The original spirit of critical reflection is to discover the core indicator to spark a phenomenal, event, explanation, etc. Being a critical thinker means that person should always attempt to ascertain original factors impact to the context he is influenced or the concerned situation then preparing appropriate method when confronting similar circumstance in the future. The cumulative nature of this extensive awareness no doubt could enhance insight and competence regarding the aspect insisted. Rigg & Trehan (2008) implied innovation could be achieved as a consequential effect deriving from critical reflection: ""critical reflection is the process by which adults identify the assumptions governing their actions, locate the historical and cultural origins of the assumptions, question the meaning of the assumptions, and develop alternative ways of acting". Therefore learning journey's quality is only incremental within crucial supporting role from critical reflection. This report is indeed a personal reflective analysis upon the project conducted in "community impact practice" module as well as delineating the achievement after completing MSC course.
Reflection on planning and execution of the project
Choosing the topic
Initially, the passion to create a better life for children was the core reason behind the author's decision to involve into junior unit. The manager initially expected to conduct sport activities such as football, basket balls, etc. aims to relax children after long study hours. However, the project was supposed to be infeasible after careful consideration. Firstly, physical nature of playing sport hinted potential risk of being injured to children, especially the hyperactive ones. Not every child was interested in joining physical education was another concern because forcing them to participate into this kind of activities would be unethical and illegal. In addition, a meaningful program was expected in every community meanwhile playing sport only carried modest effect to children in term of relaxation. As a result, author determined to pursue the course which could contribute to children's success over their future education.
After spending reasonable time to research, music was an optimum topic given its impact to human development. Beside that, improving necessary skills for children through an academic music blueprint would rather address the issue originally than focusing on narrow mission such as assisting them to solve a particular exercise, etc. The next challenge lies on constructing an effective music related program in order to achieve essential skills for the kids.
Author is primarily confused about whether formulating the proposal within active or passive approach. Active approach means teaching the children to perform a particular instrument while passive one referred to creating affiliated activities based on listening songs. Nevertheless, initiating a training class on instrument's instruction was soon conceived as infeasibility. Time inefficiency was the first inconvenience because executing such program really consumed considerable duration whereas the projected was constrained within six months. As a result, the achievement after completing the course was unlikely able to reach expected quality. In addition, Author's incapability in performing instruments meant I could not involve directly into the program. This lack of interaction with participants would hinder Author to understand crucial factors toward children's progression. Economic issue was other difficulty since cost of hiring instrumental player was not inexpensive. Finally, children were expected to be patient, hardworking if the training class was undertaken meanwhile not many people had this passion at such age so the risk of being unsuccessful was fairly high. As a result the passive approach was the optimum option in this circumstance.
A proposal of listening music program had been formulated. The overarching aims and objectives were all explicated in this writing. In general, by utilizing the effectiveness of music through structuring consequential exercises after listening songs, some crucial skills including imagination, coordination, concentration and patience were probably conceivable. The proposal was structured according to eight criteria which were organization, project, rationale, stakeholder assessment, work breakdown structure, resource, outcome and impact. Nevertheless, the proposal's presentation had been initially refused by head of subject and supervisor. After analyzing this approach and did comparison with other students, the overly theoretical bias throughout the proposal was believe the core reason of this disapproval. Because of this ambiguous explanation, lecturers were really struggle to capture the core intention that presenter wanted to impart.
During the analysis of rationale, benefit of music towards human development had been overwhelmingly promulgated. Instead, other crucial factors to support the decision making including personal opinion, the reason to choose community were absolutely overlooked. Devoid of clear content since the begging steps explained why lecture could not understand what the author was going to do with his musical program. The severe lack of detailed plan in work breakdown structure further consolidated reason to refuse my first proposal. Albeit aims and objectives had been set plainly that was to help children expand numbers of skill, an unequivocal scheme of how to practically enhance them had not been recommended. All of this typical ignorance had been corrected appropriately in the second proposal.
The new proposal encompassed plain construction via careful explication regarding practical sphere in each criteria. The imprecise content of the previous proposal had been replaced by clear intention and general guidance on possible activities since the introduction. Personal opinion and community's supporting structure were also incorporated aims to consolidate project's feasibility. Project's sustainability was properly controlled by establishing suitable tactics based on reflection of stakeholder assessment which comprised of community, participants and parents.
