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The concept of learning style has been studied by many different methods. Learning styles can be defined as the characteristics and preferred way in which a person used to gather, identify and process information (Fleming, 2001). For Kolb (1984), learning style is the process in which a person receives new information and skills. Sternberg's (2001) definition of leaning style is different from that of Kolb's and Fleming's, Sternberg defines learning style as a habitual pattern or preferred way which a person uses to do something through different activities over a long period of times. The above definitions have a common point which individual have their own preference in learning. If people understand more about their learning style, they can find a better way to learn and become a more proficient learner (Sze, 2009). It helps individual to learn new things effectively and efficiently because they understand their learning experience and know the thing which they need (Sze, 2009). I would like to use VARK and Honey & Mumford to find out my learning preference.
VARK is a set of systematic questions which initially decided in 1987 by Neil Fleming to provide an individual with an understanding of their learning preference about the way which an individual would like to take-in and give-out information (VARK, 2012). The acronym VARK stands for Visual (V), Aural (A), Read/write (R) and Kinesthetic (K) sensory modalities which used by an individual to learn information (VARK, 2012).
After I finished the VARK test, I found that I have a multi-model (VARK) learning preference. The score gap between the four modalities of VARK is very small. I scored 10, 9, 8 and 10 in Visual, Aural, Read/Write and Kinesthetic respectively. It means my learning preference is the mixtures of the four modes. The result of the report is quite accurate for me that I am going to explain the outcomes of the result with my daily life and learning experience.
When I studied in the high diploma in business administration, I enjoyed the lecturers to use different diagrams, charts and frameworks which used to describe some complex or nonobjective theories or information. For example, the lecturer used the diagram to show the components of the Gross national income. It made me to understand and receive new knowledge more quickly. Although, I would like to learn knowledge through visual way, I would not ignore the read/write category. It is also important for me to retain information. When I was doing the final year project in the high diploma, I preferred to find out the useful information from the books and internet. After that, I would note down some important information which I may use in the project. For kinesthetic category, it is also the way to help me acquiring new things through experience or practice. I had a part time job last year which I needed to install the light in different exhibitions. At the first time I joined the team, I did not know how to set the light. After the supervisor's demonstration and my practice, I could do it by myself quickly. I also like to receive and give out opinions in group discussion. It is because I can receive different suggestions and ideas when having a discussion. It give me I good chance to collect and increase knowledge. As a multi-modal preference learner, I can be more flexible to change my learning mode from one to another to meet different learning or working environment. However, multi-model learners may feel insecure by just using one preference to learn, they may need more than one mode or strategies to receive new information (VARK, 2012).
Honey & Mumford's Learning Styles Questionnaires (LSQ)
The Honey & Mumford's (1992) LSQ is first developed in 1982 which was based on the David Kolb's Learning Styles Inventory (LSI). Different from the Kolb's LSI which using abstract words, Honey & Mumford's LSQ focus on real work activities. It makes the users to understand more easily. LSQ aims to LSQ divides learning styles into four types; Activists, Theorists, Pragmatists and Reflectors.
The report of the LSQ said that I have strong preference on reflectors. It means that I will try to understand and analysis the things thoroughly before making a conclusion. It is quite appropriate to describe my learning preference. I had many different group discussions with my team members when I studied in diploma and high diploma in business administration. I rarely gave out my opinion immediately during the first meeting. I usually listened to other members' views and suggestions and then thought what they said is suitable for the project or assignment. I would collect the information from the internet and textbooks to prove my points were correct. After I considered different implications, I would give my opinions. I do not really agree that I have a moderate preference on activist in the report. I prefer to do something practically by following structural instructions. I am not easy to involve in new experience without careful analysis.
Limitation of VARK and Honey & Mumford's LSQ
According to Hawk and Shah (2007), there has not enough research to support the validity and reliability of the VARK. Fleming and Baume (2006) also said that knowing one's learning preference did not mean the person could improve its learning. It just tells us our learning preference.
The unique pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviors which an individual persists over a time and across situation can be defined as personality (Morris & Maisto, 2009). After reviewing different definitions of personality, Sadeghi, Kasim, Tam & Abdullah (2012) also said that "to sum up, personality can be defined as a dynamic and organized set of characteristics possessed by every person that distinctively and uniquely influences his or her behaviors, motivations, and cognitions in various situations." Knowing one's personality helps us to recognize 'real you' which can benefit for our further development of our potential (Barrett & Green, 2011).
Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The MBTI is a systematic questionnaire which was developed by the mother and daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs-Myers which combines the personality test, career test and leadership styles test into one (TeamTechnology, 2012). It benefits us by discovering our idea career, developing our leadership potential, improving our relationships and deepening our self-awareness (TeamTechnology, 2012).
According to the report of the MBTI test (Appendices), I have the highest personality types in ESFJ and ISFJ. The main different between the two highest scoring is between extraversion and introversion. It means my scoring gap of these two factors is very small. In my option, both extraversion and introversion are adopted in my daily life which depends on the different situations. As I mention in the Honey & Mumford's LSQ, I prefer to think something thoroughly before doing it. It meets the description of the introversion that people concentrate on a few, deep issues and think things through before acting. If I have to analyze specific issue or item. I can spend a lot of time to find out the information through different sources by myself. I will be very satisfied that I can understand the problem with my effort. Sometimes, I am an extroversive person. When I was a scout in primary and secondary school, I would like to communicate with new team members. It gave a chance for me to know more about them. The report also said that I seek to develop harmony in the relationships and promote cooperation. It is quite right that I think a good relationship of a team is very important. Every team member is valued for a team. I believe that good teamwork can help to achieve the goal effectively and efficiently.
Significant & Limitation of MBTI
Williamson & Watson (2007) point out doing MBTI test can benefit our self-understand and development. It is useful for career counseling to allow people to understand themselves and decide appropriate career plan (Kennedy & Kennedy, 2004). On the other hand, many organizations use MBTI to evaluate their applicants that it is unethical and illegal for them to screen out applicants (Quenk, 2000). It is just reflect the preference but not the ability, intelligent and chance for successful (Kennedy & Kennedy, 2004).
Meredith Belbin defines team role as a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way in a team (Belbin Associate, 2012). Belbin Team Roles has been used in many organizations over the word to identify the team role of different people within the organization (Belbin Associate, 2012).
Belbin Team Roles
Belbin Team Roles test is a diagnostic tool which used to assess individual team role preference and determine the team roles balance in a team (Partington and Harris, 1999). Nine team roles are identified in the Belbin team role test, they are coordinator, shaper, plant, recourses investigator, team worker, implementer, computer finisher, monitor evaluator and specialist. Belbin Team Roles are used to identify people's behavioral strengths and weaknesses so that it helps to build productive working relationship and mutual trust and understanding within a team (Belbin Associate, 2012).
According to my report of Belbin online test, I have the most preference role in the completer finisher with the highest score from 80 - 90. I also have preference role in coordinator, monitor evaluator and completer finisher which I score from 70 - 80 in each of them. It is quite accurate to say that I am a completer finisher. When I studied in the diploma in business administration, I would be responsible for combining different parts of the assignment and finding out the errors in most of the group assignment. And then I would make refinement for the part which can be better. I hope to ensure the quality of the reports which can meet the standard and requirement of the assignments. However, I may be unduly to worry about the quality of the report which I may ask my team members to submit their works to me as soon as possible so that I can have enough for checking. Some team members may revolt the rush schedule. As a team worker and coordinator, I would like to invite every team members to involve in discussion. I am willing to listen different opinions from the team members which help to create better ideas for the assignments.
Limitation of Belbin team role
Knowing one's team role cannot understand one's performance in the team (Jackson, 2002). It means it cannot predict the team success by identifying an individual's team roles. Moreover, Belbin team role has not been proven with high reliability and validity so that the result of the test may be doubtful (Lessem and Baruch, 2000).
Self-awareness - overall synthesis
After completing different tests in the above parts, I have more awareness of my learning style, personality and team role preference. It gives me an overall analysis to understand myself deeply by identifying my strengths and weakness.
The VARK shows that I have I multi-learning preference which means I can learn and retain new knowledge in more than one model. It makes me more flexible to process different knowledge in different situations. According to the result of my learning style preference and personality, it shows that I am a careful person. I prefer to listen to different people's opinions and observe their felling and behavior. And then I will try to collect the useful information as much as possible to help me to analysis a problem. After analyzing the problem thoughtfully, it will give my opinions. In accordance to my personality and team role preference, I would like to promote a harmony working environment. I would introduce cooperation and teamwork that I will feel at more ease to produce better work in this environment.
There has weakness in having a multi-learning preference. It is similar with the weakness of my personality which my time management skill is relative poor. I like to observe event from many different perspectives. I will waste a lot of time to collect information. As a multi-learning preference leaner, I often need to use more than one model to ensure the understanding of the new knowledge. Sometimes, it makes me annoyed by analyzing the relationship between the ideas. I usually waste lots of time in analysis section without real implementation. It usually makes me to do the work in the last minute. Although, the job may be little bit busy, I can finish it on time. My personality and team role shows that I concern the relationship between others. It is difficult for me to reject one's idea whether I may not agree with the point. I scare that I will lose the relationship or create a conflict in the discussion. I may lose some chances which may make the work better.
