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Fantastic feedback!

To allow me to reflect on the development of my Blog and its content I would really appreciate it if you could give me a few lines of feedback in the comments section below, Thank you 🙂

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Reflecting on reflection!

The ability to identify our goals, assess our abilities, plan to achieve them and especially to REFLECT on our progress is becoming more and more important in completing my assignments to the level that we are trying to achieve.


It is a skill that we are learning in this course of study but it will translate into the real world as it is essential in almost all jobs to be able to identify issues, formulate a plan to remedy the issue, carry out the plan and also REFLECT on how it went- strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures in order to learn from our experiences and progress to continually to ensure our Personal and Professional Development.

I have researched the reflection skills that I will need to successfully produce and effective piece of writing for my assignments. I found that Leeds Met have some brilliant pages on the web with in depth details of how to use the theoretical reflection skills in a practical setting. (I have added these to my blogroll) I feel that I have a clear idea of what I am being asked to do and of what is relevant to the given topics. In REFLECTION I feel that achieving my goal of producing an excellent assignment is one step closer to being achieved through my research and extensive reading on the subject. Confidence comes from Knowledge! 🙂

DEFINITIONS OF REFLECTION-

“…an activity in which people recapture their
experience, think about it, mull over it and
evaluate it.” (Boud, Keogh and Walker
(1985))

“…through reflection and analysis we strive
to understand the experience.” (Osterman
and Kottkamp (1993))

“Reflective practice is a mode that links
thought and action with reflection. It
involves critically analysing one’s actions
with the goal of improving one’s
professional practice.” (Kottkamp (1990))
“A dialogue of thinking and doing through
which I become more skilful.” (Schön
(1987))

 

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Assignment Fever!

We are nearing the time when Assignment hand-ins are starting. To ensure that I am on target I have completed an evaluation and assessment of how I feel my work is progressing and also identify the skills that I have learned which are particularly helping me complete my work.

 

I feel that I am a little behind with my assignments as typing is difficult (due to having a pot on my right hand) but I am happy with the preparation that I did before hand and I feel that I have a good grasp on the subjects that we have covered in classes. The class topics that I have found particularly useful are referencing and the mock presentation that we did in Business Law. The referencing information was really helpful and easy to follow so it really clarified the subject for me as well as giving practical examples of how to reference different medias both within your work and in your referencing sheet.

I found the on the spot mini presentation brilliant practice, split into teams we had just 30 minutes to prepare and present on a surprise topic we were given. I didn’t have time to get nervous and remembered the body language and presentation techniques that I had researched- and got great feedback from the Tutor! This has really increased my confidence and I am looking forward to my PDP presentation.

The only problem that I have found so far is that researching and sourcing actual legal case studies relevant to the assignment topics for Business Law is a lot harder than I thought,I have found case studies on Emerald but am finding it stressful and time consuming to filter out ones that have relevance.

To remedy this I have asked my Tutor for pointers and am holding a study group on that topic to allow my co students and myself to skill share and hopefully find an easier source to use.

All in all I am feeling pretty happy but there is ALWAYS room for improvement!

 

 

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Time Management

I am a mother to 4 children, a wife, a sister, a friend, a carer for my Husband’s Grandparents, a Charity Ambassador for Heart UK, a Patient Expert on an NHS TEG panel and of course A Student! Because I have lots of commitments one of the areas which I panic about and need to work on is finding time to prepare properly. With assignments and presentations coming up this has worried me a lot so in order to prevent this becoming a problem and affecting my work I have formulated an action plan which enables me to estimate the amount of time needed for each project and therefore I can schedule time to work on each one- ensuring that they will be ready before deadline.

PRIORITISE WORK- In my Action Plan I seperated my assignments and presentations by putting them in priority order- Using dates by which they need to be handed in. this ensures that I am not busy working on one subject and miss the deadline for another.

