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Reflective Practice and Learning Logs Report

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Updated: Apr 30th, 2022

Introduction

Reflection involves momentous slip back into previous earning experience and developing inferences on the same in relation to already possessed knowledge. It’s a process of systematically evaluating past experiences constructively (Daudelin, M. W., 1996). Reflective thinking is the “active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusions to which it tends [that] includes a conscious and voluntary effort to establish belief upon a firm basis of evidence and rationality” (Dewey, 1933). It should be a habitual activity, an ongoing conversation with the self (although the conversation may, at times, include others) that moves hand in hand with the experience” (Goldsmith, 1995).

Reflection is a cognitive process in which individuals delay their activity and think about what they are doing/saying and contemplate on their actions and choices. Reflection involves students’ thinking on a task, content or process of learning, including its wider context (mainly meta-cognition). It can be carried out before (planning), during (monitoring) or after the task (evaluating). Task-reflection thereby targets three separate yet interconnected goals at three different stages: at the planning stage task-reflection aims at developing the student’s capacity to plan ahead and to make informative decisions as to what he or she intend to do and what are his or her expectations and goals. This is an important stage in the development of personalized and self-regulating learning. At this stage students can address an array of issues ranging from learning styles, preferred environment to choice of topics.

Planning ahead develops the students’ capacity to hypostasize, makes for the acquisition of problem-solving skills and prepares the students to set for themselves predetermined goals and tasks (Reid, 1993). At the monitoring stage, students can begin to address difficulties that they may have encountered along the way and deepen their understanding as to how to make informed planning. This stage enhances the students’ thinking about the learning process or specific task. At the evaluation stage, students can check their performance within a specific task, learn more about the learning process and identify. By task-reflection students take on an active role in their particular learning activities and attempt to consciously organize and control the learning environment and content. Student’s reflection is paramount for the development of a critical-evaluative attitude, independent thinking, and promoting skills for scientific reasoning. Responsibility is central here for the student begins to view himself from the perspective of an evaluator, or perhaps, from the teacher’s perspective, and therefore acquires the capacity to take the role of an (authoritative) “other” (Boud, 2001). Various academic literature form basis for evaluation and critical discussion of individual development process, plan and techniques employed. Much emphasis is however placed on individual reflective capability development. The style of writing, reflective processes, brainstorming tools, presentation techniques, approach used in collection of information will be reflected upon on basis of the learning logs prepared.

Summary file

The summary file provides an overview of individual development worth. It draws upon the techniques and apparatus employed in management of the situation. It is important to note that throughout the DPP, the student employed various individual management approaches in order to come with the final product or lesson outcomes. This section provides a summary of the management approaches adopted by a student in relation to what various literature advocates for. Primarily it focuses on the student’s journey towards professional development. It provides an assessment of how the processes described in the learning logs took the students through a self development journey (see appendix for learning logs). Reflective skills are widely accredited in improvement of student learning processes and educational professional engagement (Rogers 2001). Despite its widespread acknowledge across the education fraternity, its elevated rhetorical demands make its mastery a complex process requiring systematic explicit teaching.

Personal development is a lifetime process. As one psychologist once put it, what one becomes is by far important than what one gets. What individual gets is influenced by what he becomes. Perhaps the fundamental question to ask is ‘what am I becoming? Rather than what am I getting? The two are more like Siamese twins and what one becomes eventually dictates what he gets. What am becomes determines the kind of individual he becomes. Individual development is therefore critical to the processes of learning and task applications. Learning process is just as continuous as self-development. M Experience teaches a lot. Yet we know that it is the reflection on experiences that leads to learning, not merely the learning experience itself. It is examining ones underlying assumptions and the consequences of your actions. Reflection requires being conscious of all aspects of your college experience and how closely they interact with each other.

