First entry on Getting started on skills development and the Warwick Skills Portfolio
Workshop Tutor: Han-na Cha
The Getting Started workshop introduced us to the Warwick Skills Portfolio award, as well as teaching about reflection and learning styles. We took part in a range of group and individual activities over the course of the workshop. I enjoyed finding out about my learning style using the questionnaires given. I had seen the Visual/Auditory/Reading/Kinetics model of learning styles before but I had not seen the model used here. (I also felt there was a missed oppurtunity to abbreviate it to PART or TRAP or RAPT or something). I came out as most strongly Theorist and least strongly Pragmatist, with Activist and Reflector middling. Not surprising for a maths student then! I also liked hearing about good and bad learning experiences from the other students in my group, including skydiving and a presentation gone badly wrong. Not quite such a fan of drawing and sticking it up on the wall, but I can't draw to save my life!
On reflection (meaning on the subject of reflection), I think that I previously reflected a reasonable amount, but in a more natural/unconcious way and certainly without any of the structure discussed in the workshop. I feel that it can be useful as long as you don't overthink and become paralysed by worrying over what you've done. I found the structured reflection exercise interesting, but I felt that going through the list of questions provided wasn't nessescarily the best course, as several of the questions can be strange or nonsensical depending on exactly what you're thinking about. The other students in my group expressed similar concerns. In conclusion, I think that it can be useful, but you shouldn't limit yourself to the questions given or worry if you don't answer all of them.
I am going to look up the VARK learning styles test mentioned in the workshop to look into this further. I think that I will likely come out as a kinetic learner, as I find that I learn best by doing, and I don't feel like I've really learnt something until I've applied it myself. This was the slogan of several lecturers in first year: "Maths is not a spectator sport!"
I have begun to keep a to-do list, as mentioned by someone during the workshop as a way of staying better organised. I find that I often don't do things until the last minute simply because I forget about them. This goes for both non-academic (washing dishes) and academic (assignments). I've already started this and will continue with it to see if it helps me. I've got 6 items outstanding at the moment. 5 when I finish this blog post!
I will try and apply a more pragmatic approach when useful (to improve my worst learning style). I'm going to try and do this during Mathematical Biology work, as this calls for a more pragmatic style when compared with other maths topics. In particular my Neuroscience lecturer often asks questions or sets short tasks for us during lectures. This is when a pragmatic approach to finding an answer that works quickly will really shine, where a theorist is still wondering over the question.
I'm also going to try and build on my best learning style, theorist. The only box I didn't tick in the theorist category was "I am rather fussy about how I do things - a bit of a perfectionist". I tend to get to the end of a piece of work, and call it done without properly going over it before handing in. I'm going to try and improve on my work by taking more time to perfect it. This also links in with reflection on work to find errors to correct/improvements to be made, and with time management; you need time to go over and check your work, which is hard to find if you're working at the last minute.
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