GATHER RESOURCES- I researched, used my notes, class slides and books that I have bought as well as library books and websites recommended by others in the study group so that I have a comprehensive set of resources which enables me to work on any of the assignments from home at any time. This works well for me as I sometimes get unexpected free time when my Mother in Law or family have the babies. It saves me from wasting time having to get resources before beginning work.

SCHEDULE TIME TO WORK- I arranged with my Husband times when he would be available to share childcare duties/housework weekly so that I can have scheduled time to work.

ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS- I also turn off my phone at these times as distractions can cause you to waste work time. It might be an idea to let your friends know what days/times you are studying and stay off facebook to avoid the temptation of distraction.

I have found that this system has worked really well for me, I have done work on all of my Assignments and almost completed two. I will continue to do this is the future and feel this will ensure I hand in on time! 🙂

 

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Presentation Power!

This week we are working on presentations! I have been so nervous about this as I haven’t had much experience of standing up in a group and talking. I feelt that my inexperience may mean that I make a mess of it and I know that I need to  conquer my fears so that I can present my topic confidently.

Identifying the problem- MY FEARS

Looking stupid

blushing

stumbling on my words

On looking into what I felt my barriers were I found that they were all about having confidence rather than research skills or sourcing topic information as I feel that I ahve the skills to  do this, it is the actual standing there infront of a group of people which is making me panic!

Solving the problem- ACTION PLAN

I have looked at the website www.ted.com after it was recommended to me by a friend. The website is a place where you can view people giving talks and presentations about just about any topic. I have watched lots of presentations on there and made notes on the ones I though were effective and why. Looking at body language in particular and how presenting a positive body stance can affect how both the presenter and the audience feel about what is being said. I have come to that conclusion that; **The first step to being confident is feeling confident- the first step to feeling confident is LOOKING confident** I also looked on a psychology website at ‘how to give a great presentation’, I have added the link in my blogroll, it gives some great tips to increasing your confidence and appearing in control (even if you don’t feel it!)

Conclusion- PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE

I have already completed the work for my presentation including a script and power point, I am booking a room in the library with a few friends from our study group with whom I feel comfortable and I know will give me honest and productive feedback, and giving my presentation to them. In order to project an image of confidence, knowledgeability and control I will be-

standing up straight, no hands in pockets, slouching or fiddling.

Making periodic eye contact with individuals around the room.

Using notes and slides to refer to but not reading from a sheet or just repeating what is on the slides.

Asking questions of my audience to involve them in the topic and keep them engaged.

Not being afraid to move around the front of the room.

keeping an open body posture, hands on hips in a confident manner and using hand movements to emphasise important points.

Hopefully I will give a successful presentation, I already feel that my confidence has greatly increased from assessing how I look to other people, and what I can do to project confidence and I am looking forward to putting my theory into practice!

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Assignment Poll

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Sourcing your Resources!

Hi, I have been looking at the skills assessments that I have done over the last few weeks and feel that I have identified some key areas that I need to develop. The basic skill that every student needs is being able to find the right resources, being aware of different sources that are available and knowing which genres are appropriate for the task at hand. I have extensively researched resources available to me in order to form a firm base for me to study from. I feel that this is important in order to work on building my weaknesses in research, time organisation and finding alternative solutions. The resources that I have sourced and used are-

Books- library and bought. I have bought quite a few book from ebay and amazon, as you can get some really great deals! I have also completed a library induction and familiarised myself with my library both at Wakefield college and Leeds Met. Things that I also need to look at are journals, as I haven’t done that before! I know where they are kept in the library and how to book them out but my next step will be to actually get one and use it in my assignments!

Internet- scholarly articles, subject websites and Journals- I have been using emerald insight to source journal entries and articles relevant to the assignments that we have been given. I have also used Google settings to search for only scholarly articles on a certain subject and found some fantastically interesting and relevant studies.

College learning Resources- Blackboard Blackboard is absolutely essential as it is where all course information and slides are. I have thoroughly explored Blackboard and made sure that I know how to use it and I now feel confident that i am competent and will be able to navigate Blackboard successfully.

