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By the end of this essay I seek to indicate and explain why I chose to do my masters degree with Bangor University although I had plans for the next academic year, indicating my motivations and also discuss my approach to learning in details which compares my past learning approach, my current learning approach in Bangor and also the futuristic learning approach with all based on learning theories.
I intend to discuss issues (challenges and not problems) I expect to encounter in group work and also discuss how I intend to deal with those challenges as an individual group member who has to be aware of such issues and finally tie all this issues to the Leadership role of the group.
MY MOTIVATION TO STUDY A MASTERS DEGREE AT BANGOR
I have been motivated to pursue a master's degree in Bangor by Elvis Adjei, the international student's ambassador for Bangor University all on an account where he paid a visit to my office. His motivation has come only to speed up my initial plan of pursuing the Master's programme in the UK for the 2011-2012 academic years.
I had the drive to do further studies in the field of banking and financial discipline since my undergraduate degree was also in Banking and Finance from the University of Ghana, Legon. Being a banker has been a childhood dream and as cited in Buchanan and Huczynski, 2010 on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a Master's degree in Banking and Finance will satisfy my Esteem needs. Also upon completion of my degree program getting a suitable work was challenging and I realised that I had to do more to be able to get along on the desired career wanted all my life which surely will come with incentives which for me is also good a motivational factor for me. The desire for self-respect, confidence, power, independence and freedom to be self sufficient, all these in totality really motivated me to study here in Bangor.
All plans where input for the 2011/2012 academic year for my master's since my financial sponsor who is my biological father and my employer in the Freight Forwarding Industry had to make financial preparations towards my study abroad from the year 2008 till 2011, which by a talk with Elvis Adjei has made myself and my Dad change plans for this academic year. His visit to my dad's office didn't only motivate me but my dad too.
Often dad told the entire family of eight kids of which I am the third and the first to get an undergraduate degree that he did not have the opportunity to go to the University and it was his dream and a source of fulfilment that all his children at list had a 1st degree. Now after the 1st degree, I still have an ego to be the pacesetter with now the sky being the limit and the challenge of not getting a job in the banking and financial sector also informed my decision to do my master's.
According to Cartwright cited in Mullins 2005, "a culture has the power and authority not only to determine lifestyle but also to form an individual's personality traits, behaviours and attitudes". The culture in Ghana where students after the undergraduate programmes keep "drumming" the idea that a Masters degree should be done abroad is also a motivational factor for my masters here in Bangor University.
Internalisation of cultural beliefs and values has determined convictions or predicted my behaviour towards things that will motivation me. Internalisation, Development, Identification among others as cited in Mullins 2005 from Cartwright's culture and motivating factor are a driving personally for me. In my bid to identify with what the masses or employees will seek before employment or according you the respect or room to here you talk or express you view you should have at least attained a master's degree from abroad which is a possible added advantage.
Development of myself through training and education for self improvement was necessary as starting an ideal career in the banking and financial sector needed a sort of advanced learning which after careful search and enquiry, I found out on the schools website what Elvis Adjie (2007) had said; 'the school established the first MA in Banking and Finance offered by any UK university in 1973, and was the first to offer an MBA in Banking and Finance. It has a specialist library (the Institute of European Finance) where students can source and access information relating to Banking and Finance. The school is also famousÂ for its Online databases suchÂ as Thompson Analytics, DataStream and Bankscope' thus a motivational factor in line with my life's goals and aspirations which include a desire to master an array of disciplinary knowledge and abilities, and to apply this knowledge in real-world settings. I want to demonstrate values and ethics appropriate to the Banking and Financial sector and engage in lifelong learning to improve my professional competence and practice. I seek to be highly motivated, purpose driven, and to consistently perform at the highest level relative to my colleagues. I want to polish my problem identification and solving skills; utilize critical thinking skills to recommend and select among alternative solutions, implement solutions, and evaluate the consequences. I want to have an experience that allows me to grow beyond myself and build a strong foundation for future success.
MY APPROACH TO LEARNING
Learning is defined as "a change of relatively permanent kind which may result in new behaviours and actions or understanding and knowledge gained through a formal process or spontaneously and incidentally through life experiences." Mullins 2005, p1057
My approach to learning (Sambrook, 2010) are summarised below in figure 1.
From the above figure 1 on the approaches to learning I will adopt a mix of strategies to learning here in Bangor University for my Master's programme and as well as forms of learning while here for my study. The course of study is for a year a need to combine all three approaches. My ultimate goal here is to achieve or graduate with a Distinction in my course study. Thus I will adopt a Sixty-five percentage (65%) Strategic approach, Thirty percent (30%) Deep approach and a Five percent (5%) Surface learning approach.
On the next page is a chart (Figure 2) of my learning approach in Bangor.
