Thursday, July 12, 2012

Self-Assessment and Reflection

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Abstract

The author will review what her motivation for school once was and what it is now. She will also review and discuss her learning styles through out her school career, along with her strengths and weakness in learning. She will them go over what she feels she can do to potentially grow and improve her learning styles.

Self-Assessment and Reflection

Looking back over my career of learning I look at what makes me want to learn. As a young child I was excited to go to school, it was fun. Somewhere during the course of early schooling, school became a job and was not as much fun. It also became a competition in my eyes. School became my way to complete for the attention of my parents. I am the middle child of three girls. I am two years young than my older sister, and five years older than my younger sister. I believe most children tend to think the best way to get the attention they are longing for is by doing bad, because even bad attention is attention. I found myself trying to out do my older sister through school and extra-curricular activities, since I felt that there was no way to compete with my “baby” sister.


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For most of my school career I remember there were many courses I would not spend too much time studying and still get relatively good grades. Looking back I could have done much better if I had spent more time studying, and now I wish I had, but at that time I still did better than my older sister and to me that is what mattered most.

Learning Style

I always do best in a course when my hands are busy. Whether it is by taking notes, outlining a reading assignment or working on practice problems. I am a hands on learner. In high school and even during college I would find myself rewriting my notes at least twice. Doing this helped me understand what was taught in class. Looking back at this form of repetition, this is probably what helped me retain the information and get decent grades without spending much time cramming or reviewing before a test. I also found in college that if I could relate the topic to a real-world example I would remember the topic or idea much easier.

According to Richard Felder and Barbara Soloman, professors at North Carolina State University, there are “four dimensions of learning styles;” active and reflective, sensing and intuitive, visual and verbal, and sequential and global learners. These professors have provided a test on there web site that grades one on a sliding scale of one to eleven. They believe if score a one, which is the middle of the slide, you have a good balance between the two dimensions of each learning style.

"Active learners tend to retain and understand information best by doing something active with it, discussing or applying it or explaining it to others. Reflective learners prefer to think about it quietly first. Sensing learners tend to like learning facts, intuitive learners often prefer discovering possibilities and relationships. Visual learners remember best what they see pictures, diagrams, flow charts, time line, films and demonstrations. Verbal learners get more out of words, written and spoken explanations. Sequential learners tend to gain understanding in linear steps, with each step following logically from the previous one. Global learners tend to learn in large jumps, absorbing material almost randomly without seeing connections, an then suddenly getting it."

I filled in Felder and Soloman’s questionnaire and submitted it to be scored.

Strengths and weaknesses

Strengths. Having a balance between being an active and reflective learner is one of my strengths. I am able to learn well when using discussion groups or applying the lesson taught, along with being able to think about an idea before applying it in practice. Another strength I have is my balance between being a sequential and global learner. I am understanding logical steps in problem solving and I am also able to solve problems without always being able to see the “big picture” by just understanding the logical connections.

I feel being a visual learner is probable one on my strongest strengths, when learning in a school setting. Most classes offer many forms of visual learning through charts, graphs, outlines, and other forms. Note taking in class or putting a reading assignment in an outline format has been a strength of mine as both a visual learner as well as an active learner for many years. Being able to study material that has been shown or constructing the material myself, and use it to remember the information in a test format has always helped me. Being a sensing learner, I am able to solve problems, which have an established method, and memorize facts using flash cards. These methods have always benefit my school career.

Two additional strengths that were not included in the learning styles above are my organizational and time management skills. I have always been organized in my workspaces and even with my thoughts; another place outlines have helped me. Time management has been a skill I have acquired since starting college. In order to keep myself under control with school, work, and my personal life, I have relied on having good time management skills. I use calendars to keep me in line and on time.

Weaknesses. Even though being organized is one of my strengths, it is also a double-edged sword. I have been known to procrastinate completing a project because my workspace in not organized to my liking, or having to rewrite my notes one more time because they were not completely organized. Procrastination is more than likely my largest weaknesses and also the hardest to divest myself. Some of my other weaknesses are that I am neither a good intuitive learner nor a verbal learner. I do not do well with surprises such as topics that were not covered in class but are included on a test. Since I am not a good verbal learner I do not make well in a class where the notes are already done and handed out to the class and then you just sit and listen to a lecture. I struggle in order to keep my attention focused on the topic when all that is required is to sit and listen. I need to have some form of hands on activity. I also have a hard time grasping a topic if I do not have a real world occurrence to associate the new topic with.

Potential for growth and improvement

In order to continue learning I will need to constantly improve on my learning style along with mastering my time management and stress reduction skills. There is always room for growth and improvement. New skills are always a benefit and fine-tuning my current skills will only enhance my learning.

When I first started college there was not nearly as much to stress over as there is today. Now I have a full time job in the career I have chosen and a family that keeps me on my toes. It is important for me to feel I am learning for the sake of learning, so I do not feel I am wasting time and will commit myself to the workload required for the course. One of the easies ways for me to stay interest in the subject is to be able to relate it to my existing knowledge and build off that current knowledge. In the beginning of each new class I plan to try to get an overview of the subject before I become consumed in the details. I also need to reduce the feeling of having to be perfectly organized and stop using that skill as a disadvantage. Procrastination will be my biggest hurdle. I will force myself to follow the schedule I set for projects. I will devote at least five minutes for starting a project, hoping that once I have at least started I will feel more obligated to finish, or at least get the feeling that it is not as bad as I had thought.

Conclusion

Now that I am an adult with my own family, I no longer feel the need to compete for the attention of my parents over my sister through my grades. This is no longer my motivation. My motivation is now educational and self-growth, learning as much as I can about the topics I am interested in. Of course, it does not make every course or topic any easier to learn. Over the course of my school career my strengths in my learning skills have gotten stronger with every course I take. There is always room to improve. My time management and stress reduction skills help me to keep my learning styles in tact and keep me focused on my current class while still keeping a healthy balance with my personal life and work schedules. As an adult learner I need to take responsibility for my learning. I need to stay focused on my goals, but not let myself get lost in them.

Reference

Felder, R. M. & Soloman, B.A. (00, August ). Learning Styles and Strategies. Retrieved October 10, 2000, from http//www.ncsu.edu/felder-public/ILSdir/styles.htm

Covey, S. R.(18). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York Fireside.


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