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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.