In the last terms I attended 6 workshops for the Warwick Skills Portfolio:
• Reading and Note-making
• Speedy Reading
• Becoming more assertive
• Understanding your personality type
• Academic Writing at Masters level
• An Introduction to Skills Development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio
I would like to reflect my experiences and summarize the achievements obtained during this process of skill development in 2 facets: Academic skills and Personal skills. And I will look to some continuous development in future.
1. Academic Skills
Academic skills are what I care most among all kinds of skills. My developing of academic skills centred on academic writing. Before I attended any workshop, I could provide a written work neither clear nor structured, and I got low marks (55% on average) in the first two pieces of essay. Actually when I was in undergraduate period in my hometown, my dissertation was awarded distinguish, so I was very frustrated at the beginning. So I actively participated in the master's writing day and many other academic writing workshops, and I immediately mastered the rules of structuring which makes my article more clearly. At least the topic sentences could be found at the start of each paragraph.
After that I took the workshops of 'Reading and Note-making' and 'Speedy Reading'. I learned a more effective and systematic note-making method called 'Cornell's method'. It really benefit me a lot from then on, because I no longer simply copied the original sentences, but recorded my instant thoughts together with the original text when reading that paragraph, and the two distinct parts were organized in different areas in my notebook so that I can refer back to them easily. This saved my time dramatically because I don't need to read the original text again but directly use my own ideas in writing my essay. And through the daily practice for speedy reading, I could read much more books than before in very limited time.
When I took the 'Academic Writing at Masters level' workshop, I could provide a structured written work, but the clarity was still a very big problem, which made the reader difficult to understand my essay. To strengthen the links between paragraphs and to use accurate academic words, the workshop tutor recommended a useful website to me, which is called 'UEFAP', from which I learned how to correctly use the signalling words to consolidate the structure, and I tried to check whether the words in my essay conformed to the academic writing specification.
However due to my feeble language foundation, the score of my essay still laid on a low level. I then turned to the 'Peer-to-peer masters writing mentors' to get more advices before every submission and to make my essay proofread by a native English speaker according to the suggestion of my personal tutor. I eventually witnessed the progress in the third piece of work. The mark skyrocketed to 76%. This made me really happy!
As I feel my poor language would bring me obstacles in oral communication, I never dare to talk initiatively. When I saw the workshop 'becoming more assertive', I made up my mind to change my timid personality and to perform more actively in making friends with university students and participating in university activities. From this workshop I learned how to stand firm and neutrally as an open body language, defined the features of passive, assertive and aggressive behavior and understood being assertive is not simply in the middle of the axis but a completely independent construct. And I knew about a useful planning tool recommended by the tutor, called 'SMART' plan. I found it was very pragmatic for self management of any step carried forward and the following self reflection process. Later the 'SMART' method was employed in my making plans for each Warwick Skills workshop. And the communication tips were adopted in my solving the problem with HSBC about the withdrawal of the fixed rate saver. I practiced how to state my own needs and to stand up for my own rights appropriately, so that my reasonable benefit would not be damaged.
Then I attended another workshop 'Understanding your personality type'. This helped me to know more about my personality, my strengths and weaknesses in individuality and how to get along well with people with different personality type, especially to adopt one's good points and avoid his shortcomings so as to finely complete a group task. Through talking with more people I became more confident. I applied for the Warwick Piano Competition in March and got highly commended. This is the most exciting achievement for me beyond academics.
Warwick Skills Workshops provided a good platform for us to actively inspect ourselves, to motive the improvement of our flaws, and to guide our actions using a variety of useful approaches. In fact, successful achievements are usually made through the combination of all the possible resources. The most significant consequence of the workshops is that we understand where we can find these resources and how we can take advantage of them effectively. Attending the regular workshops constantly promotes my high inspiration in putting the plans into practice.
However, it always takes time for the good effects to appear, and 'Slow and steady wins the day.' So making solid progress is an iterative process that needs to be achieved step by step. I should keep a clear and focused mind, reflect on my actions regularly, be more patient to every success and frustration and sum up my experiences in time.