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Reflection is a process of looking back at processes, emotions and approaches taken or used in a task or learning process in order to establish what worked or what did not work and how best to improve the process for future practice, (www.qmu.ac.uk/els/docs/reflection1.doc). The essay is an examination and analysis of my strengths and weaknesses and how I can use my strengths to overcome the weaknesses. This will give me an opportunity to evaluate, discover myself and prepare for the future.
The past three months in University have had a great impact in my life. Being a university student has made me discover a lot of things that I did not know or overlooked about myself. I will start by highlighting my strengths. The Academic and Professional Training module has been very useful as it has given me the skills that I will be able to carry and develop throughout my life. At the start of the module we did a learning styles activity and the results of my assessment showed that I am a reflector. This proved the reason why I always find myself thinking about some things I had previously done and try to figure out different ways of how I could have done them better. It is important for people to know their learning styles so that they choose a learning style that better suits them and use it to achieve their goals.
I have good problem solving skills. When I get a question to calculate, I always examine several possible methods to find the right solution. I get satisfied that it is the right answer if I keep getting the same answer using different ways. I do this because I prefer to be careful in everything that I do and this boosts my arithmetical accuracy. This has been proven by my last two test results for Financial Accounting Foundations where I got 100% and 90% respectively (180ACC). In the numerical reasoning skills test, the results for profiling for success where almost average and this showed a reasonable balance between speed and accuracy.
I enjoy a challenge because it gives me great satisfaction when the task has been accomplished successfully and I will have explored all the avenues to my best ability. This raises my self esteem. Challenge also helps me to plan ahead therefore improving my organisational skills and helps me to manage my time well. Every night I prepare my books for the next day in my bag and this helps me save time in the morning and I am always on time for my lessons. I have positive attitudes towards goals and tasks. I set myself standards that I will be able to achieve within a certain time as I do not cope very well with failure. For me to be able to achieve my goals and tasks, I prioritise my workload according to importance and deadlines. This is a self driven motivator to keep me focused and it seems to be working well for me as I have completed my coursework a day or two before the due date yet I see fellow students trying to race with time on the day of submission.
Working with other students in the group work activity gave me the opportunity to utilise my communication skills to the benefit of the group. I am a good listener who listens to other peopleâ€™s views and give myself time to think about what was being said before jumping into unverified conclusions. Sometimes I might have a different opinion to what is being said but I am able to agree to disagree at the same time showing respect of individual opinion. Listening and being able to come up with solutions gives a clear vision and sense of direction for everyone participating. I undertook the roles I was assigned to do and finished them on time. All these skills are essential for effective team work as stated by Levin (2005).
In this part of the essay, I will focus on my weaknesses. During the lectures if I do not understand a topic in any subject, I seem to give up easily. I try and find something to keep my mind occupied at that time instead of trying to concentrate more and hope to understand well as lectures go on. Even after the lecture I tend to leave such topics till later in my revision and this gives me a lot of anxiety towards tests. Anxiety is one of my biggest weaknesses as it makes me lose focus. This is reflected on my results for the verbal reasoning skills test which were below average.
I prefer working on my own and this affected my input in the group work activity. I felt l did not contribute as much as I should have done due to my reserved nature. There were times when I kept quiet even though I had a point which could possibly have been valid. While I accept that constructive criticism is important for better outcomes. I prefer not to criticise other people for fear of hurting their feelings even when I know that there is need for me to do so. An example of this is that even though I had understood the Beblinâ€™s roles analysis as important to effective team work, (Levin 2005:66), I did not say anything to my group members when I realised that our group had no structure. There were some members who were dominant and they did most of the decisions for the group. Sometimes due to my quietness I felt that I was not being heard and found it hard to stand up for myself. Although the overall feedback from other groups was good, it could have been better if I had commented to my group members before the presentation.
Lack of confidence is also my other weakness. I find it difficult to talk in a group of people I am not used to. This was evident in the presentation we did and I found myself struggling to talk to the extent that I felt that I did not say everything I wanted to say and my group members said my tone of voice was low. I am also reluctant to try new things due to lack of confidence. I am still struggling with referencing and most of the information skills that we have learnt as it is all new to me. For a while now, I have realised that I am forgetful. I seem to be overwhelmed with a lot of things and try to take in too many things into my head at once. Later on I find it difficult to think what it was I wanted to do. One of the reasons for this is that I read for long periods of time without giving myself a break.
Having had the opportunity to reflect on my strengths and weaknesses, I have come up with an action plan to overcome my weaknesses using my strengths. This would help me when I go out into the outside world in the working environment. I have to work hard to improve my team working skills. Levin (2005) emphasises the need for good team working skills as he states that teamwork has become one of the important skills to improve oneâ€™s learning and employability. As much as it is important to work on my own initiative, it is equally important to be able to work as part of a team. Collective efforts of team members normally yield better results than where people work as individuals, Heller and Hindle (1998). I have learnt that keeping quiet does not give a solution. I should feel free to contribute my views at the same time respecting other people and acknowledging differences.
I am going to try and build my confidence in speaking in front of a group of people. Practise is the solution to overcome this problem. I will try and participate more in group discussions and volunteer to go and talk in front of people when needed. On the subject of ignoring things that I do not understand and not addressing them till late, I am going to change my attitude and try to stay focused if I still did not understand, I will approach the tutor and ask for help. I am sure if I overcome this problem, it will reduce the level of anxiety I get due to lack of not understanding.
To overcome the problem of forgetting things, I have already started writing things I need to do in a diary. Although I still seem to forget to check it at times, I realise that I have improved a lot on this problem. I need to learn to give myself regular breaks when I am reading so that I do not get overwhelmed by trying to take in too much at the same time. I am also going to continue building on my strengths where possible. Finally I would like to say that writing this assignment has made me discover myself and made me a better person than I had been before. It has made me reflect on everything I do and aim to do it better for me to increase my chances in my learning, employment and life in general Drew and Bingham (2007).