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Within this document I am going to be reflecting back on myself throughout this academic year. I will be reflecting on the goals I had set myself and the actions/ steps I have taken in order for me to reach them. I will also be writing about how I can better myself and what I can do in order to ensure I am reaching my goals and targets which I have set myself. Furthermore, I will create an action plan which I can use as a guide to what I want to achieve within the next year. I will also state the actions I can take and the changes I need to make in order for me to succeed. In addition, I will be discussing four main topics within this document which are commuting to and from the university, group work, the impact of technology/social media on my studies and the different methods of teaching in each module which also has an impact on a student’s focus and understanding.
The Effects of Commuting to And from University
Throughout this academic year I have been commuting to and from the university. This is a big commitment as I am having to wake up really early at times in order for me to arrive on time especially when I’m having a 9am start. Throughout this year I have not been doing well as I have been absent, quite a lot especially in semester 2. Whereas in semester 1 I was doing quite well in attending my lectures and seminars but towards the end of semester 1 I had started to miss quite a few of my lessons. This was due to having a few personal issues outside of my studies, however I did not deal with these issues in a reasonable way as I did not inform my academic tutor about the reasoning for my absence. From this I have learnt that due to poor communication from myself it had led to my academic tutor thinking I have just been slacking, and also, it had lead me to fall behind on a few of my modules. Moreover, other factors which had affected me from being able to attend university were the delays and cancelations of trains due to bad weather, trains being on strike or if there was an issue with any of the tracks. These were few situations which were out of my hand however, I did inform the university of these issues and notified them of my absence.
Commuting is a commitment which takes motivation in order to wake up early and travel to and from the university. Commuting can be linked to Herzberg’s (1950s) as he had developed the two-factor motivational theory which consist of the motivator factor which leads to satisfaction and motivation in what you do. This related to commuting because if I enjoy university and the subject which I’m studying then this will motivate me to wake up early and make sure I reach university on time. The second factor is the hygiene factor which can lead to dissatisfaction and also it can be a reason in losing motivation to travel, some example of this could include not having a good relationship with tutors and also not being understood by your tutors this could lead students not wanting to come to class. Another factor which could lead to this not being recognised or even being ignored by tutors which is another dissatisfaction which decreases a student’s motivational levels. In addition, commitment is another factor which helps students to be committed in commuting to and from the university. Because if you are committed to your studies then you will always have the motivation to attend university. As Rusbult’s (1983) theory states that the main factor of commitment is satisfaction, therefore if you are satisfied with the course you are more likely to stay committed and motivated in attending.
In the future, I plan to do things differently by showing more commitment towards my studies and also by not allowing outside influence to affect this. I plan to do this by setting myself targets such as aiming for a 2:1 and keeping a good attendance record. furthermore, what I plan to change is my communication skills, this is because if I have another personal issue outside of my studies which starts to have an impact upon my studies I plan to inform the university of this as it will help my tutors have an idea of why I have been missing class but also enable them to give me more time on my assignments if needed and it also gives them a reason to know that I am not wasting their time when I do ask for extra help and support with my assignments.
The Effects of Group work
This academic year there has been a few assignments which involved group work. For each group I have worked with, they have not been the ideal group I would have chosen. However, I feel that when it comes to group work I attend all group meetings and do my part in advance as I feel it’s not only my grade on this piece, therefore I do not leave my group work to the last minute as I may do with some of my individual work. Also, by not working in my ideal group I feel as though I have been more productive because I was less distracted and was able to give my full attention to work which needed to be completed. However, a downfall of when working in these groups this year was that we did not have a plan set out, which did cause a few issues towards the assignment deadline.
Working as part of a group involves commitment and also trusting your peers that one another will do the work which has been assigned to them. Personally, for myself working as part of a group is a form of motivation for getting my done as others are relying on me. I can link this to Maslow hierarchy of needs (1983) which is a theory stating the basic theory of human motivation. This theory includes 5 basic needs which are physiological needs, safety, love/belonging, self- esteem and finally self– actualisation. This links in with students as it helps to realise the importance of studying and what the university does to provide students with basic essentials such as the class room, library which they are able to access books and have access to computers to complete assignments and also to do extra studying. In addition, to enhance our learning tutors always give extra support and answer any questions we have even outside of university times through emails, in order to ensure we are confident and understand what is expected from us. Furthermore, Landsberger (1950) had introduced the Hawthorne effect, as he had noticed that people’s performance had increased when they were being observed. This theory links in with group work as most students also put in that extra effort when working in a group. This is something which I do as I feel I have a responsibility of completing my part on time as not only will this affect my grade but also every other person’s grade within the group.
