May 30, 2011

Final Review of my Warwick Skills Portfolio

Follow-up to Follow up to P1 War Skills Development Wrokshop from Samantha's blog

On completion of my Warwick Skills Portfolio Award I would like to reflect back over the six workshops I attended and assess how my original action points went.

The Warwick Skill Portfolio has been an enriching experience, not only has it encouraged me to develop further skills, in academia, career planning and personal development but it has also enabled me to reflect on the skills I already possess.

Final evaluation of my SMART* goals:

1.     My first goal was to improve my assertiveness and communication. As I have previously stated in previous blog entries attending the Effective Seminar Participation was the key workshop in helping me to work on this goal. More broadly, however, I have gained the confidence through completing the whole Skill Award program and with each workshop I attended gained a little more assertion each time. My communication in seminars and through my academic writing has also improved and is reflected in the improved marks I have received.

2.     My second goal to improve my academic writing has also been effective and as said above this is reflected in my improved essay marks.

3.     My third goal of gaining knowledge about how organisations work and commercial awareness was a goal which I had to modify at the end of my process. This was due to the workshop on commercial awareness not being run within the time frame of completing my award, therefore I attended the organising myself and time workshop instead. Whilst I didn’t manage to attend the commercial awareness workshop I have done my own personal research into my field of interest and with the knowledge that it is helpful to gain some commercial awareness before entering a company for employment I will over the course of my time at Warwick work towards improving this skill.

4.     Finally I endeavoured to become more self-aware. I think this goal has been met throughout this process. Through attending each of the workshops I have been able to evaluate and reflect on my own personal development and skills base and have also reflected on my personal values and what is important to me. Undoubtedly I have increased my self-awareness and hope to continue this in the future.

Using the SMART model to set my goals has enabled me to achieve them. Being able to set a specific goal as well as set a time period for completion is a skill which I will take forward after this process and apply to other goals in life. Through completion of this award I have gained valuable knowledge and experience in organisation, academic writing, personal development and self-confidence. All of the workshops I attended in some aspect will aid me in life after Warwick and have given me a foundation of skills to build upon through the course of my career.






May 15, 2011

Follow up to my C1 Careers Planning Workshop

Follow-up to C1 Career Planning from Samantha's blog

Admittedly I have not posted an update for my C1 Careers planning workshop until now. This is primarily due to the fact that only at this time do I feel I can reflect on my action plans. As career planning takes a period of time and cannot be completed over night I hope that my late entry will be acceptable.

Firstly I want to reflect upon my first action to apply for work experience that will help me gain relevant skills. Recently, through an advertisement on the Comparative American Studies Careers Facebook page I found some relevant work experience at a local museum in Warwick. This work experience is voluntary however provides me with the opportunity to gain some valuable skills. Firstly it involves researching through achieves for information regarding soldiers in World War I and II. Secondly I am able to interact with the public and help with general enquiries and finally there is the possibility for me to be involved in the IT side of running the museum and its link to up and coming social networks.

M second action point was to use my work experience effectively and try and gain the most out of it that I can. My time, so far, at the museum has proved very beneficial and had given me some guidance about what skills I need to improve in order to pursue a career in the research field.

Thirdly I hoped to research my chosen career path of the Civil Service and gain some commercial awareness towards the government as an institution. Last week I was fortunate enough to attend an information evening regarding the area of the Civil Service that I want to enter. Through this event I was able to ask questions and gain knowledge about the job itself as well as the lifestyle of living in London. At the end of the event I was also able to network with the representatives and talk one on one about working within the government.

Not only did the Careers planning workshop give me pointers and direction regarding the stages of guiding myself towards a career path but it also helped me instigate these stages and move forward with the planning process. It is very easy to sit back and put it off thinking I have abother two years here at Warwick. The truth is that the sooner you start your career planning journey the more time you have to explore what really matters to you and what you want in later life. For me, through the work experience I have gained and the event I attended I am certain that I have chosen the field I wish to enter and so I can move onto the next stage of my planning and begin to research job vacancies, practice my interview technique and practice the application process.

I would encourage anyone to attend the C1 Careers planning workshop as although I said in my last post that it was not quite what I expected in the end it has guided my past two month, encouraged me to act and given me two valuable experiences.

