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This essay will initially draw a plot on my personality and educational background, later on it will concentrate on what motivated me to study the Masters Degree at Bangor Business School comprising various motivation theories. Learning styles and approaches will indicate the way I will learn to accomplish the top achievement in the degree. I will undertake a group coursework following this assignment, thus I will pull out all existing as well as possible issues that may arise in the group work and will indicate effective and potential solutions. Finally I will draw a conclusion.
Study is one my favourite hobbies. The family milieu I have been raising up could not offer a great amount of wealth but encouraged me becoming ambitious for being Highly Educated. In 2003, after finishing 'A 'level from Bangladesh I got admitted in Sunderland University and obtained BSC in Computer Applications. In June 2006 I started my first career in a medium sized software house as a graduate IT programmer. Boredom caught me overnight due to luck of social atmosphere in that profession except interaction with machines. And as an extravert person, I enjoy social interactions not only in personal life but also at work-place; want to 'work with pleasure' and eager to pursuit imaginations in motion. (Eysenck (1970, 1990))
After accomplishing a thoughtful consideration, I determined my future career in banking sector as I always had a keen interest in the economy, the business and finance world in general. Also I gathered experience while studying in Sunderland University, from a short term employment at Barclays Bank Plc where I found a social touch of mingling with new people and discovered my brilliant interpersonal and communication skills; which trigger my intention of joining Nationwide, the largest building society in the world (History (Nationwide Building Society, 2010)), in January 2007. Since then I have been conducting various managerial roles with great successes; and recently I have started realising a business & management oriented Masters Degree qualification can gear up my career in banking sector even further.
Motivation factors to study the Masters Degree at Bangor University
According to Huczynski & Buchanan (2007), human motivation can be influenced from various discrete but related perspectives. It is a cognitive decision-making process to choose a goal; to achieve that desired goal our behaviours always force, as we born with some innate biological equipment. Such as, drives which are prominent needs for existence, which involve of having oxygen, water, food, shelter, warmth, and sex. Likewise some other needs can also be categorised as drives after fulfilling innate needs which includes eagerness for acquiring knowledge, ambition, love, and passion. These needs also can drive a person conducting various difficult tasks. In my context, alike other needs in drives category, eagerness for acquiring knowledge and being ambitious for highest qualification had driven me once to travel abroad in youth and same instinct encouraged me once again to acquire even higher qualification at Bangor.
The aforementioned concept will be clearer by Maslow's (1943) Content theory of Motivation which focuses on what goals individuals seek and then provides means to achieve those desired outcomes. Content theory describes nine different types of motives or needs, which drive individuals to achieve their goals. Those needs are categorised as biological, safety, affiliation, esteem, knowing and understanding, aesthetics, transcendence, freedom of enquiry and expression, and self-actualization. Notably, esteem and self-actualization needs encourage an individual for being confident to develop his full potential. Taking Maslow's Content theory into account, I strongly consider myself, an individual who is motivated by the influence of self-esteem and self-actualization, and who has utmost confidence and eagerness to flourish his full potential in real. Therefore, my understanding was taking an admission in Bangor University in MBA in Banking and finance would accomplish my expected goal and would boom my potentiality.
There is a proverb "taking right decision in right moment is another key element to achieve goals". 'Why people choose to achieve certain goals?' the answer will be 'cognitive-decision making process influences us to choose the goals, since we are purposive in nature'. Based on Vroom's (1964), Expectancy theory of motivation which explains individual's behaviour is driven by expectation. And expectation work in conjunction with high value of expected outcome. Correspondingly, a high expectation of achieving a top qualification as well as vast knowledge in a specific area (e.g. banking and finance), tremendously influenced me to join in a Masters Programme at Bangor University, such a well-reputed institution.
Finally, social influence is another major factor that motivates individuals towards a goal to achieve. Based on Herzberg's (1966, 1968) job enrichment theory of motivation which focuses on how satisfaction influences an individual to be motivated. In this theory two basic elements are widely discussed. One, intrinsic rewards are valued outcomes which are controlled by individual, such as feelings of satisfaction and triumph. The intrinsic reward we can obtain by performing our expected activities. For instance, some people like adventurous and thrilling activities, such as mountain climbing, Bungee-jumping, sky-diving and so on; those people willingly perform such risky and life-threatening activities for their own pleasure. Most of the time, the same philosophy is being followed by some other individuals; like, scientists, poets, authors, musicians, and painters. I totally comply with aforementioned theory in my personal context. For instance, if I can complete the Masters Degree achieving expected result (for example, distinction), I will be mentally blessed of thinking my all hard works have been paid off. This precious feeling may trigger my motivation once again to pursue myself for even further academic as well as career progression, as it occurred before selecting Masters Programme at Bangor. Two, Extrinsic rewards are valued outcomes within the control of others, such as recognition, betterment and money. In my situation, a business related Masters Degree can accelerate my career progression, and for not having a business background, my further career progression in banking industry was in question. Once I realised this matter I was deliberately thinking of providing a bridge across my experience and education. This realisation firmly motivated me taking part into MBA in Banking and Finance at Bangor University to ladder up in future career; which would offer me extrinsic rewards in near future such as, better career opportunity, promotion, higher salary, fame, etc.