Moreover, work breakdown structure (WBS) was also hypothesized meticulously so it was undoubtedly able to provide a transparent instruction of how to amplify each skill for children accordingly. Firstly, scope of project noted how many children would join the class as well as their age. Whereas all information about class schedule via adequate activities, timetable were available in "time & place" delineation. Academic songs were adopted aims to ensure its content is suitable to class's atmosphere and children's age. A lesson was typically classified into three periods which were listening, songs' explanation, reflective practices and being proceeded respectively. First part in the lesson was listening two academic songs, this might also considered relaxed time as well as chance to improve concentration when children were almost immerse in melody. On the other hand, lyrics' explanation would support children's imagination and coordination toward songs listened, the essential competence expected to deliver in drawing section in reflective practices.
In addition, rehearsal was repeatedly performed before doing presentation again in order to deliver transparent langue throughout the communication. Finally, project supervisor was convinced and acknowledged to proceed.
Applying to a community was not as a simple process as early supposed. Indeed, all emails sent to community were incurred non reply. Perhaps the reliability issue was main factor to these refusals. Therefore, direct communication approach was implemented aims to persuade communities' principals the benefits project would carry to participants and community if it was allowed to execute. Direct communication through telephone, offline meeting was critical solution since its straight interaction would be a catalyst towards principle's decision given more precise perception about Author during the conversation.
As a result, the project was welcomed by several communities and Thong Kheng Student care centre was chosen because of their precise expectancy when opening this unit which was to appreciate moral spirit, age of children and appreciation of art courses. Creating a supporting structure for children's overall development is their main objective. Moreover, centre also attempts to foster children's innovation by appreciating art, craft and music in their daily program
The class was scheduled on every Tuesday and Friday at 9 am, whereas travelling from home to Thong Kheng community consumed more than one hour. Long journey via early timetable means project forced Author an adaptation by adjusting sleeping time to earlier occasion on previous day. In addition, the advancement of information technology had impacted author's decision in regard to method of collecting resource. Despite online chase was initially preferred, lack of availability, utility had deterred its appropriateness. In contrast, teaching materials (academic songs for kindergarten) would be pursued conveniently at CDs shops. Consequently, final decision was offline purchase.
In addition, class was supposedly managed by implementing two traditional leadership theories which were behavior and situational leadership. Contemporary approaches, for instance: transactional, charisma, transformational, etc. would be inappropriate given children's current cognition and course' low complexity. Behavior leadership was invented in University of Michigan, Ohio. Initiating structure and consideration were two components of this approach. The former emphasized task orientation, discipline on exerting influence to subordinates' performance while consideration preferred expressing care, encouragement to subordinate. Situational leadership was the model developed by Hersey & Blanchard. The theory had introduced a clear guidance on how to utilize behavior of consideration and task orientation upon particular situation. There was a positive correlation between employee's competence and consideration and reverse connection with initiating structure. As a result, the complement of situational model and behavior theory would deliver extra quality given their clear guidance on how to behave effectively.
However, theory was not always correct during running this project. According to the situational theory, once children understood songs' content profoundly, project should give them freedom to structure their drawing and became more consideration by offering them motivation. In contrast, some children sometime lost their interest in doing reflective practice even being encouraged by Author. Their performance would only be improved once manager was more disciplined and addressing quality issue of their pictures. For instance: a student was required to perform again after doing a careless drawing. Manager then provided a detailed instruction on how to create basic features as well as appreciating when that child ascertained new idea. Afterwards, the child soon regains his intrigue towards task.
The atmosphere was fairly formal in the first few lessons because the relation between teacher and children had been at beginning stage. It was an advantage to acquire their obedience in term of doing exercise but their hesitation to discuss concerns with manager would deter quality of their work. Therefore, communication skill had been utilized to achieve participants' reliability. Once relation was optimized, manager began to further insist on task orientation since some children lost their concentration when they were accustomed to teacher. Nevertheless, better relation would be a determinant to build up their confidence on performing songs.
Some valuable information which would benefit assessment on children's ability was gradually revealed through reflective practices. Participants' typical thinking was ascertained by examining their reflection in drawing section. The prevalent though would be categorized into two prevalent though that were creative and structural. The structural students preferred to create crystal clear features in their plays and ruler was their favorite tool. In contrast, creative children often crafted the picture by their hands via developing further possible surrounding scenes. The structural participants were appreciated by their logical thinking but encouragement to extend their work beyond what was recommended in songs' content no doubt consolidated their coordination and imagination capability. Creative children were clever to hypothesize colorful scenarios alongside basic features.
