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June 17, 2012

Final entry for Warwick Skills Portfolio Award

Final entry, in which I look back over my posts in an attempt to remember what went on at each of these workshops, spread out somewhat evenly over the year. Let’s do it chronologically, and conclude at the end:

P1: I suppose this is “An Introduction to Skills Development” in the same manner as “An Introduction to Topology”, this workshop stands on its own. I feel that the things I learnt about skills development as opposed to actual skills were merely side-effects of the process - for example, setting goals that actually have benchmarks with which they can be measured (a goal that I learnt several times over across all the workshops and may even only now be beginning to stick). In short, I feel this was more… solid than the meta-skills workshop I was expecting. Then again, the best way to learn the meta-skills is through experience, and you can’t really make action points about something theoretical - “I will make an action point that is measurable” doesn’t really work. I don’t recall SMART goals being empasized here, though (I believe they were in P6) and it does seem like a rather good place for them.

A4: This was the first workshop I attended that I was able to observe a positive long-term result from - the improvement of my ability to listen (and recall) (and learn). It was also nice in that I started something and utterly failed, instead succeeding in the harder task. As a result of my failure (and other things) I got hold of a memory book, which was certainly an enjoyable (and helpful) read.

P4: This was far and away the most enjoyable workshop, and the first I was willing to actively recommend attending (over, say, reading about things on the internet)! More like active training than a seminar (in concordance with the subject matter, I rather liked (and instinctively feared) the “Did you think you’d be sitting at a desk while I lectured you on presentation techniques?”). Bev was very professional and authoritarian from the outset; this was also the only workshop (I attended) that felt like one you’d actually pay to attend. I attended this one just before the holidays so the bulk of the improvement came from the workshop itself - even with that caveat, I think the gain was comparable to months of reflection/application from other workshops - it was very concentrated, and you could see the benefit on others during the presentations given.

P6: This was where I first found SMART goals - something that would probably have helped to come up in P1 (and if it did, to be more emphasized). It was also the first in which I had an honestly negative experience from a change (or at least one that I noticed) that made me fear, for the first time, that I could be doing real damage to myself, in the same vein as being indoctrinated into a religious order, or being taught to think critically about things without being reminded that you should also apply this to your own thought processes. I found I was suppressing my own sadness (and have been for years) but I could remember the previous day, when I was sad, and then I thought “perhaps if I take myself back there, I can recall the emotion”. And so I did, and it worked, and then there I was, sitting there, feeling the weight and then the worry hit me - this suppression was a skill I’d developed, it was useful, I wouldn’t want to lose it. So I suppose this is something the health of which we’ll have to agree to disagree on.

A7: Speed reading! This was probably the second most enjoyable workshop. It was interesting in that on attending I found that I was already using most of the techniques and - to my great surprise - I found that other people weren’t. I was honestly unaware that it was possible for people to read so slowly! I was hoping to increase my reading speed because it seems like a rather useful skill, so it was something of a downer to find out that I was already rather fast. Contained the excellent quote “I wouldn’t have thought you’d do much reading in Maths” (my library card begs to differ :P). Contained an important and obvious lesson (to get better at something, do it a lot). Learning the techniques meant I was able to help one friend with his slow reading, which is always nice.

A1: Attended this one after my lectures were over, which wasn’t the best plan. Still useful, though. Found a method that seemed obvious in retrospect, which is a nice indication it’s a good one. Came with the hint to make a booklist, which is a nice thing to have. Also introduced me to what skimming and scanning actually are - and I, who could already read quickly, had a hell of a time trying to put them into practice. Was I already doing them? How could I tell? Tricky business.

The workshop that I got the most from (discounting any reflection/blogging) was P4, followed by A1. The workshop that I got the most from reflection/blogging was A4: I was able to implement a slight change that lead to a long-term improvement that’s still going. In the meta sense, reflection was also especially helpful in P1 and P6, due to the side-effects mentioned as opposed to actual progress with the plan. Overall, I’d say that the side-effects that occurred as a result of implementing the points were more important and helpful than the results of implementing the points themselves - I feel I’ve learnt more about myself, my thoughts and my actions from them.

