The application and integration of reflective learning

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This reflective essay describes my encounter with reflective learning as a student enrolled in the Liverpool John Moore University in MBA Top Up program and the application and integration of reflective learning is included on the research proposal as an important part of conducting research study on the particular subject matter. Insights gained and lessons learnt in conducting research study are discussed.

According to Lewin and Kohler (1994), learning is mainly based on the experience integration with reflection. In simple, reflection can be defined as the thinking and analysing about the research study. A review of the literature reveals that there is no single way to define learning styles. Learning styles can be generally described as "an individual's preferred approach to organizing and presenting information" (Riding & Rayner, 1998); "the way in which learners perceive, process, store and recall attempts of learning" (James & Gardner, 1995). "distinctive behaviors which serve as indicators of how a person learns from and adapts to his/her environment, and provide clues as to how a person's mind operates" (Gregorc, 1979). In the traditional classrooms, different learning styles models, concentrating on various aspects of the learner, such as the whole personality (Briggs & Myers, 1977), senses and environmental factors (Dunn & Dunn, 1984), or attitudes and affective dimensions (Canfield, 1980; Grasha, 1984), have been studied. To measure "learning styles" various instruments have been developed that address these variables.

In relation to this research study on the effect of reward system on the job satisfaction level of the employees, my learning skills and knowledge is critically appraised along with I also evaluate how learning occurred. Here, I also try to identify how learning can be applied in future study. I am also going to describe the limitation of my research proposal and also what difficulties and problems I face on the time of conducting research study.

1.2 Selection of the research topic:

The main purpose of conducting this research study is to evaluate the effect of reward system on the employees' job satisfaction level in US Steel Corporation. The main reason of choosing this topic is relied on my personal interest. In fact, my previous educational background was on the business study. I completed one or two module on human resource management subject. Since that time I feel interest to do study on the subject of human resource management. In before, I have completed a research module on the program of Post Graduate Diploma and my topic was the application of motivational techniques on an organization. That's why, for the purpose of making research proposal, I take the topic of effect of reward system on the employees' job satisfaction level in US Steel Corporation. In fact, I am very much interested to do my PHD on the subject of human resource management and conducting research proposal on job satisfaction is my initial step.

1.3 Appraisal of own learning and Application:

Deciding that I would explore reflective learning on the topic of job satisfaction was the easy part. Writing an action research proposal proved exhausting. For 8 weeks, I changed, amended, improved, reformulated, reworded and uncluttered my draft proposals through constructive criticism, critical reflection, dynamic discussions, integration and constant feedback from peers, mentors and course coordinators. I learnt some precious lessons about practicing Kolb's learning cycle including: read widely but utilize the literature in a refined and synthesized manner to focus the intervention, implement changes in a course / an area that you have control over, keep each educational intervention simple and specific, design the intervention with an action plan in mind taking into account available timeframe, workload and other commitments, justify your intervention including the aims and objectives, the methodology, the data collection and analyses, consider the need for ethical clearance early and think ahead in terms of publication potential, reiteration of the intervention and future research possibilities.

One particular way in which I used my reflective learning statement was to keep a record of "interpersonal reflection" i.e. suggestions and feedback from teacher and colleagues regarding my work and learning, what I did or will do in response to these suggestions and ideas for the future.

1.4 Learning style:

Learning is a characteristic of our species. We all learn, some better than others, some faster than others. The way in which we learn can vary. Kolb defined four main styles of learning (Experiential Learning Prentice Hall 1984):

Concrete experience - feeling - having the experience

Reflective observation - watching - reviewing the experience

Abstract conceptualisation - thinking - concluding from the experience

Active experimentation - doing - planning the next stage

These four styles also form the points on the circumference of the learning cycle.

The Kolb model of learning sets the styles round the perimeter of a circle. The process of learning is complete if the learner passes through all the styles.

The complete learner possesses the ability to pass through all the stages with equal facility, but most people have a preferred learning style. The style is preferred or dominant not exclusive. We each enter the circle at the point of our own preference and move according to our needs and circumstances. In some instances, the learner just learns in the one style and sees no need to move. In medicine, this would be difficult, but not impossible.

The work and publications of Peter Honey and Alan Mumford have produced a method of exploring the individual's learning style (The Manual of Learning Styles, P Honey an A Mumford, P Honey Publications, Maidenhead 1992). The questionnaire published in the manual enables the learner to determine their learning style, compare their results with the accumulated results of many thousands, and explore their preferred ways of learning. When describing the styles they use the terms activist, reflector, theorist and pragmatist, corresponding with Kolb's concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualisation and active experimentation.

Completing the learning style questionnaire enables the learner to select the method most suited to their preferred style. It will also enable them to make the most of that style, and from the basis of success, develop their other styles.

For effective learning to occur, a learner needs to feel comfortable with the method, a personalised plan with the method tailored to the preferred style is likely to achieve this. In relation to the Kolb's learning style, I take the style of Active experimentation - doing - planning the next stage. For the purpose of ensuring that the necessary time is met by the research, project plan is designed through Microsoft project where all tasks of the research study is broken into some small parts.

References:

Anderson, G, Boud, D. & Sampson, J. (1996), Learning Contracts: A Practical Guide. Kogan Page, London.

Atkinson, E. (2000) Behind the Inquiring Mind: exploring the transition from external to internal inquiry. Reflective Practice Vol. 1 No. 2, pp 149-164

Beardon, T. (1995) Peer-assisted learning and raising standards. In Goodlad, S. (Ed) Students as tutors and mentors. Kogan Page, London.

Bleakley, A. (2000) Writing with invisible ink: narrative, confessionalism and reflective practice Reflective Practice, Vol. 1, No. 1, pp11-24.

Boud, D. & Knights, S. (1999) Course design for reflective practice. In Gould, N. & Taylor, I. (Eds) ÎReflective Learning for Social WorkÌ, Arena Publishing, Hants.

Bourner, T; O'Hara, S; Barlow, J. (2000) Only connect: facilitating reflective learning with statements of relevance. Innovations in Education & Training International. Vol. 37, no. 1, p 68-75.

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning & development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

McGill, I. & Beaty, L. (1995) Action Learning: A guide for professional, management and educational development (second edition).Kogan Page, London

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