Sections hypothesized in proposal were also amended to enhance its suitability. According to proposal schedule, participant must listen two songs first prior to do their reflection. Nevertheless, the young age of these participants did not allow them to receive large content within short time. As a result, children were allowed to perform drawing after listening one song.
In addition, common phenomenon was that children had much better assimilation by providing them lyric after completing listening. Behavior of extensive task orientation was then implemented through listening activities. Consequently, it not only improved their listening skill, the concentration and imagination also became better.
Reflection on impact and outcomes of the CIP project
Theory into practice
As explained above, behavior theory and situational model were applied to influence performance throughout the class. The voluntary nature of project and young participants means the operational process was not as complex as it normally was in business context. Instead of applying complicated modern theories, these two traditional methods would be much more appropriate selection. Insight on effective behaviors was amplified by behavioral descriptions researched in behavior theory. However various scenarios in term of practical suggested a universal behavior approach was perhaps impossible to responds all variable circumstances successfully. Consequently, situational model was complemented to strengthen its effective flexibility by structuring a clear guidance upon preparation of typical situations.
Behavior theory & consequential reflection
The theory was developed by university of Michigan, Ohio in 1950s by collecting prevalent conducts of manager regarding various spheres. New dimension contributed by theory by pointing out influence process is not only one way interaction, otherwise the behavior is the result of multidimensional impact. Leader expresses consideration to employees not just for altruistic reason, by doing so it could also raises subordinate satisfaction then may lead to higher performance.
Yulk (2011) defined initiating structure component as "leader defines and structures his or her own role and the roles of subordinate toward attainment of task goals". In practice, an unequivocal structure had been formulated and applied to every lesson. A class was typically divided into three sections via setting careful task instruction for both Author and participant. Class manager was responsible to carry the CDs and have permission to require concentration from children during listening section. Song explanation was the second phase in a lesson. This section was considered as an intermediary step prior to conducting reflection. Manager offered explication of new words and meaning of each sentence in lyric to children during this interval so their insight pertaining to song's content was undoubtedly consolidated as well as delivering additional quality to reflective exercises.
In final section, participants were authorized to perform their drawing based on their understanding. However minimum standards had been discussed before the operation aims to incorporate basically sufficient features mentioned in the song. Beside that, managers reserved the right to interrupt activity to any individual. This involvement was central in preserving quality of plays or even the whole course because impact of individual reasons such as impatience would ultimately lead to careless exercises. Consequently, a clear expectation regarding how to construct typical features could help students overcome their weaknesses.
The abovementioned activities fairly accommodated Yulk (2011)'s opinion, he believed "effective managers concentrated on task oriented functions such as planning and scheduling the work, coordinating subordinate activities, and providing necessary supply , equipment, and technical assistance". In term of coordination, children are encouraged to exchange their perception, offering assistance during explanation and drawing phase in order to have a more comprehensive view. A child could either describe or outline an object (recommended in the song) which his peers never saw was a typical example. Performing songs altogether within authorizing specific tasks to each group was an opportunity to raise their team work's ability.
Consideration is the second typology in leadership behaviors. "The leader acts in a friendly and supportive manner and shows concern for the needs and feelings of subordinates" (Yulk 2011). Subordinates' satisfaction on job is amplified by improving relationship between two parties. As a result, this behavior is mutually supportive to side of task orientation especially in term of increasing commitment level for a more effective outcome.
This aspect also contributed dramatically when it was utilized to raise overall spirit in class. Participants were really confused whether they would capture whole song's meaning before immersing themselves in the first section (listening). This issue was tackled by expressing confidence on their ability from class manager. Their confidence further strengthened by individual discussion with manager during explanation period. Manager always expressed his concern on which features did participant struggle to understand. Additionally, any innovation either on crafting extra objects in drawing exercise or in teamwork activity was recognized by publicly appreciation.
Situational leadership and its consequential reflection
The above model gives a transparent instruction upon behaviors should be expressed accordingly when superior is in typical circumstances. A variable called maturity determines whether consideration or task orientation is insisted in a particular situation. This dimension implies subordinate's capability in terms of fulfilling their assignments. According to the model, manager emphasizes overwhelmingly on task behaviors when employees are extremely immature. The bias of initiating structure is gradually balanced by consolidating relationship when employees are more capable.