In the long term, I plan to change a few things when working in any groups and that is to create a plan. This is because I feel if there is a plan in place I feel it sets the foundation of what needs to be done and also it makes it easier to split the task up. This will also help in knowing what we have completed and make sure we include and have covered all the learning objectives. Also in the future what I would like to change is enabling others to become more involved, as when working in certain groups I feel as though I take over and take the responsibility to do majority of the work myself, this is because sometimes the other members have not completed their tasks on time and instead of me allowing them to complete their task I just take over and I feel this is an negative impact as this then gives them the impression they do not have to do anything which could lead them to thinking that in every other group they join, therefore by equally distributing the work this allows us all to have a fair part and not just expecting others to do all the work.
The Influence Technology/Social Media Has on My Studies
Technology and social media are a big part of our lives, and it most certainly is a big part of my life as I cannot go a day without my phone. There is an advantage to this as social media helps us to connect and socialise with others, as technology is starting to take over it also helps in advancing our learning skills as well as our communication skills. However, I feel and know that I am constantly using my phone. Therefore, when I’m supposed to be putting my phone away in class for example I don’t always put it away and sometimes when I feel bored and find it difficult to focus I use my phone as an easy distraction method. In adittion, due to advanced technology I am able to access work which I have missed through Blackboard, also I find it easier to make notes on my laptop instead of the traditional notebook and pen method.
Technology has a great impact on society as it allows us to stay connected to friends and family but also eases our daily life due to all these new apps. However according to an article by Leonardo Jines (2015) had stated the research which was conducted by digital analytics firm Flurry stated from the research which they had conducted showed that on average a person was spending unto 3 hours plus on their phones per day and on average they were spending a whole day within a week, but these figures would have increased rapidly since. Also, research from Florida State University (FSU) have identified that the biggest distraction on our phones are the notifications as they are enough to cause a distraction and lose focus on tasks which are given. Due to this it shows that there has been an increase of low performance as more importance is given to our phones then our studies/work. Another negative impact of technology and phones is that we are consuming so much of times on our phones that we are starting to disconnect from human interaction. When socialising in university at our free times majority of us spend that time on our phones, updating our social media accounts rather than interacting with one another. Even when spending time with others we are still not interacting with them as much due to us being on our phones.
The changes which I need to make in order for me to be more productive and involved within my seminar groups is to switch the notifications off from my phone, therefore this will prevent me from reaching for my phone in between lessons.
Another way to prevent me from reaching for my phone is to become more involved within the discussions which are occurring throughout the lesson, and I could do this by preparing myself beforehand for each lesson by completing the seminar work and also conducting extra reading which will help to widen my knowledge and understanding about the topic which we are studying. Moreover, another change which I would like to make is when I’m socialising with friends I want to cut back on how much time I spend on my phone and instead start to interact and conduct different activities with them which don’t involve sitting around on my phone.
The Effects of Different Teaching Methods
I believe that different types of teaching methods affect a student’s concentration levels and the level of understanding they take from that lesson. Throughout my modules this year the teaching methods for each module have been different and due to this my concentration span is greater in a few lessons than others. This is because a few lessons are more practical and involve us doing different tasks which helps keep the lesson and learning more interesting. Furthermore, I do also have lessons where the teacher just talks at you straight for 2 hours. This method for me is least effective as I often end up getting distracted easily, whether that is due to my phone or sometimes I even start to day dream and think about other things which are going on in my life. However, I often go off thinking without noticing and I sometimes do miss a few important information which has been given out.
According to Hannah Richards from BBC News (2010) suggests that on average universities student’s attention span only lasts for approximately 10 minutes. According to research this is one of the many reason students do not attend their lectures. There are also a few other reasons such as students having to take on part- time work in order to financially manage to live on their own, which sometimes causes them to work late and therefore due to lack of sleep they are unable to focus the next day if they have class, which often leads to lack of performance and lack of concentration. According to Dr Maggie (2014) she suggest that one of the least effective studying methods is reading over notes and reading text books, one of the main reasons for passive studying being least effective is due to students concentration span but also this method is quite boring and students do not take in the information which is given to them therefore this affects their performance methods and this also shows when asked questions about a topic students sometimes are unable to explain in depth as they do not pay attention or take in the information which is given to them. However, the most effective method of studying and teaching is by making a student think by conducting quizzes on what they have studied so far as this will give an accurate result of their performance and also enable them to know their strength and weakness within the subject. Another effective teaching method is getting students to wrote down their answers on a sticky note/white board as this enables students to think and focus on what is being taught to them, rather than just taking at them. This also engages students to be more involved within the lesson and it also decreases the chance of them becoming distracted and day dreaming.