Career Choice and Life-Long Learning
Hong Kong is one of the world's 10th largest trading economies (HKTDC, 2012). According to the official research, Hong Kong was handling an increasing amount of offshore trades (HKTDC, 2012). At the end of the 2011, Hong Kong has 120,273 import and export companies which employee 495,847 staffs (HKTDC, 2012). The import and export industry also accounts for 19.8% of GDP in Hong Kong (HKTDC, 2012). I am quite interested in this industry so that I choose to select merchandiser as my career. Merchandiser is quite active position in the jobs market (Jiujik, 2008). The quantity of merchandiser is usually insufficient in the industry, especially in the senior merchandisers who rich with experiences in procurement (Jiujik, 2008). Procurement includes many aspects in different industries, such as banking, hotel and retailing which merchandisers have to purchase different products or services through different channel over the world. Merchandiser pays an important role to procure the needed products, materials and services in a reasonable price with good quality. It helps to save cost of production or operation and build up a reputation if there is a good merchandiser in a company (Jiujik, 2008).
In my career path, I decide to be a merchandiser assistance to receive related experiences in the first 2 year and then to become a real merchandiser. The requirements and responsibilities are similar in this two positions but merchandiser require past experiences. As an entry level, the requirement is not very high. According to the job adverts (appendices) which I have found, it require merchandiser to have F7 or above education qualification. Applicants should have good command of English and Mandarin. They should be independent, hard-working and well-organization so that they can handle their task by themselves. They should also be willing to learn different things when they enter into this industry. Merchandiser need to follow up sample development and project which aims to maintain the quality of products. Based on the research in JobDB (2012), being a senior manager usually requires minimum 8 year experience in purchasing sector. I will state in the position or merchandiser to accumulate enough knowledge and experience to catch the position of merchandiser. Finally, I hope I can become a sourcing manager which I can able to lead a purchasing team. After having more understanding about me by doing different tests in section A, I found that some of my personality and strengths can match the requirements of this career. I will discuss in the following part.
Career and myself
I will discuss the results of the three self-assessment tests with my career choice in this part. My strengths and weaknesses which have found out from the test will be used to analysis the match and mismatch between myself and career. I found I have multi-model learning preference. It gives me an ability to learn things with different modes. It can increase my intension to learn because I will not just focus on a single mode to receive knowledge. The score is especially high visual and kinesthetic sectors among the four modes. They are quite useful for me to view different graphics and figures in related to procurement and check the samples of products by following prior demonstration. The report of the LSQ also said that I have strong preference on reflectors. I prefer to understand and analyze an event thoroughly and then make a discussion carefully. Being a merchandiser, especially in senior position, individual should analysis various aspects of information which may be positive or negative and then making a decision. The wrong decision may influence the company reputation and business revenue so that the characteristic of reflector can eliminate the risk of making incautious decision.
For the personality, it is similar to the result if LSQ test which I prefer to think something thoroughly before doing it. It means I am a careful people which I am really to do impulse action. I will analyze the issues deeply and then making decision. The result also said that I also seek to develop harmony in the relationship and promote cooperation. It is quite important for merchandiser to have a good relationship in workplace. It is because merchandiser has to work with different management levels and departments to understand their needs and create procurement report.
Based on the result of Belbin team roles test, I have the highest mark in competitor finisher. The characteristic of this role is quite helpful for me to being a merchandiser. Merchandiser has to handle different documents and plans related to procurement. As a competitor finisher usually try to find out the errors by checking the documents carefully to ensure it can meet the related requirement. It can reduce the probability of making mistakes.
There are some mismatch between my career choice and myself. Although I have multi-model learning preference, my aural sector is relative low compare with visual and kinesthetic sector which my communication skill is relative weak. Merchandiser usually needs to have negotiations with supplier directly to discuss the terms of contacts or others. The weak performance on aural sector may influence the negotiation if merchandiser cannot transfer the messages clearly. Being a reflector, I may also spend too much time on thinking without making final decision. It may influence the task to follow the planned schedule. It males rush schedules which I have to finish my job at the short period of time. I may not be able to make quick decision if I can be being a merchandiser in management level. As I have mentioned that personality and team role test point out that I promote cooperation and teamwork. I would like to maintain a good relationship with each others. There may be a problem which I may let my emotion to affect my decision making. I may lose some chances which I can get better result because I may concern more about on relationship than that of outcomes. It may not mismatch whit the requirement if I need to focus on results seriously in negotiation.
