated for plagiarism. The investigator said I had poorly referenced and therefore reduced my mark by 5 marks. I initially had got a distinction but on reduction of the mark it affected this. In future I will definitely not copy of whole chunks of text but will instead read to understand and then write.

  2. Another important action point that I took away from the workshop is 'Reading for meaning'. most times as you go through so many journal articles your mind sort of becomes passive and you no longer read for meaning but are just merely reading. I found the sheet we were handed out for questions to ask the text quite useful as they can help me more critical to my work and I added two more questions of my own which I will be asking the text:

    1. What are the critisims against their idea?

    2. Do I agree with their idea?

    FOLLOW UP: I have been using this as i write my dissertation and i think it is helping me be more critical and not just take the information i read as it is.By asking myself these questions I allow myself to think outside the box and therefore expand my research further.


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