In the long run, I think in order to keep students more focused for a longer period of time, I think teachers should change their teaching methods from time to time. As by doing this it will be keep students more focused and also motivate students to attend lessons. Different methods could include discussing the seminar answers within groups and each group sharing their ideas, paired work, watching video clips which help with understanding, enable students to present what they have done etc. as this will help to keep students engaged as I feel when tutors involve us in working in pairs, setting out quiz or even playing a video I focus more because it helps me to become less distracted from other things as when I am being talked at for more than 20mins I cannot concentrate and end up easily distracted.
I have created the following action plan to help aid me in to achieving my goals and targets within the next year.
My specific goals are to improve my attendance as well as my contributions within the seminars and lectures. As by doing this it will help increase my knowledge and understanding which will then help me to improve my grades, as I am aiming to achieve a 2:1 by the end of this course.
To measure my performance, I can look at my attendance rate on Blackboard which shows me the percentage rate for each class and I am aiming to keep it 90% or above. Moreover, to reflect on my grades for each assignment I will read through and reflect on the feedback I receive in order to improve for next time. Furthermore, to ensure I am achieving to the best of my abilities in my free time I will conduct further reading in the library and also any questions I may have I will email my tutors to ensure I have a good understanding of each topics.
To ensure my goals are achievable I will reflect on the progress which I have made every five to six weeks. By doing this it will help me to ensure I am making the right moves in achieving my goal of a 2:1 at the end of year 2.
Realistically, I would like to end year 2 with an overall grade of a 2:1 and also end the year with my attendance being above 90%.
Within the first couple of months of year 2, I would like to maintain my attendance and also ensuring I complete all my seminar work as well as conducting extra research in order to enhance my knowledge and understanding throughout each module.
In conclusion from reflecting back on the past year, I have noticed that my engagement within the course had dropped especially within semester two. Due to this I have started to have a negative impact within my studies as I have not been well prepared and have lost my focus for a few lessons. However, I have been up to date with my assignments but I feel if I become more engaged within my seminars I have the ability to perform really well. Due to lack of engagement within my course, my assignments have not been up to high quality standards. Nevertheless, within the next year I am hoping to turn this around and start to engage and attend seminars as this will help to develop my understanding of each topic and help to improve my grades. To help avoid distraction I will be switching off notifications to avoid checking my phone which would otherwise stop me from frequently paying attention in class and on my assignments. In addition, by reflecting back on this academic year I can see that I have had a drop in my productivity and motivation since the beginning of the year, however I plan to bring this back and become more productive within the next year of my studies. I also plan to increase my communication skills as by doing this it will help in the future when I have a job as communication is the most important aspect as having good communication levels helps to make things less complicated and if there are any issues we can come up with a method to resolve this.
- A, H. Maslow Simon and Schuster, (6 Dec 2013) The Theory of Human Motivation - Psychology – pg. 15-34
- Agnew, C. R., Van Lange, P. A. M., Rusbult, C. E., & Langston, C. A. (1998). Cognitive interdependence: Commitment and the mental representation of close relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 939-954.
- Dunlosky, J. (2013) Strengthening the Student Toolbox: Study Strategies to Boost Learning, American Educator, 37(3): 12–21.
- Dr Maggie Wray Ph. D (2014) least and most effective method of student concentration span: http://creatingpositivefutures.com/why-the-most-common-study-method-is-the-least-effective/
- Hannah Richardson (2010) student concentration span: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8449307.stm
- Kathryn R. Wentzel, David B. Miele – Routledge, (19 Feb 2016) Handbook of Motivation at School - Education – pg. 230 -240
Leonardo Jines (2015) The Effects of Mobile Technology on Our Society: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/effects-mobile-technology-our-society-leonardo-jines
- Mark Thompson (2005): https://contactzilla.com/blog/5-psychological-theories-motivation-increase-productivity/
- Rusbult, C. E. (1983). A longitudinal test of the investment model: The development (and deterioration) of satisfaction and commitment in heterosexual involvements. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 45, 101-117.
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