March 22, 2011

Follow up to P1 War Skills Development Wrokshop

Follow-up to An Introduction to My Skills Development and Warwick Skills Development from Samantha's blog

It has now been around eight weeks since I attended the P1 Warwick Skills Development workshop and want to use a key aspect of the workshop, reflection, to look back over the past term and see how I have put my action plans into use and developed my skills.

My first action point was to develop my assertiveness and communication. My main problem was not being able to communicate effectively in seminar and I wanted to attend the P5 Effective Seminar Participation to gain some advice on how to change this.

Upon completing the workshop, as you will read in my blog post “Effective Seminar Participation (P5)” and “Follow Up For My Effective Seminar Participation (P5) Workshop” I was happy to report that not only had I learnt some valuable tips in confidence building and communication skills with my peers but I have also put these into effect over the past eight weeks to great effect. I can happily say that my skill in voicing my ideas and gaining the confidence and assertion to do this has definitely improved.

My second action point was to improve on my academic writing, to help me not only during university but also when I get a full time job and need to use my writing skills to do reports and assessments. Firstly I think that by completing the Warwick Skills Portfolio and writing blogs such as this one will be helpful in itself, but I did also want to attend the A3 Academic Writing for Arts and Social Science workshop to see what specific tips I could glean for my university essays. This workshop was fantastic and has enabled me to fully understand what it is to write an academic essay. I am now confident in knowing the process to take when approaching a piece of written work and have also seen a rise in my university grades improving by up to ten marks on some essays.

Thirdly I wanted to gain some commercial awareness. This action point is one which I have yet to work on in terms of attending the workshop, as it has not been at a time I can attend yet, but I have been able to take points from the C1 careers planning workshop and do some of my own research into the area I want to work in upon graduation from Warwick. Whilst I have not perhaps gained as much as I hoped I would by this point I am still committed to attending the workshop next term and hope to benefit from the speaker.

Finally I wished to work on my general self-awareness. Through this blog and the Warwick skills portfolio award I have been able to reflect on all the workshops I have attended and to reflect over the skills that I have gained and knowledge that I have taken forward into my academic and personal life. I have met new people and exchanged conversations with students at Warwick who I would otherwise not have met. I have also gained the confidence to attend talks and presentations and learnt to help myself to gain the skills I need for the future and not to merely expect to be ready for a graduate job without any personal effort.

The P1 Warwick skills Development workshop has benefitted me greatly and all I can say is that I wish I had attended it in my first year and begun this journey of skills development sooner. Although luckily I am on a four year degree course and have plenty of time before graduation to develop my skills further and take the opportunities Warwick University has to offer its undergraduate students.

March 12, 2011

Follow Up For My Note Taking and Speed Reading (A1) Workshop

Follow-up to Note Taking and Speed Reading (A1) from Samantha's blog

Having had a couple of weeks to put the techniques I learnt from the Note taking and Speed Reading workshop I want to reflect back and evaluate how these techniques have aided my learning.

Firstly it is impotant to say that I benefitted greatly from this workshop, learning different ways of taking notes and how to use my time effectivly when reading and note taking from lectures, seminars but also research books.

The primary techinique I took forward was to organise my notes effectivly, and this was my first action point. Another participant in the workshop suggested colour coding and tabbing to keep note oganised and tidy. I took this on board and now have neat, organised and ordered notes which I can look back on during my revision periods.

My second action point was to use techniques of note taking that had been disscussed in the workshop and to apply them to my notes during lectures and seminars. I am now using different colours to highlight areas of the course that I am unsure of and also thematically ordering the lecture to make it easier for writing essays and assessed work later on.

Thridly my third action point was to avoid re-writing my notes in order to make them neat, with my new techniwues I find that my notes are much neater to begin with but I have also spent the time I would have re-writing them on my essays and other assesed work.

This workshop will continue to benefit me throughout my academic learning and most importantly through the exam period next term.

March 02, 2011

Follow Up For My Effective Seminar Participation (P5) Workshop

Follow-up to Effective Seminar Participation (P5) from Samantha's blog

In the past few weeks I have been able to put into practice the skills I gained from the Effective Seminar Participation Workshop.

My first action point was to incorporate my body language and actively listen to others in my group. I have found that by appearing more confident in myself I have engaged with others and seen that they too have more confidence when discussing research areas.