Personal Learning styles and approaches
According to Huczynski & Buchanan (2007), Learning is the process of attaining knowledge thorough experience which leads to a withstanding change in behaviour. In psychology, learning is one of the most rudimentary as well as argumentative topics. Because it is very difficult to explain 'how do we learn', we cannot see what goes inside our head, but it only reflects when our behaviour changes. Also sometimes, experiences may be the means of behaviour changes. On the other hand, our understandings are in a constant state of development. We can learn things from surroundings without recognising that we have just leant. It in my context, the first day when I moved in Bangor, I was not aware of about the university location, locations of lecture theatres, how to register for the course. But in the very short period of time, I managed to learn everything from surroundings and experiences.
People's learning style varies, but there is a common learning cycle called, 'Kolb's Learning Cycle', initially proposed by Kurt Lewin (1946, reproduced in 1948), a German-American psychologist who got that idea from control engineering, which later on popularised by David Kolb (1984). This Learning Cycle comprises four correlated elements showing how people learn new things. One: people gain experiences from various occurrences, two: as soon as occurrence occurred people start observing; which reflects in their mind repeatedly, three: then people start generating general concepts of that occurrence, four: finally people use already-gained concepts or experiences for future experiment.
Again people have different styles to adopt with aforementioned learning cycle.
Based on Kolb's (1984) work, Honey and Mumford (1986) developed a Learning Style Questionnaire. Using that research questionnaire they identified four different learning styles which vary individual wise. One: Activist, who always eager to learn something new, two: Reflector, who wants to take time and think about the topic before learning anything new, three: Theorist, who wants to figure out the correlation between old and new concepts before learning, four: Pragmatist, who wants to experiment the topic before learning anything new using already-gained experiences. (See Figure-1)
Figure-1: The Lewinian Experiential Learning Model (after Kolb, 1984, p21) with the linked Honey and Mumford Learning Styles in italics (Honey and Mumford, 1986) (Learning Styles (The Higher Education Academy Engineering Subject Centre, 2010))
After researching on Kolb's Learning Cycle in conjunction with Honey and Mumford's Learning Styles, I consider myself a learner who learns using multi-styles. For instance, I am an empirical learner who mostly learns from experience and always eager to learn something new as an Activist; nevertheless I take time and think about the topic before learning, like a Reflector; then I start generating basic concepts before leaning anything new, like a Theorist; and finally I would like to experiment the new topic based on my already-gained concepts in real-life scenario before learning, like a Pragmatist.
In question of 'learning approaches', based on Biggs (1999) and Butler (1993; 1994; 1995) research, there are three different kind of approaches to learning. One: Surface approach that involves implicitly learning the fact and memorising it without understating the meaning, which often leads desultory when reproduces the similar topic for assessment. Two: Deep approach to learning that involves critical evaluation and well understanding the grass-root of the fact in conjunction with empirical concepts as someone can resolve if any different contexts arise. In a sense, Deep learners always seek for the meaning; therefore it offers a life-long understanding of the fact. Three: Strategic approach (SCL; Butler, 1993; 1994; 1995) to learning involves using an organised way to complete the task on time and achieving expected success. As Strategic learners are always achievement focussed, sometimes they may pursue the approach only to obtain the success without grasping the proper meanings or facts of the topic.
After completing a comprehensive research I again consider myself an individual who learns by conducting multi-approaches. When I tend to learn a new topic I critically evaluate the matter to understand the facts from the root level and then pursue to learn. At the same time, I map out how to complete the task on time to yield the success. Therefore, I have come into a conclusion of considering myself a learner who learns by combining Deep and Strategic learning approaches.
Group formation and development stages
Based on Huczynski & Buchanan (2007), Group comprises two or more people who have face-to-face interaction; knows each other; conscious about their membership in the group; as well as everyone is cognizant of their affirmative sovereignty as they endeavour to attain their success. Although there is no hard-and-fast rule of forming the group but it shouldn't go over more than twelve people, because the bigger the group, the more difficult to communicate with group individuals. Group mainly two types: Formal group, which is task-oriented; comprises an official structure with dedicated management to attain successes; tends to be permanent; and uses to perform company's cumulative objectives. Where as, Informal group is almost opposite of formal group by definition; it is normally form for social gatherings.
George Homans has offered a comprehensive explanation in his book The Human Group (Homans, 1951) that the environment is one of the biggest factors of the formation of a group. Here, he indicated about behaviours of the group individuals about their activities as well as how well they communicate each other; because it is very important of having an amicable environment in the group and mutual understanding among group members to complete the task with success. George Homans also discussed in his book that a group will be more likely succeeded if some basic factors can be considered before forming it. Such as, one: Background factors which focus on material-facility requirements, cultural diversifications, availability of technological facilities, task regulations and project's economical situation. Two: Required and given behaviours which focus on some essential behaviour that group members must have for working in a group; to complete the job on time group individuals must have to conduct some regular tasks communicating with others following certain regulations; individuals have to participate in the group with their own interest, showing a 'can do' attitude all the time. Three: Emergent or actual behaviours which focus on some other behavioural actions that group individuals carry out in addition to aforementioned factors; like, if group members have good interactions among themselves, they may gossip each other to remove ennui though it could be forbidden by the authority; or misunderstanding may arise in opinions among group members which can create division in the group. In summery, in order to form a well-performing group we should be considering above mentioned factors very carefully.
