Reflections And Learning Styles Essays Examples
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REFLECTIVE ESSAY ON LEARNING EXPERIENCE
In today’s business organizations, working in teams is a common arrangement. When organizations create teams, there are specific projects or goals that need to be achieved. A team is a tool that ensures accomplishment of these goals. Leaders and managers must then be able to understand group behavior and dynamics to ensure a well-functioning team. Therefore, systematic planning and implementation processes are required to guarantee achievement of objectives and remove any barriers to team building. This can be attained through team empowerment, training, and constant feedback. Additionally, deciding how big a team should be and understanding the roles each member plays in the team will help each one contribute positively to the success of the group. Regardless of the reasons for forming teams, they all go through various stages based on Bruce Tuckman’s Stages of Team Formation.
This paper focuses on my reflections and experiences being a part of a team. Given scenarios to work on, I will determine at which stage I already am according to the stages described by Tuckman. Through this paper, I will also lay down insights about my learning style as defined by Honey and Mumford’s learning styles theory.
Tuckman’s Stages of Team Formation
According to Tuckman’s Stages of Team Formation, forming a team takes time especially when the members start off as strangers. However, there are stages to undergo before a team becomes a cohesive one working towards the same goals. For instance, the forming stage, which is the first stage of team formation, presents a time when members are mostly polite towards one another, while some are feeling apprehensive for not getting a full grasp of the project yet (Heathfield). Still there are those who just get on with the tasks excitedly. In some instances, members work independently considering that there is still not much rapport within the group. But the dynamics changes as the group matures and becomes more comfortable with one another. The storming stage is distinguished by competition and conflict among members as each one vies to ensure that her idea is considered among the other ideas presented by other group members (“Tuckman’s Team Development Model”). Usually, this stage begins due to conflict between team members as they begin to bend their ideas, feelings, and attitudes to go with the team’s goals and expectations. Arguments and personality clashes are typical. As a team gradually learns to resolve their issues and differences, they enter the norming stage, which is when they learn to appreciate each other’s strengths and learn more about one another. Team members also begin to develop stronger commitment to the goals. The final stage, performing stage, is the time when team members work without friction and support one another, the goals, and the processes (Eyre, 2009).
Honey and Mumford’s Learning Style Theory
Peter Honey and Alan Mumford came up with a questionnaire that identified the type of learning style an individual is apt to follow. It supposedly identifies an individual’s learning preferences based on habits one has developed over the years. Among the questions in the questionnaire are how much an individual takes risks, whether he or she seeks out new things to do, if an individual takes things for granted or would rather check things out for himself, if the person tends to judge other people’s ideas, and if one usually talks more than he or she listens, among others. Based on these questions, an individual learns whether he or she is an activist, pragmatist, theorist, or reflector (“Learning Styles Questionnaire”).
Activists are individuals who want to always involve themselves in the experience. They want to actually experience doing the task and tend to act first before thinking about the consequences of the action. Pragmatists are eager to try out new things. They get tired easily with discussions and are always looking for ideas that they can apply on their jobs or tasks at hand (“Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles”). Theorists have a tendency to become perfectionists and thus, appreciate step-by-step methods of doing things (“Learning Styles in Learning Design”). They are often analytical in their thoughts instead of subjective in their thinking. Reflectors prefer to see various ways of looking at a situation. They get different perspectives first before making any conclusions. They are great listeners and after hearing other people’s views, would offer his or her own perceptions (“Embedding Learning Theories”).
Our group was composed of six girls and our task was to talk about Marks and Spencer’s company background and financial performance. As a team, we initially had difficulty managing our time and coming up with a specific schedule for our meetings. It was awkward at first, but in time, I warmed up to them as they have been very helpful in teaching me about some tasks that were not so clear to me in the beginning. Initially, I was having difficulty dealing with my teammates, which caused me to stress and worry about the project. There were also instances when I would rather work independently as I thought it would make the tasks easier and faster to complete. However, as we began to warm up as a team, I realized that cooperation is what will help push us to achieve our goals and work well with the team. I learned to manage my time so that I would stay organized with my work. I realized that I cannot only depend on myself for what I know because there are so many ideas and learnings that I can glean from my team mates. With so many ideas laid down on the table, I learned to listen well and compromise to reach a better understanding with each other.
The Presentation exercise made me realize that working in teams can make work a lot easier and could lead to an involving and satisfying experience for all of us. While it was difficult at first for me to grasp the idea of working in a team set up, the whole process has opened my eyes to the benefits of teamwork and the importance of open communication among team members. It opened my eyes not only on the shortcomings of my teammates, but more importantly, on how else I can be a better and productive member of our team. My sense of responsibility has grown, which made me realize that there is still room for improvement, that I should make better researches, and I should practice more if I want to be a positive contributor to any teams.
