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Self-reflection is the self-analysis of knowing oneself. This section describes the self-reflection of the researcher on own learning and performance. It facilitates the researcher to analyse his progress by considering the changes in his strengths and weaknesses. It analyses diverse learning styles theories put forward by various experts and examines the learning style of the researcher during the International Master in Business Administration course. It also describes about the various skills that were gained throughout this course. The various skills include communications skills, report writing skills, presentation skills, research skills and team player skills.
Background of the researcher:
The researcher completed his Bachelor's degree in Information Technology from Madras University, India. IT skills were learned during this period. After completion of the degree, he worked in three companies before coming to Dublin Business School for International MBA. The first two companies that the researcher worked were IT based companies and therefore, the theoretical skills learned during the bachelor's degree were transformed to practical skills during the term. The first six months in a job is the time when a new person in the job finds it difficult to get used to the job. The researcher went through this phase and the transformation was not easy. With the help of senior staff in the company, things went smooth. In the first company, the researcher got the opportunity to talk to customers all around the world through telephone, which enhanced his communication skills. He also got the opportunity train new people, which developed the presentation skills. In the second company, the researcher supported the customers through email and chat. This helped to develop the writing skills of the researcher. With more experience, the researcher was given the role of a team leader in the second company he worked. This enabled him to gain leadership skills. The third company that the researcher worked was his own family business. It was very different from the information technology companies that he worked before as this had real world experience. The researcher got a practical insight to the real problems faced by a company that did manufacturing and retailing of steel products. With the IT skills gained from previous years, he computerised the company using management information systems (MIS). This made all the process in that company faster. After gaining some experience, the researcher set plans to learn more about business and chose to get a masters degree in business administration. This is why he chose International MBA course in Dublin Business School, Ireland.
Through the MBA International programme in Dublin Business School, the researcher was able to develop the research skills, time management skills, self-learning ability and other skills. There were group works involved in the first semester of the course when helped the researcher to improve team player skills, presentation skills and communication skills. In the second semester of the course, the assignments and examinations helped the researcher to gain self-learning and time management skills. Writing the dissertation proposal in the second semester gave an insight about doing the research. Research and writing skills were improved during this period. All the work had to be completed in certain amount of time, which developed the time management skills of the researcher. These skills have been utilised now, when the researcher is doing the dissertation. The reflections of this learning process can be related to Kolb's learning cycle because of the scope of learning something new is always there. Another method of learning has also been used for the review that was proposed by Honey and Mumford.
Learning Reflection and Style:
Kolb's learning reflection:
According to Kolb (1984), "learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience. Knowledge results from the combination of grasping experience and transforming it." He described four stages in a learning cycle and viewed it as a circular process which involves the four stages which are
According to Kolb's model, the experience lays the foundation for observation and reflection, which are incorporated and condensed into concepts. These concepts are then tested to get a new experience. The cycle of activities such as experiencing, reflecting, thinking and acting occur in the learning process. There are four types of learning methods as shown in the figure below:
This is the combination of concrete experimentation and reflective observation. They look at things from various perspectives but prefer to watch things than doing things. They also tend to gather information and use imagination to solve problems.
This is a combination of abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation. These people can solve the problems and will use their learning to find solutions to practical issues. They are less focused on people and are focused on ideas and abstract concepts.
This is a combination of abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation. They can solve problems and will use their learning to find solutions to practical issues. They prefer technical tasks and are less concerned with people and interpersonal aspects.
This is the combination of concrete experimentation and active experimentation. They have the 'hands-on' technique of solving problems. They rely on intuition rather than logic. They use others analysis and use a practical, experiential approach.
During the International MBA course, the researcher used various learning styles in different situations. Assessing the researcher's learning style according to the researcher has an accommodator style of learning. The researcher uses more 'trial and error' method to solve the problems. This is a more practical approach to solve the problems even though it could be time consuming. The researcher feels that the proving things practically is better than talking the about the theoretical side of it. This enables the researcher to adapt to changes quickly to changing circumstances and allows making concrete decisions.