Research by Bruce Tuckman and Mary Ann Jensen's which suggests a formal group's development occurs in five stages (Tuckman, 1965; Tuckman and Jensen, 1977). The stages are: Forming, an induction stage when individuals barely know each other, thus they are mostly occupied discovering about one another's attitudes and backgrounds. Also they try to find out more about the rules and regulations of the task. Storming, the most hostile stage when people try to find their suitable group, try to influence others, find clashes between choice and suitability of task agenda; which may pursue conflict with the authority. Norming, the structured stage when group individuals know their allocated tasks, to perform the tasks properly they start developing a mutual trust and good fellowship among them. Performing, at this stage group individuals mostly occupied in problem-solving and working hard to achieve the goal on time based on the already-formed structure. Adjourning, it is the concluding stage when the group may adjourn due to task completion.
Issues in group work and effective solutions
After a thorough research on 'group' definition, formation theory and stages of group development areas, we have formed a formal group of seven pupils to accomplish a course work and have undertaken couple of group meetings to date. We have considered various factors before forming the group; such as, background factors which includes, arranging a regular meeting room in the university campus; choosing people from different geographical locations to bring diversity; ensuring some technological facilities, like computer, projector and flipchart; implementing a strict policy of attendance in meeting and willingly participating in regular tasks to finish it on time; finally, forming a mutual fund to raise money for expenses, like, photocopy, printing or travelling for interviews. We have also considered required and given behaviours as well as emergent or actual behaviours before forming the group. In terms of stages of group development we have just completed Forming and Storming stages. In forming stage we introduced each other, found out attitudes, backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses; also produce the agenda of the tasks as well as basic rules and regulations of the group. The hectic stage was storming stage. Although we had an organised manifesto for the meeting, group members still came up with lot of questions about how to start the task, choosing the sample (organisation) for the task, enquiries on already given rules in Forming session, leadership, task allocation, time-management and so on. In spite of all those conflicts, we managed to form a formal structure at the end to escalate the group next level, which is Norming stage where we are expecting to form a mutual understanding and camaraderie to trigger our activities towards the completion of the group work on time. Our group activities will be reported more in details in group report before the submission deadline. However, so far the issues we have come across in the group work are as follows:
Issue: Communication, as the majority of the group individuals were from outside of the United Kingdom and English wasn't their first language.
Solution: We have decided to use English at all the time with a slow and clear tone as we can follow each other's pronunciations; we are considering this issue as another learning point from the group work. We are also encouraging one another asking questions if any ambiguity turns up in the discussion.
Issue: Decision making, a crucial matter that rose in the storming stage around the areas such as, leadership, how to outset of the task, task allocation, rules in the group and time-management.
Solution: At the storming stage firstly, we have selected a project- leader using democratic voting system with all group members' approval; project leader will lead the group through out the completion of the task and all group individuals for help him out. Secondly, we have sketched a project-plan using Gantt chart for time-management as well as task duration; also have implemented a bunch of rules in the group, for instance, attending in the group meeting on a regular basis, completing group task on time, keeping amicable relationships with each other, zero tolerance of any racism or bullying activities in the group and we have decided to follow "treat others, the way you want to be treated". And finally, we have conducted individual tasks distributions using group members' mutual interest.
Issue: In question of 'how to control the group activities' and 'using leadership power' we discussed among the group for a mutual solution.
Solution: As 'controlling' is a vital part of management process and to motivate individuals and to achieve goals, we have given an extra care to make this happen by implementing strict rules as I mentioned earlier, also leader will monitor the activities very closely all the time. Again, in regards of 'using leadership power', we have agreed that leader will not undertake any decision without majority of the group members' consent; because majority of the group members' reserve the power to choose a new leader, if necessary.
In future group-activities, if there any other issues arise, those will be dealt on the merit of the problem.
To conclude, this essay has clearly defined my motivation of taking part in Masters Degree programme at Bangor starting with a brief backdrop concerning my family milieu, personality and ideal work-environment; which I have mentioned to show how those elements could affect upon someone's motivation. Then with collaboration of various motivation theories, (such as, content theory, expectancy theory and job enrichment theory) I have critically justified what motivated me for Masters Degree. After that I have drawn an attention on my learning styles and approaches using an affective learning cycle. Later on, I have focused on group formation and group development stages, as I will be taking part in a group work just after completing this essay. In group formation and development stages, I have concentrated on various factors, (such as, background factors, required and given behaviours and emergent or actual behaviours) which are very crucial elements to think about before forming a formal group. Those factors we have brought into consideration while forming our group for following group work. Then I have focussed on group development stages (forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning) and have mentioned the current stage of our group. Finally, I have pointed out the issues and effective solutions that I have already experienced while forming our group for conducting the group course work.