In practice, class manager always focus on task during the first two sections when student's understandings was unambiguous. This behavior usually involved asking student for their concentration when listening songs, careful explication of every sentence in the lyric, illustrate unobtrusive features, etc. Once children capture whole song's meaning, behavior shifted to encouragement, recognition of their innovation in reflective phase. Indeed, this approach was useful to influence participants' effort positively but it was not applicable to every individuals. Although some children initially was not interested in doing exercises, their attitude altered to much optimistic after being motivated by manager such as expressing trust on their ability, appreciation their plays, etc. Nevertheless, several children continued to do their picture carelessly even being supported by many consideration behaviors. Instead, the result would only be improved when manager imposed more disciplined attitude to these children.
The second phenomenal indicated situational model was not applicable to all cases especially in reflective section, perhaps this is engendered by the contextual dichotomy between where these voluntary participants involved and genuine workplace environment (salary, seriousness, etc.)
Reflection on outcome
Although there were several targets had been planned to achieve before initiating the course, relaxation was an indispensable determinant influence directly to the expected quality in class. Whether expected achievement would be actually fulfilled depended on how well children were intrigued towards tasks, whereas there probably was a positive correlation between relaxation and participants' satisfaction, a crucial component would generate better effort.
Consequently, sense of relaxation has been carefully considered since the first section. Music CDs for kindergarten were purchased in a well known Academic CD store to make sure songs displayed were appropriate to children age. Indeed, it perfectly accommodated the expected spirit during this phase (listening section) when all children experience the class joyfully. Nevertheless, it was unlikely to carry the expected results by allowing children to enjoy the class joyfully without being pressure. In the first few classes, some children were not interested in doing reflective exercises then seriously leaded to inferior quality such as drawing carelessly, interrupting other peers, etc. These reckless behaviors only eliminated once class manager expressing seriously strong sense of discipline as well as becoming task orientation bias. Disciplined gesture was then recognized as important as relaxation since it enforced participants the essentiality of at least reaching basic standard in their plays.
Since the project was specially designed to benefit the children by growing them numbers of essential skills. Concentration was first target in agenda because it laid the foundation to achieve other competences. After completing the course, children concentration level was intensified regarding simple activities involved in the first two sections. This competence was continuously exhibited in singing via lyric during their reflective exercise. However, the concentration was deteriorated when they struggled on drawing usually referred to increasing level of difficulty. Perhaps the young age was the factor to inhibit their success on acquiring an absolute concentration upon reflective exercises as expected.
The second objective was to enhancing coordination skill for children which ultimately reflecting to quality of their imagination exercise. The assessment of this cognition ability would be classified into three hierarchies. At the primary level, participants would only capture the song's meaning after being explained in the second section via further guidance on constructing the picture. Sign of progression to second ranks comprised of the ability to generate an abstract scenario promptly after finishing first section and formulating an unambiguous perception once the second section completed (song explanation). Finally, competence to master a clear scenario for the picture immediately after listening was perceived as highest level and also the skill expected to achieve after completing this course. Despite there was an obvious progression in coordination skill, the scope that initially desired was not satisfied. Despite tendency of suggestion upon sketching pictures gradually become less frequent, almost members indeed struggled to completely absorb song's content until the availability of lyrics. Age issue was again believed as a factor to hinder their further improvement since all class members were among five to seven year old.
Nurturing patience for children was satisfied by creating a convenient context to generate their passion. The positive relevance between passion and patience implicated once children became more intrigued toward reflective practices, their commitment of doing exercises was also amplified accordingly. As a result, songs' topics were usually accustomed to children's current cognition to sustain their interest during final section in a class. Additionally, children were even expected to maintain their patience even incurring difficult task after completing this program. However the tendency to give up was predominant once they were assigned to reflect abstract aspects in a strange song's topic.
Impact and future implications
Participants were the first group benefited from this project because some crucial skills for further development had been progressed. Typical competences contained patience, concentration, coordination were critical to children cognitive process as well as establishing supporting structure to obtain better assimilation throughout their educational path.
Undertaking the class was also an opportunity for author to practise communication skill, leadership by regular interacting with community and children. Exchanging information to these key stakeholders also drive manager out of comfort zone as well as increasing his confidence when joining public activity. These characters would be vital for professional development such as adaptation, career advancement, etc.
