Understanding learning rationale

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Rationale

In this piece of work I will complete a reflective report (………. the expression on paper/screen of some of the mental processes of reflection. Other forms of expressing reflection are in speech, in film, in graphic portrayal, music etc. The expression of reflection is not; however, a direct mirror of what happens in the head. It is a representation of that process within the chosen medium and reflection represented in writing, for example, will be different to that encompassed in a drawing. In other words, in making a representation of reflection, we shape and model the content of our reflection according to many influences” (Jenny Moon (1999)), on how I am as a learner, and issues that I could develop on. I am going to do this by looking back at my portfolio and attempting to identify my strengths and weaknesses.

The value of reflection as a way of learning from experience is vital; this has been of great importance to me, as through past experiences I have learnt many things. This is also demonstrated by children at a young age, e.g. when a child touches a heater that is hot, they know not to touch it again as it may hurt them; therefore they learn from trial and error. Experiences like this have taught me how to cope with certain situations. Being confronted by a situation once, seeing whether my reaction had a positive outcome, or a negative outcome, resulted in how I have coped with situations thereafter. Carrying out the skills audit was a positive thing, as it educated me on many different factors about myself as a learner, and taught me what I was good at and what I could improve on (Appendix 1 & 2). The level of self awareness on my learning styles has increased by looking at Kolb Learning Styles; from which I discovered I was a ‘Diverger', basically meaning that my learning characteristics include, ‘Concrete Experience and Reflective Observation' (Appendix 3). This balanced with Honey & Mumford's variation on the Kolb system, ("Our description of the stages in the learning cycle originated from the work of David Kolb. Kolb uses different words to describe the stages of the learning cycle and the four learning styles...Diverger, Assimilator, Converger and Accommodator ...And...The similarities between his model and ours are greater than the differences are...” (Honey & Mumford)) this stated I was more of a ‘Reflector'.

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Looking back (Appendix 1&2) I am able to discover the issues I am good at handling and those that I struggle with and need to work on. The strengths include being able to work well within a team, which I have also realised from previous experiences; working in groups to do presentations for my A Levels made me feel more confident as an individual. Being able to spread the work load, and having other people relying on me to get the work done made me more determined to get my part finished, as I didn't want to let them down. This has also helped me to build up my confidence to carry out individual presentations in University, as I have learnt key skills from working within a team, learning from their actions to what I could and should be doing too. I think that this strength will also assist me in my future career; wanting to work with children you need to plan with other teachers also teaching your year group, and to see their progress in other lessons.

Another strength of my mine, worked out by the Skills Audit (Appendix 1&2) were my technology skills, which was put into use during my time in secondary school and sixth form. Knowing that this was something I was good at made it more enjoyable to learn throughout my time at school. This skill has come in use with general day to day life, as I have learnt to carry out different tasks via different software which I wouldn't have done otherwise.

Throughout carrying out theses different questionnaires and looking at all the different theories that are associated with learning skills, there are many parts of myself that could still be enhanced upon. Starting with my communication skills; talking to people isn't a problem, but trying to get the correct words out and for them to make sense to other people is where I struggle the most. Moreover, not knowing that what I'm thinking is right stops me from voicing my opinions as I don't want to say the wrong thing. I have overcome this by being more confident in what I think, and voicing my opinions, whether they are right or wrong; this is a form of gaining confidence, integrating with other people and participating within a group.

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Being able to extract relevant information and key points is something I struggle to deal with alongside time keeping. By looking at the skills4study website and the writings of Stella Cottrell has given me ways of overcoming this negative view of approaching setbacks. Extracting information is something I have had to do in the past month (Appendix 4 & 5) with trying to pick out key points and summarising an article. By being able to do this showed me that this was a setback that I could overcome with more practice. The tendency to leave things to the last minute comes from me not being confident with what I am doing and not finding the right resources to help me get through, but by looking at the skills4study has taught me alternative ways of conquering this, such as planning before hand and brainstorming. In future I can also use Gibb's model to help overcome this: There are several formal models of reflection which can be used. A model commonly used in the health professions is Gibbs' model of reflection (1988). An outline of this model is given here, with a breakdown of the types of questioning involved at each stage, to give an idea of the depth that effective reflection requires. Gibbs model of reflection (1988)”

From carrying out the Kolb and VARK learning styles questionnaires (Appendix 6), has helped me in approaching my work in different ways and taught me how to put them into practice during day to day life.

Comparing my skills against the generic expectations has shown that I have been able to comment on, and analyse my strengths and weaknesses within my skill sets. I have looked at different theorists who have come up with ways of discovering what type of learning styles suits me best, which has taught me more on what my weaknesses are, and given me ways of overcoming them and turning them into strengths. By going through the skills4study site helped in many forms by finding ways of triumphing over all the problems holding me back. Some of the targets that I have set myself are, to become more vocal with my opinions, participate and integrate more, and to become more time efficient. Having the information on study skills, learning strategies and personal effectiveness showed me varied forms of what I could do to make myself a more achievable learner.

References

Books

Cottrell, S (2003). Skills For Success: the personal development planning handbook. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Chapter 7.

Gibbs, G., 1988. Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit. Oxford: Oxford Polytechnic.

Moon, J (1999). Reflection in Learning and Professional Development. London: Kogan Page.

Websites

(2001). VARK Questionnaire. Available: http://www.vark-learn.com/english/page.asp?p=questionnaire. Last accessed 9 December 2009.

(2003-2009). Honey & Mumford's Variation on the Kolb System. Available: http://www.businessballs.com/kolblearningstyles.htm. Last accessed 9 December 2009.

ARU, 2009

Cottrell, S. (2007). Structured Reflection. Available: http://www.palgrave.com/skills4study/pdp/structured/index.asp. Last accessed 9 December 2009.

Moon, J. (1999). Reflective Writing - some initial guidance for students.. Available:

http://services.exeter.ac.uk/cas/employability/students/reflective.htm. Last accessed 9 December 2009.

QMU. (2005-2007). Gibbs' Model of Reflection. Available: http://www.qmu.ac.uk/els/docs/reflection1.pdf. Last accessed 9 December 2009.