From figure 2 above a greater percentage (65%) of my study here is that of the Strategic approach because that's what will work out for me as a individual to complete my master's degree with a distinction taking my previous study approach an behaviour into consideration which I will discuss later. The orientation to this approach is to achieve successfully. Although figure 1 suggests the Outcome of such an approach is Variable, and its variability in my sense is positive thus a distinction in my course is s done deal.
A thirty percent (30%) of my study approach here will be the Deep learning approach. This approach I believe is time involving and it needs diligence and dedication to go by fully. The result of such a learning approach gives an in-depth knowledge of the study or learning objective. I will employ this in areas of greater interest and more especially in that of relevance to my career or study objective.
The Surface approach which is the least with its percentage being five (5%). I tend to do away with completely with this but it has formed part of my earlier learning approach with its result of only helping you in its total out come to perform badly. It is a narrow minded way of learning which will do no good in the master's programme here in Bangor University.
The chart below highlights my previous study approach to learning before enrolling here in Bangor University. I will like to state here that a great deal of this had to do with my personality profile.
Personality has an influence to a greater extent in my opinion to one's study approach. Eysenck(1973) personality type would be what I will use in describing my personality from the Nomothetic approach which tends to view environmental and social influences as minimal and personality as consistent, most of it inherited and resistant to change. With the two personality dimensions of Eysenck (1973) between Extroversion and Introversion I am an Introvert. Also between Stability and Neurotism I will say I am stable. Mullins 2005, p342-3.
Idiographic approaches to understanding an individual (like myself) is what I opt for in this case. This approach to personality profile or makeup tends to understand the uniqueness of every of every individual and the development of the self concept. It gives room for change. Mullins 2005, p342-3.
Better late than never I have had the opportunity to change my environment, which comes because I decided to study abroad, I honestly have seen the light of light in this few days here in the United Kingdom and as I perceive the future there are ideals to pick and it comes by learning,
The future by the completion of my learning here in Bangor is what I have in the figure below as I have set goals to achieve and if I fully live out figure 2 which is my approach to learning here for my Masters. This figure is necessitated because I would love to pursue a PHD here in Bangor.
ISSUES ANTICIPATED IN THE GROUP WORK HERE IN BANGOR
A group by definition is two or more number of people, who communicate by interaction with one another which is a natural feature of human behaviour and are psychologically aware of one another and who perceive themselves as such for a tasked oriented purpose or that which is more socially-oriented. (Schein, 1988 cited in Mullins 2005)
Groups could be classified into two categories being Formal or Informal. A Formal group is on that deliberately created possibly from a team or an organisation, or a society, to serve a need by achieving goals which has been set by management. Formal groups tend to be permanent and have a formal structure. Informal groups on the other hand is socially oriented or unplanned by the organisation, they possibly evolve from formal one's and mostly come about because of common interests or that of just a social belongingness and individual needs. (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010)
From the above definition of a group which infers that it is not an individual affair, it surely will have issues that have to be understood. Issues in this sense could be positive or negative and the purpose for the group amidst all that I or we call 'issues' in this case should not divert our attention from the goal but draw us closer to the object of the group work. Of a strong personal view I think people you have in a group of a matter of fact will surely want to see the group achieve its goals to the fullest.
Issues I anticipate may include Leadership issues, Goal understanding and acceptance, Decision making, Division of labour, Member participation, Listening and information sharing and also the Evaluation of member performance.
Other issues may include Free-riding, ''Sucker effect'', and Ethnic mix.
First and foremost, there will struggle for leadership as to who should lead in deliberations or how deliberations should go. Possibly we could have a situation where no one will want to assume the responsibility of being a leader. If the first case scenario where we have two or more wanting to be the leader of the group I certainly will be glad that a least members are ready and willing to take up responsibly and not for the reason of Power or Lordship where the leader might be tempted to think he/she has the final say and more so has the right to solely delegate or having thoughts of Evaluating members of the group.
The later where no one wants to lead will be a great issue because you will realise that members are already running away from responsibly or are nervous as to the success of the group.
As to how this struggle will go determines how successful the group's discussions will go. There are people who will not go for the leadership themselves but wouldn't allow others to have it easy in acquiring those leadership positions.
Secondly, I expect to face clash of ideas given the topic of discussion or task to be completed by the group. This clash comes as result of personal differences in terms of understanding of topic being discussed.
A functional conflict will be good if perceived as such with the best option finally sort to by improving one's idea or point. This will help resolve the issue of "group think", which basically highlights the fact members of the group must engage in a functional conflict and not just second ideas because not all contributions will be good.