Participants actually showed signs of improvement after finishing this course, therefore parents might expect continuity of this program in the community. In return, community would expand their reputation by delivering additional quality to their service deriving from popularizing reflective courses.
Overall reflection on learning journey
Critical reflecting and auditing personal knowledge and expertise
"MSC international hospitality leadership and management" not only built an insight of theoretical aspect in global management sphere, this academic course also insisted the necessary of practical application by inserting this factor to author's researches, projects.
Valuable knowledge had been collected regarding couple of crucial aspects at corporate level such as human resource, long term strategy. Management term is not belonged to narrow scope of controlling a particular decision, it is rather a strategic methodology to carry sustainable growth to organization based on decision making process and exerting influence effectively to peers, subordinate toward achieve overarching purpose. My competence pertaining to those aspects has been really optimized after completing this course.
Moreover, overwhelmingly universal knowledge of management concept engendered career mobility for students. Despite the course title referred to hospitality industry, insight in context of management was even applicable to other sectors given similar managerial environment in modern business entity. As a result, graduated students would be adapted to various sectors regarding management function. Moreover, every module was designed within a specific range of hospitality content equipped author unique knowledge if he decided to involved into this sector.
Academic knowledge and practical reflection were two main sections involved in leadership modules. Theoretical side pointed out leadership was an inevitable credential to raise and sustain effective performance in an organization. Researching components, principles in both traditional (behaviors, situational leadership) and contemporary theories (such as transactional, transformational leadership, etc.) helped author recognize influencing people was not simply a straightway approach, it was really an art of interaction driving workforce to contribute their best effort. In addition, variable situation indicated the universal leadership style for every situation was unlikely. Instead, variable context among organizations means inappropriately exerting influence to subordinate would ultimately carry adverse effect to performance. Practical assignments consolidated this expression by conducting interview, observation in organizations.
In regard to management modules, Introduction of theories via attachment of contemporary issues to organization especially in the hospitality industry revealed the analogy between sustainability and consistence development. Academic aspects liked corporate social responsibility, strategic management, etc. critical reflection practices in the context of past, present and future were extremely useful to illustrate how sustainability was revised, formulated and maintained.
Module "community impact practice" supplemented additional quality to the course because concept of critical reflection had reminded author the essential of critical assessment of knowledge during the learning journey by re examining, evaluating academic insight on a regular basis. Moreover, conducting the CIP project engendered great chance to practically implement couple of academic theories in the context of leadership and management. Meanwhile, compare and contrasting journals in "research method" models was indifferent to critical reflection on academic sphere.
Personal strengths and weaknesses
Analytical competence was an author's capability which gradually became better by undertaking researches, assignments in MSC course. The combination of this ability and patience no doubt brought an addition to coursework's standard since explanation were invariably contemplated carefully within proper use of academic language.
Beside that, author was able to maintain composure when interacting with crowd. This credentials and analytical skill were vital when doing presentation because proper answers would be delivered promptly after being asked question.
Nevertheless, deficiency to deliver drastic behavior led to incapability to exert influence to a team in a critical situation. This was expressed clearly in CIP project where author in some circumstance would not drive children back to performance. This was also the core factor to prohibit the applicable scale of theories implemented into project. Perhaps, some traits were naturally born and would not be occupied within a fairly short period.
As being explained above, the MSC course addresses on management context implied author would conveniently acquire a managerial position without being constrained in hospitality sector. However, low experience and inefficiency in handling drastic situation in prevalent dynamic environment meant there was still a long distance for author to reach such power. Instead of impractically expecting a respectable position in an organization, it was much more essential to consistently enhance current capabilities (which involved composure, analytical skill) critically in order to mitigate weaknesses in short term via the vision of altering them into new strengths in the long future. As a result, applying for junior positions to a business entity was prioritized aims to accumulate sufficient competence to capture long term ambition.
In conclusion, author gathered valuable experience by planning and undertaking CIP project in the sign of critical reflection. Concept of reflection facilitated personal development as well as enhancing project quality through insisting deeply on core determinant resulting to lower than expected target. Thus, a fundamental structure was engendered to supportively ascertain more effective alternative solutions. In addition, there was always a distance between academic and practice due to either human or contextual variability. Finally, despite insight of management and leadership had been dramatically optimize, the academic bias indicated that author must consume considerable time of critical reflection in junior positions to alter these knowledge into practically useful competence.