Warwick Skills Portfolio Award
Introductory Blog following P1 workshop on 10/12/12
Worhsop Tutor: Han-Na Cha
This workshop was all about an introduction to the award, identifying what 'type' of learner we are, in addition to trying to recognising and developing the skill of reflective learning. In particular, we noted how reflective learning was a cyclical process that centres around a continual cycle of standing back and analysing our initial action, making judgements and conclusions about the effectiveness of the initial action, then noting how I should act differently for the next time the action is to be performed. When the action is repeated, the process of reflection also repeats.
Yet one important point we took from the workshop was that reflective learning was a personal process, and had to be tailored individually to how we learn best - which depends on what type on learner we are. My answers based on the questionnaire indictated that I was a particularly strong "theorist", with moderate preferences for the "reflector" and "pragmatist" types, with a very low preference of being an "activist". This signified that, according to the guide, I "like to see how things fit into an overall pattern", I am "analytical, pay great attention to detail and tend to be perfectionist". In contrast, I did not appear to fit into the "activist" mould, hence I do not "like to take direct action", or "like to be the centre of attention".
Although it certainly felt strange to be classified into being a "theorist", I think that it was a reasonably accurate assessment - especially how I was not a very strong "activist". The result of the classifications directed me to suggestions how I would be able to learn more efficiently, such as by setting time to be methodical and exploring the relationships vetween terms, ideas and events; this seems evident as it is a process that I am about to undertake to further my Macroeconomics module revision, in which the variables used in all the different models are connected, and I believe such a process would suit me well.
However, the questionnairre also proved a tool to help identify my weaker preferences. As a "theorist", I seemingly find it difficult to learn when I lack "enough background information or an apparent purpose," I am "involved in unstructured activities where uncertainty is high," or if I am "asked to act or decide, without proper guidelines." I felt this, for instance, during the 'World Trade Game', I felt uncertain what to do, perhaps because of my style, as we were not given a clear set of instructions on the best way to be successful.
In addition, by looking at my weakest prefence of learning, "activist", I would be able to identify the areas that I initially disagreed with, and then set aboout ways of reviewing them, so that I can judge what I have done before and look at how to start new ways of improving my learning. For instance, I do not "do things because I feel like it, rather than thinking about them first", or "enjoy the excitement of a crisis situation", or "prefer to jump in and do things as they come along rather than plan things out beforehand". These seem true of me, and the workshop made me think about how I can adapt to not quite become an "activist" learner but adapt my methods of learning to try and develop my efficiency of learning and improving my self-management and self-improvement skills that can be valued by employers. By working around the group, we identified one paticular statement that we disagreed with (on the questionnaire) and looked again at actions I could take to develop. These include experimenting with 'calculated risks' whereby the fear of taking risks can be overcome by differentiating the 'silly' from 'calculated risks' - those without unacceptable consequences. In addition, there was a consensus that "non-activists" should feel a little more liberal through not sticking as rigidly to plans as they may like, reacting more to experience the feel of crises more, trusting one's feelings more as well as going past what the rules say. Although these seem tricky to achieve, as these sort of actions I would not feel comfortable actively pursuing, but small steps should be workable; particularly as these can help me develop both my confidence and intutiton as being a little more 'free' should help my overall employability.
As a result of this workshop, I have set targets so that I can develop and act on through the reflective methods we both used and learned about during the workshop, whilst bearing in mind the SMART (Specific, Measureable, Achieveable, Realistic, Timebound) objectives that were mentioned by the tutor.
- Be more instinctive
Although this is not a particularly specific goal, I hope that it will be broad enough to allow me to contribute more - perhaps in discussions or seminars - and not to worry about what others think. This, to me, has been a worry that may have limited my involvement in group exercises before, especially if I was not confident that my actions would be relevant. Despite this being a target over the Christmas break, I will try and develop being 'instinctive' at home by experimenting perhaps by cooking more, especially if I have some time that I can set aside, or perhaps by creating presents that are a little more homemade than usual. When university work resumes in January, I will try to make more of an effort to put my hand up and answer questions both in seminars and maybe lectures too - this could come in the form of asking questions too.
- Try one (or more) new activities every fortnight
As a part of adapting my learning style to include more "activist" traits, if I set a target that encourages me to try more acitivities, I may develop flexibility by being confident in changing my routine to new situations. Being at home during the holidays, hopefully this will prove not particularly difficult - especially with opportunities to help both around the house as well as with a charity that my family is connected with - and I should try to improve this flexibility.
- Reflect on my successes and failures this term
Building on the reflective learning work that we covered during the workshop, one of my targets shall be to come up with a list of five activities during the term that I took part in - academic or non-work - and judge how successful I have been at them and reflect on how I could perform better. I should hope that, through reflection, I will be able to outline the methods that led to successes - perhaps a "theorist" quality - and those that could be changed so that I would be more successful during future ventures.
- Live through a 'crisis situation'
This again is a broad and somewhat ambitious target due to it being not very specific, in addition to how crises cannot be planned for. Yet that is a part of the aim for this target - in order to practice adapting and reacting to crises, I will need to live through them as due to the pressures that can be placed upon those in crisis situations, I must learn to survive and improve my effectiveness in a crisis situation, or at least a time where pressure is significant and time is limited. Hopefully this target would improve my self-management and leadership skills for the future, in addition to being able to reflect over my actions during such a time, judging what I would need to work on should I have to act again.