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This essay will initially provide an overview on my personality and educational background, later on it will concentrate on what motivated me to study the Masters Degree at Bangor Business School. This essay will also comprise of various motivation theories, learning styles and approaches; which will not only apply to critically evaluate various aspects of human-behaviour, also to specify the apt approaches for me. Furthermore, a group coursework will be undertaken following this assignment, thus I will point out all existing as well as anticipated issues with effective solutions. Finally I will draw a conclusion.
Study is one my favourite hobbies. The family milieu I have been raised up in could not offer a great amount of wealth but they have encouraged me for higher education. In 2003, after finishing my A-levels from Bangladesh I was admitted to 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. However, boredom caught me overnight due to luck of social atmosphere in that profession, except interaction with machines. Being an extravert person, I enjoy social interactions not only in personal life, also at work-place; want to 'work with pleasure' and eager to pursuit my imaginations in motion (Eysenck 1970, 1990).
Hence after accomplishing 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. Besides, I gathered experience while studying in Sunderland University. I conducted a short-term work-replacement at Barclays Bank Plc, where I found a social touch of mingling with new people and discovered my brilliant interpersonal and communication skills; which later on triggered 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 success. Recently I have started realising a business and 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
Based on Huczynski & Buchanan's (2007) discussion, it is a cognitive decision-making process to choose a goal and human motivation can be influenced from various discrete but related perspectives to achieve that goal. Moreover, we have born with some innate needs which also force as well as motivate us towards achieving goals. Such needs can be classified as drives which are prominent for existence, for instance oxygen, water, food, shelter, warmth, and sex. Likewise some other needs can also be categorised as drives, such as eagerness to acquire knowledge, ambition, love, and passion. These needs also can drive a person to conduct various difficult tasks. In my context, eagerness to acquire knowledge and ambition to achieve higher qualification had driven me once travelling abroad in youth; those instincts have encouraged me for an even higher qualification at Bangor for a second time.
The aforementioned concept will be made 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, as well as self-actualization (Maslow's, 1943). 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, along with who has utmost confidence and keenness to flourish his full potential in real. Therefore, my understanding was by taking an admission in Bangor University in MBA Banking and finance would accomplish my expected goal and would boom my potential at the same time.
Again 'Why do people choose to pursue certain goals?' the answer is cognitive decision-making process influences us to choose the goals, since we are purposive in nature (Huczynski & Buchanan, 2007). 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 which is such a well-reputed institution.
Finally, social influence is another major factor that motivates individuals towards a goal to achieve. Herzberg (1966, 1968) discusses on how satisfaction influences an individual to be motivated in his job enrichment theory of motivation. In this theory two basic elements are widely discussed. Firstly, intrinsic rewards are valued outcomes which are controlled by the individual, such as feelings of satisfaction and triumph. The intrinsic rewards 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; people willingly perform those risky and life-threatening activities for their own pleasure. Same philosophy is being followed by some other individuals most of the time, 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 my expected result (for example, distinction), I will be mentally blessed of thinking that all my hard work has paid off. This precious feeling may elicit my motivation over again pursuing further academic study (like PhD) and career progression, as it occurred before selecting the Masters Programme at Bangor.
Secondly, 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. As I do not have a business background, my further career progression in banking industry was in question. Once I realised this matter I was deliberately thinking of 'how to provide' a bridge across my experience and education. This realisation firmly motivated me into taking part on an MBA Banking and Finance at Bangor University to work up the career ladder; that would offer me extrinsic rewards in the near future such as, better career opportunity, promotion, higher salary, fame and so on.
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 significant topics, at the same time argumentative as well since 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. In my context, the first day when I started at Bangor, I was unaware of the university location, locations of lecture theatres, and how to register for the course. But in a very short period of time, I managed to learn everything from surroundings and experiences.
Again people's learning styles vary, however 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. First: people gain experiences from various occurrences, second: as soon as occurrence occurred people start observing; which reflects in their mind repeatedly, third: people then start generating general concepts of that occurrence, fourth: people use already-gained concepts or experiences for future experiment. Honey and Mumford (1986) developed a Learning Style Questionnaire Based on Kolb's (1984) work. Using that research questionnaire they identified four different learning styles which also vary depending on the individual. First: activist, who is always eager to learn something new, second: reflector, who wants to take time and think about the topic before learning anything new, third: theorist, who wants to figure out the correlation between old and new concepts before learning, fourth: pragmatist, who wants to experiment the topic before learning anything new using already-gained experiences. (This is illustrated in 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 is 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. Finally I would like to explore the new topic based on my already-gained concepts in real-life scenario before learning, like a Pragmatist.
In question of 'learning approaches', there are three different kinds of approaches to learning based on Biggs (1999) and Butler's (1993; 1994; 1995) research. First: Surface approach that involves implicitly learning the fact and memorising it without understating the meaning, which often leads to detrimental results when reproduced for assessment. Second: Deep approach to learning that involves critical evaluation and through understanding of the root of the facts in conjunction with empirical concepts which someone can resolve if any different contexts arise. In a sense, deep learners always seek the meaning; therefore it offers a life-long understanding of the fact. Third: Strategic approach (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 true meanings or facts of the topic.