The second part of the activity was about negotiation, which tested my persuasion and negotiation skills. In this exercise, my role was that of the buyer of a car, but I had to convince the vendor to sell the car at a lower price and take my car instead. It also entailed that I convince the seller not to take any money from me anymore. Thus, I had to give the seller a good deal by offering more deals in order to give me the case and take the old one at a price I wanted to buy the other car. In the end, I was able to convince her to see the transaction my way and she accepted the deal.
This project has taught me about persuasion and diplomacy, as I could not use harsh actions and language in order to convince the seller. By doing so, acting calmly and diplomatically, I was able to create more possible solutions and compromises, which the seller also approved of. This activity has also taught me about “give and take” in the business sense of the word, which meant thinking of alternatives to solutions. By widening the scope of the transaction, it opened my mind to various ways of dealing with the issue, instead of just reacting to what is at hand, I was able to present various solutions, compromise with the seller, and learn how to give and take fairly. Another realization that I had with this exercise is the importance of preparation and understanding the topic. It meant going to the discussion with a clear understanding of the topic and the goals of the exercise. Although I was able to convince the seller to see my point of view, I know I could have presented better arguments had I done more research about selling and brushing up on my negotiation and persuasion skills.
This exercise has proven that I am a reflector when it comes to my learning style because I ensured that I see the situation clearly and think of various solutions and alternatives first before presenting my arguments to the seller. Because of that style, I was fair in dealing with the seller and was able to help the seller make an informed decision (CommApp).
The exercise has firmly established that teams move through the various stages at a pace depending on the dynamics between the members. From forming a team to storming, the movement depends on how fast a team can feel at home with one another, including their comfort level in voicing out their opinions that could cause conflict with the team. However, despite the situation, what is important is that team members are able to move past the conflict and enter the norming stage, which is characterized by team cohesion. When this happens, then the team is ready for the final aspect of process, which is performing. While not all teams reach this point, those groups that do shows that they did enjoy working with one another and can come back and work together again in future projects. This is what happened to our team – from a group of uneasy strangers, we were able to move past our differences and come up with a well-performing team.
My learning style from both exercises showed that I am both an activist and a reflector. I like to dive into the task right away as exemplified by my eagerness to complete my tasks> On the other hand, there is still this part of me that stays back and views the whole situation prior to coming up with a final decision. This difference in learning styles in both activities simply shows that while I may have a preferred learning method, all the styles may be dependent on one another. Thus, depending on the situation and the importance of the task, my reaction or learning approach would also adapt to the situation or task.
CommApp. (n.d.). Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles. [online]. Available at: http://www.comapp-online.de/materials/en/Handout_14_LearningStyles_EN.pdf
Embedding Learning Theories. (n.d.). [online]. Available at: http://www2.plymouth.ac.uk/ed/ELT%20documents/umistlearningstyles.pdf
Eyre, E. (2009). Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing – Understanding the Stages of Team foundation. [online]. Available at: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_86.htm
Four (Five) Stages of Team Development – Bruce Tuckman. [online]. Available at: http://www.washington.edu/research/rapid/resources/changeModels/mc_team_development.pdf
Heathfield, S.M. (n.d.). What are the Stages of Team Development. [online]. Available at: http://humanresources.about.com/od/teambuilding/f/team_stages.htm
Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles. (n.d.). [online]. Available at: http://repository-intralibrary.leedsmet.ac.uk/open_virtual_file_path/i391n604179t/LearningStylesSrc/7.Learning+styles/LS-honeymumford.html
Learning Styles in Learning Design. (2002). [online]. Available at: http://www.bouchami.com/news.htm
Learning Styles Questionnaire. (n.d.). [online]. Available at: http://www.ejtn.eu/PageFiles/6343/Learning_Styles_Questionnaire.pdf
Mobbs, Richard. (n.d.). Honey and Mumford Learning Styles. [online]. Available at: http://www.le.ac.uk/users/rjm1/etutor/resources/learningtheories/honeymumford.html
Stein, J. (n.d.). Using the Stages of Development. [online]. Available at: http://hrweb.mit.edu/learning-development/learning-topics/teams/articles/stages-development
The Experiential Learning Cycle. [online]. Available at: http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/experience.htm
Tuckman’s Team Development Model. (n.d.). [online]. Available at: http://salvos.org.au/scribe/sites/2020/files/Resources/Transitions/HANDOUT_-_Tuckmans_Team_Development_Model.pdf
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