Honey and Mumford Learning Style:
Source: adapted fromÂ http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/experience.htm)
Honey and Mumford (2000), mentions that, the term learning style is used as a description of the attitudes and behaviours that determine an individual's preferred way of learning. According to them, there differnt of learning styles and categorise individuals into four types as shown in the figure above.
They completely involve themselves into a new experience without any previous experience. They have the attitude of trying everything once. They act first and worry about the consequence later. (Honey and Mumford, 2000)
They are very cautious and thoughtful people who like to consider all possible angles and implications before making a move. They like to stand back and evaluate the previous experiences before they commit something. (Honey and Mumford, 2000)
'If it is logical, then it's good' is the main philosophy that is associated with theorists. They integrate observations into complex but logically sound theories. They think about solving a problem in logical, step-by-step manner. (Honey and Mumford, 2000)
They always positively search out for new ideas and take the first opportunity to experiment with its applications. They are always keen to see if the theory will work out practically. They are always associated with people taking practical decisions and solving problems. (Honey and Mumford, 2000)
(Honey and Mumford, 2000, pp 11, 12)
The researcher has more pragmatist style of learning. This is useful for the researcher in making quick decisions. The researcher likes to experiment a lot and get bored with long time activities. This is why for this research; the researcher tries to practically prove the things that have been mentioned in the theory. The MBA International program has helped the researcher to experiment the new ideas practically.
Key Skills Learned from MBA International:
The international MBA programme provided by the Dublin Business School helped the researcher to develop numerous amounts of skills through rigorous academic activities. Various activities included assignments, presentations, group work, exams and finally the dissertation. The skills that have been developed through the program can be divided into two. The first one is academic skills and the second one is personal skills.
The key academic skills that were learned were Research skills, Presentation skills, and Team player skills.
Research and investigation skills are very important in terms of academic studies. It is the way one carry out the research about a particular subject. In this case, the researcher carried out different studies especially when doing the dissertation. Researcher understood about the different methods to be followed when doing a research. It was not as an easy task as the researcher had to consult the books, journals and magazines in order to find out the relevant information on the topic. Researcher also understood the importance of critical analysis, what different authors say about the same topic.
The researcher developed this skill during the class time. The researcher had to give presentations for most of the modules which he did during the semester. Even though, there was trouble in the beginning because of the stage fear, things improved after some time. This gave him the real confidence to stand in front of a group of people without any fear. This would be very useful in future in a professional field.
Team player skills:
A few modules like International business management and integrated marketing communications had group work involved. This meant that the work would be equally divided among the team members and each had to do their own part. There were team members who would not cooperate for meetings or discussions. However, the researcher found his own ways to overcome this and ensured that the teamwork was done in the end. This would be helpful in future in a professional field as all the work these days are team based.
The key personal skills that were learned were communication skills, time management skills.
A cultural shock is customary for someone who has crossed the globe to study in a foreign country, which was the same for the researcher. The researcher found the communication slightly difficult in the beginning but later improved. The interaction with the international students in the class improved the communication skills of the researcher. The interaction with the lecturers and other staff in the college helped improve the communication skill by a great deal.
Time management skills:
Time management skills are very important for a person. During the MBA course and through the dissertation, the researcher had to set goals to be achieved in a specific time frame. The researcher had to meet the deadlines for various assignments, which he did successfully. This helped to improve time management skills by a great deal.
Future application of the learning skills:
The International MBA course has helped the researcher in developing many skills that lacking before. The hard skills of finance, marketing and operations and the soft skills such as communication, leadership and teamwork will be useful for the future. The research skills that were developed during the research will certainly help in the future to choose appropriate techniques and methods. With the help of presentation skills, the researcher will be able to convince people easily. The team player skills will enable him to work as part of a team without any problems. The improved communication skills will with an international exposure will give him the benefit when meeting other people. The time management will skills will help him to do things on time. The MBA program as a whole has contributed a fair deal in improving academic and behavioural competencies. The skills acquired throughout the MBA course will definitely help the researcher in career advancement.