Example Education Essay: Process of self evaluation, reflection upon learning, and planning for future developments

Example Education Essay: Process of self evaluation, reflection upon learning, and planning for future developments
This paper describes a process of self evaluation, reflection upon learning, and planning for future developments. As well as considering the learning points which have been successfully internalized over the course of the semester, it will incorporate reflection on strengths and weaknesses, and begin to outline future communication with putative employers. In addition to presenting some analysis of the formal and academic aspects of the experience, it will discuss the interpersonal aspects of learning, and the development of those capacities which may have professional and vocational applications.
As Stenhouse points out, ‘A curriculum is an attempt to communicate the essential principles and features of an educational proposal in such a form that it is open to critical scrutiny and capable of effective translation into practice.’ (1), However, negotiating the formal structures and requirements of the curriculum is only one aspect of the learning process. A perceptible process of transformation has begun in education, away from a lecture based didactic approach and towards adaptable, flexible modes of learning and teaching. Accordingly, this record of reflective learning will discuss the use of oral, listening and communication skills, considering self management in group situations. In conclusion, it will present a flexible plan for the future, outlining the skills which need to be developed and providing some indicative targets and points for action. This piece presents my own reflections, and where appropriate, makes reference to appropriate research and analysis by published authorities.

From a purely personal perspective, undertaking the module involved a reconsideration of my own identity and purpose, and the sorting through of the multiple dimensions and preoccupations of my life. As Hall points out, ‘…no one has one identity; and indeed those identities may be in tension (one example would be the ways in which “mother” and “worker” are often understood as existing in tension.’ (2 ) Consequently, it was important to reconfigure ones self-identity and direction in the light of new knowledge and perspectives. In this respect, it is important to be aware that personality and self-image are often key determinants in setting personal objectives, defining outcomes, and constructing the parameters within which any one of us can grow and interact with their environment. As Elliot puts it, ‘We often think of the self as primarily a private domain, an inner realm of personal thoughts, values, strivings, emotions and desires. Yet this view, which seems largely self-evident, is in contrast to the way in which sociologists study the framing of personal identity and the self.’ (3) Therefore, locating oneself within a social continuum, in some ways a necessary social skill and a pre-requisite of social/group orientation, can be both limiting and damaging. It is also important to consider cultural identity and the way national, regional, chronological and even familial micro cultures are profoundly constructive of our own life politics. It has become a truism in life-politics that emotional awareness – or emotional intelligence – is a fundamental determinant of how individuals will approach, engage with, and function with regard to social structures, whether the latter are in the public or private sphere. As Goleman explains, ‘self-awareness – recognizing a feeling as it happens – is the keystone of emotional intelligence….the ability to monitor feelings from moment to moment is crucial to psychological insight and self-understanding.’ (4) Some individuals may have this capacity through innate cognitive ability, whilst others must attempt to construct it using deliberately reflective techniques. However, the experience of the module has illustrated to me that it is not an option: interpersonal effectiveness basically demands that individuals exercise this facility, or develop it, as appropriate. As Bolton explains, ‘Reflective practice and reflexivity are not subjects but a pedagogical approach which should pervade the curriculum.’ (5) This is not say that formally defined subject knowledge, academic skills, or the didactic position, itself, are in any way less relevant or marginal in the curriculum process. It does indicate however that the ability to manage the dynamics of learning, and to demonstrate it through interpersonal growth, has become more prominent. It is fair to argue then, as Fraser and Bosanquet have done, that ‘…Students are the receptors of the curriculum and their impact upon it varies…’ (6) I found that, in the interactive learning environment, the effectiveness of the curriculum was determined and defined to a significant degree by us as learners, and in particular by our willingness to contribute new knowledge as perceptions. In this respect, the module was As Fraser and Bosanquet point out, ‘The changing nature of knowledge relevant to the discipline, and research in the discipline area, also influence the structure and learning goals of the programme…’. (7).

I consider that one of the key aspects of the module was its capacity to develop interpersonal working and the ability to work within a group dynamic. The resolution of issues, coordination of effort, and maximisation of individual skills through delegation are all highly transferable skills, which added to the developmental strengths of the formal curriculum. As Davis observes, ‘Whilst there is demand for the traditional ability to analyse, think critically an work independently…’, there is also a growing demand for ‘…transferable skills….communication, team working,…and problem solving.’ This requires ‘careful curriculum planning, support mechanisms, teaching methodologies and assessment strategies…’ (8). As discussed above, there are a range of factors which form the individual’s attitudes and effectiveness within this dynamic, in terms of what they deem acceptable or effective approaches. Many of these are culturally formed, and may be interpreted within frameworks such Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Index. Within this, Hofestede projects, each culture has tolerances and behavioural norms which dictate group behaviour, as well as strategic thinking within organisations. He defines these criteria as uncertainty avoidance, power distance, long/short term orientation, gender, i.e. masculinity and femininity, and individualism/collectivism. (9). Perhaps more revealing than this scheme of wide cultural sub-groups, however, is the related idea that these are just one component in tripartite scheme which includes universal human traits, ‘learned’ behaviour and values, and individual personality traits. (10) I consider that the recognition of individual strengths and weaknesses is a key factor, not only in the recognition of individual contributions, but in effective team building. I have definitely learned that assembling a team is a skill in itself. Simply pushing together a random group of individuals is not team-building.

Correspondingly, one learning point which I can take from team working on the module, is that different individuals place value upon different aspects of interpersonal dealings, and that this has to recognised, despite personal preferences. For example, some co-learners on the module – and through logical extension, some colleagues in a professional situation – placed a high value on directness within relationships, and preferred immediate action to a deferred approach. Conversely, some personalities felt far more secure with an incremental approach to issues, preferring to delay action until the maximum possible information and analysis was assembled. Some individuals placed a high premium on relationship building through personal interaction, and took this as the inception of a trust network, before moving on to the specifics of a problem or issue. Meanwhile, some individuals were comfortable with the exact reverse of this; they wanted to stay focused on the dimensions of the issue, and preferred to leave the interpersonal dimensions of team building to take their natural course. The main learning point which emerged from this for me, was that such characteristics needed to be recognised, accepted, and factored into team building, as well as its functioning dynamic. No one individual conforms absolutely to a specific personality or behavioural type: however, their dominant personality traits are likely to be those which emerge at key decision making moments. To get the best out of people and teams, the nature of their contribution needs to be taken into account. As Sonnetag observes, ‘There is relatively consistent empirical evidence for a positive relationship between specific aspects of individual well being and....performance.’

Example Education Essay: Process of self evaluation, reflection upon learning, and planning for future developments 9.2 of 10 on the basis of 3708 Review.