After completing comprehensive research I again consider myself to be an individual who learns by conducting multi-approaches. When to learn a new topic I critically evaluate the matter to understand the facts and map out how to complete the task on time to yield success. Therefore, I have come in a conclusion of considering myself a learner who learns by combining Deep and Strategic learning approaches.
Group formation and development stages
Huczynski & Buchanan (2007, p 281) explain "Group that comprises of two or more people, in face-to-face interaction, each aware of his or her membership in the group, each aware of the others who belong to the same group, and each aware of their positive interdependence as they strive to achieve their goals," Although there is no hard-and-fast rule of forming the group, it shouldn't go over more than twelve people, because the bigger the group, the more difficult it is to communicate with group individuals. Groups are mainly one of two types: Formal group, which is task-oriented and comprises an official structure with dedicated management to attain success, tends to be permanent and is used to perform company's cumulative objectives. Where as Informal group is almost opposite of formal group by definition; it is normally being formed 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. He indicated about behaviours of the group individuals based on their activities as well as how well they communicate with each other. It is very important to have an amicable environment in the group and mutual understanding among group members to complete the task with success. George Homans (1951) also discussed in his book that a group more likely to be successful if some basic factors can be considered before forming it.
Firstly: Background factors which focus on material-facility requirements, cultural diversifications, technological facilities, task regulations and budget.
Secondly: 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 by communicating with other members, have to follow certain rules and regulations, have to participate in the group with their own interest, and have to show a 'can do' attitude all the time.
Thirdly: 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 with 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.
Research by Bruce Tuckman and Mary Ann Jensen 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 are mostly occupied in problem-solving and working hard to achieve the goal on time based on the already-formed structure.
Adjourning is the concluding stage when the group may demolish due to task completion, or group individuals may join into another group for a new task.
Following thorough research on 'group' definition, formation theory and stages of group development areas, we have formed a formal group of seven pupils to accomplish the coursework. So far we have undertaken a couple of group meetings to date. We have considered various factors before forming the group are below:
Background factors which include 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 and finally, forming a mutual fund to raise money for expenses, like, photocopy, printing or travelling for interviews. We have also considered the 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 the 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. These were 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 to the next level, which is Norming stage, where we are expecting to form a mutual understanding and good-fellowship among us to gear up our activities towards the completion of the group-work on time. Our group activities will be reported more in details in the group report.
Issues in group work and effective solutions
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 therefore English wasn't their first language.
Solution: We have decided to use English at all the time with a slow and clear tone so that we can follow each other's pronunciations; which we are considering another learning point from the group work. We are also encouraging one another to ask 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, time-management, group rules and regulations, and tasks allocation and task-commencement.
Solution: At the storming stage firstly, we had selected a project-leader using democratic voting system with all group members' approval. The project leader will lead the group through out the completion of the coursework and all group individuals cooperate willingly.
Secondly, we have sketched a project-plan using Gantt chart for time-management as well as task duration.
Thirdly, we have implemented a set of group rules and regulations, which comprise of participating in group meeting on a regular basis, completing group tasks on time, keeping amicable relationships with each other. A fair treatment will be applied for all group individuals, zero tolerance will be shown of any racism or bullying activities arise in the group.
Finally, we have conducted individual tasks distributions using group members' mutual interest. Each individual has chosen a topic and in every weekly meeting he/she will perform a presentation on progress.
Issue: In question of 'how to control the group activities' and 'using leadership power'.
Solution: As 'controlling' is a vital part of the management process to motivate individuals and to achieve goals, we have given extra care to make this happen by implementing strict rules as I mentioned earlier. The leader will monitor the activities very closely all the time.
Furthermore it has been agreed that the leader will not undertake any decision without the majority of the group members' consent, as group members reserve the power to choose a new leader, if necessary.
We are also anticipating few other issues that may arise while conducting further group work, such as arranging time to interview managers for primary data, any unexpected accident or sickness, editing the report and so on. Group-report will comprise of all forthcoming issues and explanation of 'how did we deal with those issues'.
To conclude, this essay has clearly defined my motivation of taking part in the Masters Degree programme at Bangor starting with a brief backdrop concerning my family milieu, personality and ideal work-environment. Later on, with collaboration of various motivation theories, (such as, content theory, expectancy theory and job enrichment theory), a clear justification has been provided regarding my motivation. Using Kolb's learning cycle as well as learning theories I have pin-pointed my learning styles and approaches. Afterwards the essay has also comprised of group formation by concentrating on various factors (such as, background factors, required and given behaviours, and emergent or actual behaviours) and development stages (such as, forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning); which we have used to form our group for further group work. Finally, I have indicated the issues that have already risen in group work and have provided effective solutions. Also, if there are any issues arise in further group work, those will deal with group individuals' mutual decisions; all will be published in group-report with solutions.