Mobile resources- Android apps I have installed Blackboard on my Android phone. I have also looked on play.com and downloaded The Guardian Newspaper, Business Law Quiz, DMN (direct marketing news), Lawguide, Mobile Manage Mentor and the Wall Street Journal. This is really useful to me as I always have my phone with me and in any spare minutes I may have I can look through these. They are a quick and easy way to keep up to date with issues relevant to my courses. The Blackboard app emails me whenever content is uploaded by any of my tutors so I never miss it!

I think that making sure I have a variety of resources behind me has really increased my confidence. I feel that I have the information that I need or am able to successfully source out and use information to fulfill all my homework and assignments. It is a key step in getting prepared, ensuring that my time organisation is in good order and that I am now ready to begin my assignments in good time and avoid being rushed and under last minute pressure.

 

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Kolb’s Learning Theory

Kolb’s Learning Theory

Kolb’s learning theory states that there are 4 learning styles, which the Honey and Mumford Questionnaire is based. Kolb also theorises that there is a four stage learning cycle-(Kolb and Fry (1975))

Concrete Experience –

Reflective Observation –

Abstract Conceptualization –

Active Experimentation –

Without going too far into depth you can use this model to improve your study skills. I have used it to utilise my previous learning experiences and progress my successes and failures, weaknesses and strengths into actions to allow me to avoid making the same mistakes again and expand things that I feel I have done well to allow me to make progress and continue to evolve my study skills. I started by completing the Honey and Mumford Learning styles Questionnaire, but am progressing this by applying the learning model to my previous experience in study. By thinking of times that my learning outcome has not been what i wanted or i have not felt that my ability in an area was what it should be I am using Kolb’s theory to formulate alternative solutions, which was a previous weakness that I had identified in my self assessment. I feel that this is enabling me to both develop my study skills and also learn to formulate alternate solutions to the problems that i find!

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Skills Self Assessment

Skills self assessment

I have recorded areas in which I felt I had a score of 1, 2 or 3 which I either have only tried a few times, not tried at all or just feel ok with but do not feel confident in doing so that I have a clear idea of which areas I need to improve on. I have recorded each one below and formulated an action plan, in some cases I have already begun or completed the actions needed. I have separated them into their learning area categories as some issues from the same topic require the same solution or one action will solve two problems within the same area.

 

 

Study Skills Issues

Know how to use the library to find journal articles

Ask lecturers and tutors when unclear about the work

Know how to use the library to find books

Know how to use the library’s electronic search engines

Solutions

I have explored the student intranet and attended a study session in the library where we went through the resources available to us with the library staff. Through this I have also practiced looking up information and finding articles using the search engines and have also been using Emerald to search for Journals and papers relating to our assignments. I now feel a lot more confident that I have the skills to source relevant information from different areas.

I am not confident and speaking out in class in front of others so I would not ask about work if I did not understand. I have emailed tutors regarding further information on class work and the CIM course and feel that I am able to communicate successfully this way and it also creates an electronic copy of answers to questions so that I can refer to them later. I am also working on building my confidence to speak out in class- this is covered in Oral Communication Issues.

 

Writing Skills Issues

Add tables, diagrams, graphs and sketches to illustrate arguments

Use examples and references to support arguments

Solutions

I have bought office 2010 and have been going through the powerpoint tutorials so that I can become confident with putting graphic media of statistics into my work. I am confident with sourcing or using data to provide graphs and finding diagrams to support theories but I felt that I lacked the knowledge on how to get those into my work. I have not completed all the tutorials yet but feel that I am finding out all sorts of things that I can do with my work which will enable me to eventually be capable of presenting a comprehensive assignment.

I have downloaded the slides from Blackboard on referencing as I know how to source relevant references from works to support my arguments but am not sure on how to present that in my work correctly. We are also having a class on referencing where we will be taken step by step through the process and be given examples to ensure we reference our assignments correctly. I feel satisfied that after this I will be able to reference accurately in my work.

