All entries for Monday 28 May 2012

May 28, 2012

Further Follow up on an Introduction to Academic Writing at Masters Level

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

1. I will remember to remain passive in my writing style to display an evaluative and critical approach to my arguments in essays.

I continue to make a conscious effort to remain passive in my writing style as previously discussed. Therefore, I'm now moving my attention to remaining active and engaging in my critical thinking as I move into writing my dissertation. As this is the first extended piece of writing I have done at 15,000 words and more than just a critical literature review or practical lab write up, I'm also paying careful attention to the structure of such work. Utilising chapters and case studies to break the work down into manageable sections. I'm also looking to further my understanding by joining workshops on 'reading and note-making at Masters level' and lectures on dissertation writing for Masters.

2. I will include more precise, articulate language and avoid vague, broad vocabulary such as 'interesting' and 'good' to maintain an accurate and concise academic style.

By making the conscious effort to avoid broad wide sweeping statements and vocabulary I hope this will continue to encourage a deeper, critical understanding and appraisal in my work. This has also helped me to open up new and original lines of enquiry which I can pursue as I ask more questions of the data and understand the interrelations which will shape the direction of my dissertation on Vaccines.

3. I will try to critically re-read and revise work if necessary and include a wider perspective or purpose for the work in my conclusions.

By managing my time effectively, I hope to be able to complete initial drafts of sections of my dissertation and take the time to critically re-read and revise where necessary. I also have further written module assessments due in the next couple of months, so maintaining this work effort in parallel will be a priority of mine. The use of wider concluding perspectives, as previously discussed, has also been of benefit to my understanding and learning as relating the context of my work to real world, wider implications, highlights and solidifies the importance of such work in my mind.


Further Follow up on Working in a Team

Here's a summary of how I'm getting on with my action points

1. Try not to avoid my least preferred roles ('implementer' and 'specialist') and improve on them by working closely with these kinds of team members, in order to learn from them and make these roles more manageable.

From my academic group work so far, one of the roles which I have noticed is often most neglected is the monitor evaluator. There are always plenty of co-ordinators or leaders willing to direct team work and a general group drive to get on with the tasks set. However, on one occasion rushing into the tasks set meant an area of the presentation we were to cover was missed. Luckily, after taking a step back and evaluating the work we had done so far with the guidelines set, we realised and corrected the hole in our presentation and avoided the problem noted in other group presentations. Although some of the information we were expected to find, concerning specific drug upstream and downstream manufacturing and clinical trial development was difficult to find due to market sensitivity, we were still expecting to generalise instead of avoid these areas. Therefore by re-evaluating what we had done with the tasks given as part of a monitor evaluator role, we avoided missing details some other groups were penalised for.

2. Continue to emphasise my strengths in team work by co-ordinating, promoting discussion and exploring multiple opportunities.

As a co-ordinator, naturally associated with leadership, I enjoy stepping into this role and as previously discussed joined the Warwick Leadership scheme to further develop this attribute. As there are a lot of large personalities on my course it is often not necessary to single out a leader in particular. However, if I'm part of a group with less dominant or driven personalities I like to encourage discussion and bring out the best contributions from everyone in the group. Understanding the roles which relate to the Belbin's theroy has definitely helped to at least begin to delegate work more efficiently, such as give the 'completer finishers' the job of proof reading the final seminar slides and letting the 'plants' generate our ideas. Whereas 'co-ordinators' like myself and 'monitor evaluators' take a step back to keep the bigger picture in mind. In my most recent group work, we decided to split the slide requirements equally so each person generated 5 slides related to the area of the topic we each volunteered for. This was probably the best example of delegation that worked well and again as co-ordinator I volunteered to integrate and format our final slides. This approach however does require trust in the other group members to complete their contributions on time and to a good standard, but as we picked teams and were already close friends, this is much easier to do than working with a group of new people. This approach also helps to encourage ownership and responsibility for completing the work delegated on time and to a good standard and this was proved as we scored a distinction.

3. Understand that I will not get on with everyone or understand their methods but accept these so called 'allowable weaknesses' in order for the team to be happy and productive.

Fortunately, since my second assignment, I have not had many other experiences of tension within a group. I know as I prefer to be a 'team player' that I clash with 'shapers' who are not afraid to step on people's toes to get things done. Nonetheless, as a discussion raised in Leadership scheme highlighted, is labelling people under such roles discussed in the Belbin theory really beneficial? Of course at first it can seem restrictive to operate under certain labels, however the understanding of these roles has for myself and many on the Leadership scheme, served as a 'framework' to understand the working styles of different people and resulted in better delegation of work and happier more productive working environments. Of course, some people still need 'pushing' or more motivation to complete their work on time due to their preferred last minute working style, but by sticking to agreed deadlines, this has helped to avoid the tension and stress this can cause among more organised individuals in my group work teams.


May 2012

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