Starting personal and gripping than it may have
Starting the BA(Hons) Education course has been both exciting and challenging as I have experienced new people, a new place, new work ethics and new problems. As well as this, using the experience of studying Social Sciences for a year abroad at Universiteit van Amsterdam has helped me overcome a few of these problems. I enjoyed writing the 800-word formative assignment due to the freedom of the task. I chose to write about the national curriculum and the current debate over who should control it. However, having used a slightly different referencing style whilst studying last year (APA), changing to Oxford referencing seemed daunting, especially as I was still slightly unsure of APA referencing styles. Presentations, on the other hand, have never been something that particularly scares me or embarrasses me. Due to the nature of my course choices last year and their inclusion of multiple opportunities to present, I overcame any shyness or uncomfortable feelings that usually correlate with speaking in front of a group of people, especially peers. Although I feel confident in presenting, in the past I have relied heavily on notes to regurgitate the contents and therefore almost abandoned any eye contact with my audience and also became rather self-aware which in turn made me fidget. This, therefore, meant that my presentation was less personal and gripping than it may have been if I had relied less on notes.My approach to both the essay task and presentation differed noticeably. I approached my formative essay with a clear mind and little opinion on the matter in an attempt to gather the fairest points for each argument. Ignoring one’s own opinion, even in just the research and reading, is hard but also stops the favouritism of one argument over the other. After much research, I began finding the strongest arguments for teachers, government and other and compared them, building my essay on comparisons. At this point I had my own, arguably educated, opinion in which I used to give my final argument a more persuasive feel. I struggle with the timing of the essay writing process, mainly the motivation to get started as once ‘ve begun writing I really enjoy it and have no motivation issues. Leaving essays to the last minute is a major downfall in my work ethic, however, I believe it’s the pressure of the looming deadline that motivates me to write effectively and efficiently. I approached both presentations, again, very differently and found the group presentation easier than the 5 minute independent one. I believe the process was different due to having to be compatible with how your partner works to deadlines which gave me the push I needed to get it not only completed, but completed well, before the deadline. This gave us time to practice and meet with our lecturer to discuss the improvements that could be made before our final presentation. The short, independent presentation went well due to my confident nature however I could’ve done a lot more reading around the subject before to make it more concise and to improve the flow of the work. If i’d have started earlier i would have had time to do this rather than reading the minimal with little time. As well as this, because it was the first presentation I was a little nervous and was told after that I had been quite fidgety and said ‘um’ a lot. I think saying ‘um’ stems from a lack of complete knowledge which is from not reading enough. I was fairly confident with most aspects of the formative writing assessment task and it’s delivery, as I am a confident writer, however, the referencing did worry me. Not only this but my lack of referencing confidence led to other silly mistakes being made, such as not double spacing my work. Similarly, there were a few silly mistakes with the presentation, although it wasn’t much of a daunting task for me as such, due to practice but, as previously mentioned, natural nerves led to a few mistakes such as ‘um’ and fidgeting. For both tasks, I used strengths I already knew I had, such as my strong writing style and confidence in myself and work. Not only did I reuse strengths, I worked on them to improve them, an example being the excessive ‘um’s. Even though I was confident in myself, I didn’t know the content as well as I’d have liked which led to hesitations throughout. In hindsight, by practising, especially the independent presentation, I could have avoided this issue. Schön (1987) called this reflection-on-action, which is reflecting on a task previously accomplished, and by doing so and learning from the reflection I can help better my next presentation and avoid ‘um’s and fidgeting. I faced more difficulties in completing my independent presentation as it was the first one I’d done in new months and therefore relied too heavily on my notes and in turn failed to make any contact with my audience. The difficulty I faced during the formative writing was actually getting started on the reading for the essay. I struggled to find the motivation to start, however as soon as I started reading, my interest grew along with my motivation. For our presentations we received feedback from lecturers as well as peers. I found having feedback from different perspectives very helpful as the lecturers focussed more on the content of our presentations whereas our peers commented more on the performance whilst giving the presentation. Having both helped me make the changes i needed not only on the presentation but to my own behaviours to improve my ability to speak confidently in front of others.The formative feedback given not only gave me improvements but also cemented the positive attitude i had towards my writing style. The main criticism was the citation and referencing as it was done poorly. Schön (1987) in his work identifies two types of reflection, the first (mentioned above) is reflection-on-action (retrospective thinking) and the second is reflection-in-action (thinking on your feet). I believe reflection-in-action as being a more dynamic approach to reflection as they can make changes before problems occur rather than reflecting on the problems after they’ve occurred. By using Schon’s reflection-in-action during essay writing, I will find not only the referencing and citation easier but my writing style will also improve, as I will be thinking more critically as well as re-reading multiple times thus having a clearer and more revised view of what I’m physically writing and what I intend to write.My notes were something I went over and revised a few times after my practice presentation. I made them clearer, more precise and easier to understand. Through doing so, it meant that during the presentation I wouldn’t rely on the notes (like I did in the independent presentation) and could focus on what I know, using notes only as prompts and reassurance. As well as this, by changing my stance and using more of a power stance- something we were taught during Learning in Higher Education, the fidgeting calmed down with my nerves. A priority in my learning would be working on my reading skills and improving them significantly. By doing so, Not just reading but finding the relevant readings more efficiently and not getting distracted on the way. My note taking skills from readings also need work, making them more precise and clear.I clarified previous thoughts on my learning as well as learning new things. Reflection in this sense has been a relatively new direction of my learning and a technique I plan to reuse as I’ve found it incredibly useful not only for improving the quality of my work but for reflecting on myself and my sometimes questionable work ethic. Boud et al (1985) speak about how reflection is used to engage and explore experiences to find a new understanding and appreciation. This outlook is more positive as it doesn’t mention challenges as such as changing things that went wrong, but to find a new or different 3way to appreciate the experience or the work in progress which should also lead to more enjoyment, and therefore a better work ethic and more motivation.