Motivation of members of the group has been noted to be one of the most dominant issues in group work (Morgan 2002 cited in Davies 2009). Some group members may be reluctant participants in assessment tasks which they are fully aware that it will add up to their scores and be adamantly be totally uncommitted to the aims of the group and that sounds very unserious deserving of a sort of "behavioural deliverance". Social loafing and "free riding" are kinds of motivational issues I anticipate in group work. The group is faced with the problem of lack of commitment on the part of some members of the group just because of lack of interest or ideas/talents buried in them which could have the spill-over effect on other members of the group leading to general lackadaisical attitude towards group meetings, interdependence etc. resulting in the "Anything Goes" attitude which is not healthy for effective results from group works. Some of these people might have brilliant ideas which could have helped in attaining the group's goal
Groups sometimes lose focus and divert their attentions unnecessary issue in relation to the goal of the group. This comes as result of lost of concentration on the part of group members on the goal of the group.
"Free-riding" has been defined as follows: ''the problem of the non-performing group member who reaps the benefits of the accomplishments of the remaining group members with little or no cost to him/herself'' (Morris and Hayes 1997 cited in Davies 2009, p5).
"Social loafing" on the other hand is a reduction in a group member's contribution or input due to not being noticed or lack of personal belongingness to the group and also to the group's objective. Free-riding is actively obtaining reward for no effort. Thus, social loafing can lead to free-riding.
"The Sucker effect" is what happens when members of a group respond to others free-riding upon their tireless productive work in put by free-riding themselves. It sounds really absurd but an issue all the same, (Kerr 1983 cited in Davies 2009). In the bid of competent group members to try to avoid being "suckers", they make an assertion as to whether or not they are the subject of free-riding from others in the group. A consequent reduction in the input or vital contribution to a group assignment is what a member of a group will result to if their assertion is positive to free-riding is positive. Davies has shown that students will even choose to fail as a group rather than be a ''sucker'' (Kerr 1983 cited in Davies 2009). It is suggested that the sucker effect problem is the cause of procrastination in many group work activities.
LEADERSHIP AS A SOLUTION TO ANTICIPATED ISSUES IN GROUP WORK
In addressing issues I anticipate in group work from the issues I have discussed, I will take the approach of one who seeks to highlight possible and workable suggestions and theories of others and my intellectual understanding of the fact that I/we am/are in a group for a set object and in the development of the group from its Forming â†’ Storming â†’ Norming â†’ Performing â†’ Adjourning, was for a set objective and that ought to be paramount before other mutual gains which should not be self-centred but a thing worthy of praise or of a good report with all of it tied to the Leadership of the group. (Development of groups, Tuckman 1965; Tuckman & Jensen 1977 cited in Buchanan & Huczynski)
Leadership should be the pivot to addressing the issues in group work. Cited in Mullins 2005, p281, in accordance to Useem; "leadership at its best when the vision is strategic, the voice persuasive and the results tangible".
The issue of Leadership amidst different critics and theories I have studied, I am of the view that a leader should be one that, Innovates, Develops, have Membership Interest, Inspires Trust, have an Eye on the Horizon, Does the Right Thing, as Hollingsworth states as cited in Mullins 2005 which seeks to use such learned/inherited characteristics, or personality traits in distinguishing a Leader from a Manager. It has to be noted that we all in a group have equal opportunities of being a leader although there are approaches that assume leaders are born and not made.
'Just try not to be Bossy', I think it should be what I/we should have in mind coupled with a strong motivational attitude for group members and the most especially a passion to achieve the set goal.
As to who should be leader I think one should first personally assess him/herself be before opting to be a leader and also sincerely have the drive to lead the group to the top.
And when all try to hide behind the veil and not want to assume a leadership role for which other reason, I think we only have to be bold and put in our best since the leader will not only be left to do the work alone, but be challenged to come out of our shells and we sure will come out successfully as a group.
Now the leader of the group must be are of the possible issues that could arise in the group, he or she in it all must be focused and determined to get the group where it wants to go by honest, commendable exemplary leadership coupled with an effective and efficient communication where he listens to all and gives all members the necessary opportunity and attention. The leader of the group must manage communication effectively to produce its needed outcome where members of the group can be educated or ideas shared be interacting with each other.
The leader must create a team spirit around him or her which should be fused into the group where members of the group will have the intellectual ability to visualise and work together as the desired set goal or objective.
In conclusion I will say this easy has highlighted my motivations for studying masters here in Bangor University although I had planned to study elsewhere and for next academic year. Also I have discussed my learning approaches with an insight into my learning approaches here in Bangor University, before Bangor and also after because learning is progressive as other factors influence my motivations.
Issues I anticipate in group work I have clearly discussed and a use of the Leadership role as a solution to these issues. The very core of leadership is that you have to have vision, you can't blow an uncertain trumpet as a leader and so as group member who will surely someday be a leader of a group or themselves.