Based on the job requirement and responsibility in job adverts, I found there are some transferable skills which I may need to be required to fulfill the job duty. Transferable skill refers to the non-specific skills which can be taken from job to job by an individual (Watson, 2003). It is important for individual's career path development. It is found I have some transferable skill, such as problem solving skill, teamwork skill and basic business knowledge which may be beneficial to my career development.
Teamwork skill is critical in the workplace which can make employees to achieve greater job satisfaction, improved collaboration, job ownership, increased pride and higher self-esteem (Parnell, 1996). As a scout in secondary school, it makes me understand the important of teamwork. For example, the tasks, such as pitching the tents, cleaning the campus or making the dinner will be assigned to different of teammates so that we can achieve our goal quickly through teamwork.
Problem solving skill means that individual can analyze a situation, determine the real problem, find out any possible situation, evaluate each of the solution and select the best solution to solve the problem (Knippen & Green, 1997). The business environment is changing dramatically which people may face different problem every day. Having problem solving skill helps to use better method to solve the problem. Being a scout, I also need to control the different situation when having activities. I will face different enquiry from others which I have to respond to them immediately. It has enhanced my problem solving skill at that time.
Basic business skill is also required in workplace. Employer has a high interest in employees with business skill who can control the budget, make financial projection and identify potential business opportunity (Watson, 2003). As a business student in diploma and high diploma of business management, I have learned many basic business knowledge and concepts. The certification of LCCI also proved that I have the basic knowledge to handle financial documents.
To develop my career path, I need to improve more useful transferable skill to meet the requirement for my future career. It includes time management skill, negotiation skill and time management skill.
Time is valuable in today's business environment. Employers hope their employees to do the most things with the least time. Individual with good performance on time management is critical to achieve improves quality of life, independence and success in employment (Green, Hughes & Ryan, 2011). If I can enhance my time management skill, I can finish my join following schedule.
Bazerman &Neal said the negotiation is a soft skill which is important to managerial success (1992). People usually need to negotiation with others, such as supplier, customer or manager achieve different goal. Commercial negotiation skill is the process which an agreement is constructed between buyer and seller by solving differences of opinions within them (Farrington and Waters, 1994). The commercial negotiation is also a key element for business success (Ashcroft, 2004). It is useful in procurement sector to get better contract with supplier through negotiation.
If I have the chance to become a leader in management level, I have to improve my leadership skill. The role and process of leadership are in getting direction, creating alignment and nurturing commitment in a group of people (Johnson, 2000).
As the promotion of globalization, people have to considered more aspects of management when doing business (Danos & Richard, 1990). People have to equip more skills to compete in today's changing business environment (Robert & Donald, 2001). Lifelong learning is argued to be a critical feature for individual to remain competitive in global environment (Nicoll & Fejes, 2011). Minshell , Butterworth & Henderson states lifelong learning which learning is not confined to childhood or the classroom, but takes place throughout life and in a range of situation (2009). Lifelong learning helps us to enhance our employability so that it is important for our career development (Mckenzie & Wurzburg, 1997).
Language skill is important in the workplace which individual has to communicate with people from different countries. Putonghua and English are quite important in today's business environment. My performance in speaking Putonghua and English is not very good. I will join some short-term course of Putonghua and English to improve my language skill. According to the job advertising of merchandiser in job market, they usually require applicants who can speak English and Putonghua. If I can speak these two languages smoothly, I can transfer my messages to the people clearly.
I decide to increase my knowledge in the supply chain management by studying the Master of Science in operations and supply chain management in City University of Hong Kong. I will accumulate sufficient experiences and ability in this industry for several years so that I can have enough qualification to apply the master degree. The course aims to enable students to apply modern analytical and managerial skills which used to facilitate problem identification and analysis at all levels of operational practice and decision making in supply chain management. This advanced knowledge will benefit my career development especially in management level.
I also would like to join the negotiation skills in workplace certificate course which held by private institute. It can share many actual experience and skills to student by professor (Timeway, 2013). Different negotiation skills also will be shared in the workshop. I will study course after when I graduated so that I can negotiation with supplier in a better way. It can also increase my ability to apply the jobs.
To keep the peace with the changing market environment, I will try to get the newest industry information through different channel. For example, I can take attention on some profession websites or HKTDC's official website to understand the industry knowledge.