My second action point was to use language cues to encourage others to engage in the discussion. By using phrases such as "What do you think..." or "Does anyone disagree with me?" I have actively gone forward to invite discussion. This has worked really well and has given the seminar more purpose and direction. I find that I gain more from my peers and they are more willing to share their research with me. Overall this has probably been the most beneficial change for me and by extension for the group as a whole.

My third action point took care of itself in some respects. My tutor made aspects of the seminar more interactive and tactile by bringing in artifacts from the specific region we were discussing. This made the interest for the subject matter immediately increase and provided more relaxed casual conversations between the seminar members about the artifacts.

Also on this point my other seminar tutor divided up the work load between students and gave each individual a specific area to look at and discuss in the next seminar. This worked really well and meant everyone had to contribute their research to the group.

Overall my participation in the workshop opened my eyes to how small changes can have a big effect on the atmosphere in a group. I particularly liked seeing how by feigning my own confidence meant others also followed my lead.

Follow Up For My Academic Writing (A3)

Follow-up to My Views on the Academic Writing Workshop for Arts and Social Science Students (A3) from Samantha's blog

It has been a couple of weeks since I attended this workshop and I am pleased that my writing as improved and that this has been reflected in my academic grades.

My history essay gained a 62 which I am very pleased about. I feel that this workshop gave me a clear strucutre and process when writing essays and the information I gained has enabled me to improve as an academic student.

I was able to take the comments forward and apply them to my other essays which I hope will also recieve a 2:1.

I am hoping that higher grades are also reflected in other essays I write and that I can continue to achieve 2:1 classifications in my assessed essays and examinations at the end of the year.

I am pleased that I have achieved what I was hoping to in attending the workshop it has been very beneficial to my work.

The Politics essay which I specifically mentioned in my intitial blog has still yet to be marked but I will update this blog when I am able to with the grade I achieve in that particular module.

C1 Career Planning

I recently attended the C5 Career Planning workshop and want to review the session in close detail.

My initial understanding on what the session would entail was slightly different to the actual aims and objectives of the workshop. That isn’t to say that I did not gain valuable information about how to begin my career planning it is merely to say that I will take the ideas brought out in the workshop further to tailor to my needs.

Having said that the session gave me some general avenues to follow to research my particular career interest. I also learnt more about how to gain relevant experience and specifically whether the skills I know I possess are right for the career path I have chosen.

At the beginning of the workshop the cycle of career planning was shown, with the start beging to evaluate yourself and your values, then to research into career paths and finally to gain relevant work experience. I think that I was already at the final stage of this cycle and whilst the worksheets on finding out my personal values cemented my initial thoughts on what I am like as a person I did feel as though I needed to focus more on the work experience aspect of my planning stage.

I have to say that I did learn some interesting things about my personality, and the skills set I currently have. Through the worksheets I explored myself and reflected what values I look for in life and what I would look for in a career.

Quite refreshingly I found that the values I have would match my desired career path of the Civil Service and that was quite reassuring.

In terms of action points, I want to continue on my cycle of career planning that was discussed in the workshop. My next stage would be to continue gaining the relevant work experience needed to be able to show my dedication to improving my work experience and to show interest in the career path chosen.

Therefore I want to set myself three action plans:

1.      To apply for work experience that will help me gain relevant skills

2.      To use my work experience effectively and try and gain the most out of it that I can

3.      To research my chosen career path of the Civil Service and gain some commercial awareness towards the government as an institution.

February 01, 2011

Note Taking and Speed Reading (A1)

This was another workshop I took in order to develop and progress in my Academic writing action point. To be able to read text both throughouly, effectively and quickly is an essential part of academic learning.

This workshop taught me to structure my notes effectively and group discussion was used to share ideas on how to file and organise notes taken, what to note down and how to get the key information from a text in the quickest amount of time.

My three action points upon reflection of this workshop are:

1.      1. Organise my notes

2.      2. Use the different note taking techniques discussed in the workshop and apply them to my current tactics.

3.      3. Use the time I would usually spend re-writing notes and making them neater to read further texts and do essays.

When originally I thought this workshop would tech me ways to “cut the corners” on note taking and reading, in the end it showed me techniques which not only allow me to read quicker and in more depth but also to take notes effectively. Instead of cutting the corners I am able to manage my time more effectively and assess key notes rather than copy down everything.