Oral Communication Skills Issues

     Take plenty of time to prepare and organise what I want to say

Speak clearly and concisely

Use audio-visual materials to support presentations (OHT)

Make contributions/ask questions that relate to previous material

Solutions

I am not confident in speaking out in class in front of other students so I find asking questions or offering ideas in class difficult. I am aware that this can be a considerable problem as our course involves a lot of class discussion and work in both large and small groups. On discussion with the other students I have found that quite a few of them also feels that this holds them back from speaking out in class. To remedy this we have started a study group with some of the other students where we feel we are all friends and are in a supportive environment. I feel that by developing our social bond as a group that we all feel more confident to voice our ideas in class as none of us will laugh or make fun if they are wrong. I feel that I am becoming more confident with public speaking and we will be practising doing our oral presentations for each other to increase our confidence when doing it for the tutors as part of assessments. I am aware that I tend to speak very fast when I am nervous and I feel that having the opportunity to practise my presentation in a group where I will be given constructive feedback will enable me to work on this and eliminate it in time for assessments.

I have not had much experience with using audio-visual materials but the powerpoint tutorials that I have been using have taken me through how to create a slideshow and I now feel that I can use powerpoint to make a successful presentation.

Time Management Issues

Have a plan which helps to balance study and social time

Timetable a safety margin to complete tasks ahead of time in case of accidents.

Solutions

I have struggled previously to balance my academic and home life as I am the primary carer of my 4 children and also care for my Husband’s Grandparents. I sometimes feel as though I do not have enough time to complete both my assignments and my family commitments. I have a diary in which I record all my appointments and important things like the children’s school calendars, hospital appointments and assignment hand in dates. I have also got an academic calendar with all my academic commitments, classes and hand in dates on. For each assignment I have developed a time scale so that they will be completed with a large margin for error. I have asked my mother in law to help out with childcare so that I can have time to study and have also asked my husband to try and commit to definite days that he will be able to be at home so that I can try to work on my assignments. This is a work in progress.

Information Technology Issues

Use the library electronic catalogue

Solutions

I attended a class with the library staff where they took us through library plus and all the electronic resources. We also went through it again in our study group to ensure that we were all familiar with and confident using the electronic catalogue. I now feel that I have the skills to use the library catalogue to source information successfully.

Working with Others Issues

Accept and learn from criticism

Solution

I feel that I would like to work on accepting criticism and using it to identify areas that I can improve on. I put this as a ‘3’ on the assessment as I feel that I am ‘OK –ish’ at  this point. I have asked my husband, sister and the other students in our study group to read through some of my work and give me constructive criticism, which I record and then use to formulate a plan of improvement. I feel that this will enable me to progress as a person and develop professionally as I will then be practised at receiving and using criticism. This mean that when I hand my assignments in for formative assessment that I will be able to use the information that the tutors give me to improve my assignments and improve my level of work and consequently my grades.

Problem Solving Issues

Generate alternative solutions

Solution

In previous experience I have come up against problems and found a solution which I felt would work in theory but when it does not work in practise I have struggled to find an alternative. I have reflected on this extensively in order to find a way to prevent it from occurring again and I found that I put too much stock in my original idea and did not have a ‘plan B’ in case that should fail. In order to progress and increase my problem solving skills I need to find at least 3 ways to solve a problem and research all of them equally in depth. That way I can use the one I favour initially but should that turn out to be ineffective, unsuitable or unpractical I have several other options to turn to.

Conclusion

I feel that I have extensively analysed my study skills and considered my learning style in order to produce a comprehensive idea of where my strengths and weaknesses lie. I have then used that information to produce an action plan of things that I need to do in order to improve my study skills and ensure that I have a well-rounded set of skills to allow me to develop, progress and succeed as a student. I feel that the work that I have initiated has already helped me and feel that by becoming more self-aware, using self-criticism, reflection and the criticism of others to improve my work that I am already becoming better in some of my weaker areas. I believe that I can further this process and promote on going personal development by continuing to assess my skills as I continue through my university course. This is also invaluable in helping to spot problems arising before they become a big issue and affect the quality of my work. I will continue to strive to be a better person and student.

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