I decided to go for it on a whim, but looking back I don’t see any better (realistic) way I could have spent my time. The investment was comparatively small for the results obtained, and I’m glad I made it.

November 16, 2011

A4: Last entry: time is up.

Follow-up to A4: Memory and Confusion from Midgley, Christopher - Pointless twaddle and meaningless diatribes

Tutor was Ceri Marriott.

The listening part went well – I can now pay attention and get something out of listening to people talk. Focusing I can even remember them standing and saying it, which is rather nice. It was surprising that something so simple took so long.

The colour/sound part of memory was abandoned – I simply couldn’t get it to work. I’ve moved on to thinking about position but it’s likely that I remember best based on something completely different I’m not yet aware of. I can remember whether we talked about something close to something else, or if there’s a vague link between them (say, the IVT and MVT are both frequently used in Analysis, so that’s a ‘link’ of sorts), but not in subjects where we do incredibly similar things for a long time (e.g. Math Stats); this positioning does help me to remember the material itself.

I find it interesting that the task I thought would be harder turned out to be the only one I actually accomplished :)

November 06, 2011

A4: Memory and Confusion

Follow-up to A4: Memory and Sense from Midgley, Christopher - Pointless twaddle and meaningless diatribes

Tutor was Ceri Marriott.

Try to remember things based on what was said, as opposed to what was written
I can now listen to people talk (hooray!). I’m still not getting much out of it, and I still definitely prefer images and words, but I can now at least get something out of a speech. Still having difficulty holding things in active memory, but I now find I can remember some of the lecture from looking at my notes.

Take advantage of synaesthesia of memory by associating words with colours/sounds/whatever – give yourself more mental hooks to connect ideas with
This one proceeds in a confusing manner – thinking back to the workshop, I can remember the colour I highlighted the words in, and the position of that on the page in addition to some of the words, but not the ones I highlighted. I’ve also managed to remember a proof fairly well, and also that I associated it with the colours blue and green, but not /why/ I did that or any other information I was trying to convey to myself. This and the above makes me think I should perhaps have focused on /position/ instead of anything else – I think that could be what I currently remember best according to? It’s rather difficult to tell.

October 27, 2011

A4: Memory and Sense

Follow-up to Effective Learning Skills? VARK! from Midgley, Christopher - Pointless twaddle and meaningless diatribes

Tutor was Ceri Marriott.

Take advantage of synaesthesia of memory by associating words with colours/sounds/whatever – give yourself more mental hooks to connect ideas with
This one has so far gone differently to how I expected – I’m remembering things based on the order of introduction and internal links instead of anything else. Haven’t really noticed myself remembering more, either. Rather odd, really. I can remember some of the colour associations I made, but not the context (which is unhelpful), and I can’t remember any of the sound ones. I was expecting this to do /something/, and least :/. I’ll keep trying it – mayhap it’s the newness of the technique.

Try to remember things based on what was said, as opposed to what was written
Paying more attention to what’s actually being said, there’s a large contrast – some lecturers don’t narrate much of anything, some say somewhat more than they write. I still don’t focus for all of a spoken paragraph if nothing is written, which is something I hope to fix, but I least I notice something else is actually being said, now.

October 20, 2011

Effective Learning Skills? VARK!

Portfolio was on the 19th; tutor is Ceri Marriott.

Completed a VARK questionnaire; can’t say I think the results reflect terribly well (5/5/9/5) – while I am good at learning from reading (and recitation!), I learn better from worked examples and the Kinesthesia score is far too low for that! I’d agree on the low aural score if not the visual – after listening to someone talk for too long I feel my attention waning.

So, points:
1. Take advantage of synaesthesia of memory by associating words with colours/sounds/whatever – give yourself more mental hooks to connect ideas with
Don’t think this one needs explanation – it’s a simple trick. Hope it works :)
2. Try to remember things based on what was said, as opposed to what was written
This is trickier – I think it’s probably a good idea to develop my aural learning style as the majority of ideas are delivered in lectures. I think I’d currently learn the same amount if the noise in the lectures themselves was replaced with a dissonant buzzing so long as the same ideas were expressed in writing. Once again, taking things in in multiple ways should aid memory.

Going to stop there – shouldn’t ask too much at once, I think.

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