I hope to take these action points forward over the coming weeks and see how much I can improve my noting and organisation skills for more effective academic work.

January 31, 2011

Effective Seminar Participation (P5)

I attended this seminar in order to work on my first action plan that I made from my CORE skills workshop:

1.    My first key skill which I wish to develop is my assertiveness and communication. Currently I find it hard to bring my opinions and viewpoints forward in seminars and have the confidence to voice my research and ideas. To begin my process I will firstly attend the Undergraduates - Effective Seminar Participation (P5). By attending this I hope to gain pointers in how to organise my thoughts and communicate them effectively and confidently to others. To measure my progress I will try and participate more in seminars and put more points forward week after week.

This workshop helped me to understand a little more about how my body language and behaviour can affect the behaviour of others around me. Part of communicating my thoughts effectively starts from the offset when I enter the room and commerce with my peers. One point that our workshop leader, Bev, discussed with us was that simple communications skills such as smiling and talking with peers in an informal mannar can help build confidence when it comes to presenting ideas.

I am going to base my first action point on this idea. I hope to get to know my fellow students who are in each of my seminar groups and to open up a little bit more towards them in order to be confident when putting my ideas forward. Through my body language I want to appear confident and open,as well as letting others know I am approachable, I also hope this will help me to activly listen to others and get more out of my seminars.

Further elements of this workshop also helped to give me an idea of how to communicate with my peers and invite them to join in the discussions and share their opinions. Simply asking others to contribute directly and use phrases such as “what do you think about that..” means that I am actively seeking their input into the discussion.

Thus my second action point will be to directly ask my peers to debate my points and ask for their opinion on the subject. Whilst this may seem like a small change I feel it will enable me to gleen more information from my peers and make my overall seminar experience more productive.

On the idea of having a productive seminar, which is something which will futher enhance my academic learning, I want to discuss with my seminar tutor how to perhaps structure the seminar in order to gain the most from it.
Therefore, my third and final action point is to talk to my tutor and discuss ways of encouraging more participation from myself and my peers. Also  to discuss how to structure the sharing of ideas perhaps with smaller group presentations or deligating certain areas of the reading to certain people so collectively we can report back the information we learnt.

Overall the workshop gave me confidence in myself and taught me that even if I’m not feeling confident on the inside that I can still show, through my body language, confidence and assertiveness which will help me to gain the best from my seminars.

To summarise my three action points are:

1.    Incorporate the body language learnt to actively listen
2.    Use the language cues and invite others to discuss points raised
3.    Finally I will discuss with my seminar tutor how to remodel the structure of our seminar to gain maximum productivity.

January 25, 2011

My Views on the Academic Writing Workshop for Arts and Social Science Students (A3)

I recently attended the A3 Academic Writing for Arts and Social Science Students in order to work on my second Action Plan of progressing in my academic writing skill.

I found the workshop very useful and will definitely be able to apply the techniques I learnt in future academic essays. The most useful aspect of the session was looking into the processes of writing an essay and these processes broken down in stages. Not only will this help me to plan my time better but also help to approach and structure my essay more effectively.

This week I applied the skills I learnt to one of my historical essays and will await the marks eagerly to see whether I have achieved a better grade from just one session.

Following on from this session and to continue progressing and improving my skills I will take up my tutors invitations for further discussion on previous work and apply the criticisms to future work. Within my Politics module specifically my seminar tutor has arranged a short workshop to discuss how to approach political questions and how to access the higher mark brackets. I will be attending this workshop in week five.

Most importantly this workshop gave me the understanding behind the academic writing process and the confidence to apply what I learnt to my own work.

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Most recent comments

  • A very good final reflective account, Samantha, to round off your Warwick Skills Portfolio Award. Yo… by Mary Sage on this entry
  • This is a good concluding blog to follow up the actions you have taken since the workshop. It is und… by Sue Johnstone on this entry
  • A great final entry for P1, Samanatha. it's really good to see how the whole reflection process has … by Mary Sage on this entry
  • Sam – nice concluding summary of A1. It sounds like you've taken a lot away from this workshop, that… by Han-na Cha on this entry
  • Your first blog is comprehensive, although I would be interested to know how the actual content of t… by Sue Johnstone on this entry

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