While individual portfolio may consist of primarily written reflections, other types of reflections inform the written expressions. Throughout learning, a number of reflections emerge including written, oral, individual and collective. Reflection occurs both at individual and at collective level. Sharing with other learners is a critical aspect of effective learning. Other people’s feedbacks positively inform our feedback and open new thought dimensions that were initially blocked to the mind. Generally, each reflection reveals and enriches individual thinking and learning.

According to John Dewey, an American philosopher and psychologist, personal experience value is critical to individual development. He put little emphasis of the role of nature and instead emphasized that human understanding is nurtured by the environment and interaction with other people. His assumption emphasize that knowledge is acquired by an individual through experiential learning. He stressed that the prime purpose of learning was to prepare individuals for independent thinking within democratic societies and that individual reflection of personal experiences offers the foundations and attributes necessary for successful life (Dewey, 1938).

Piaget on the rather hand assert that individuals are born with reflexes which facilitate their interaction with the environment. However, he notes that these reflexes are gradually replaced by constructed mental schemes and structures which enhance their interaction and adaptation to their respective environments. Adaptation is a product of both assimilation and accommodation and therefore critical to modern constructivism. As people interact with their environment, they formulate and manipulate knowledge into well constructed cognitive structures. Discrepancies in mental and environmental systems results into a corresponding adjustment, either through assimilation or accommodation of the disparities. In either way, interaction results into adaptation. Learning is likewise a process of environmental adjustment and accommodation. Through projects, the human develops new perspective of life and approach to issues handling. It is a unity of maturation and knowledge incorporation that advances individuals into new stages of development.

Best practices in writing academic essays

Academic writing is part and parcel of any educational initiative. Most of learning duration is spent writing academic papers for purposes of evaluation. Throughout the learning duration, learners develop new ideas and approaches towards knowledge internalization. There exist no definitive way of writing academic papers. However various scholars and institutions of higher learning have adopted various approaches which enhance writings presentability. Academic writing begins with thoughts of what the essay is all about. It involves exploration various perspectives on the issue to be written on. Style, authors experience and ability improves the approach adopted in writing such papers. Dewey defines academic writing as an intellectual way of expressing ideas, issues, theories and concepts in a manner that is understandable to other people. It is vital that fundamental values, assumptions and perspectives are well expounded on prior to start of writing an academic paper.

Primarily, academic writings are supposed to critique ideas and provide explanations for such critique. Ultimately an essay is just as good as how well the author is able to come up with ideas and appropriately organize them. Originality is likewise a fundamental aspect of academic writing. In the recent past, plagiarism or rather inappropriate use of other peoples work has become of increased concern more so in consideration of the broadened technological space for academic dishonesty. Our writing shapes our perspectives and opinions of the people we interact with. It has often been mentioned than artists express their perceptions and opinions with regard to various societal issues through their writings. The same is true of everyone. Often what one writes tells of his perception of the environment. The importance of academic could not be overstressed more than having it at the initial lecture studies. The lecture covered important aspects of academic writing including citation styles, referencing basics and language use, among others. Importance of originality in writing acknowledgement of others when borrowing ideas was also stressed.

Learning reflections

Acquiring knowledge through reflection is not a new idea. It can be traced back to the ancient Greek Philosophers. In its modern form reflection, as a way of learning from experiences, can be traced back to the work of John Dewey in the 1930s.The process of reflection may lead us to change our perspective of a given situation or to undertake a different action if the situation reoccurs. Reflection will not always offer us a solution but we may learn to understand and clarify situations that would otherwise have remained an obstruction to our professional development. Thus reflection allows us to speculate on how a situation might have been handled differently. It also allows us to consider what additional knowledge might have been helpful.

Kolb’s learning cycle (shown below) shows how a reflective process can benefit your development. Kolb (1984) argues for a relationship between thinking and experience. He views experiential learning as a cycle involving action and reflection, theory and practice.

Cycle involving action and reflection, theory and practice
Figure 1: Cycle involving action and reflection, theory and practice (Source: Kolb, 1984)

Reflection is about reviewing and evaluating our thoughts, theories, beliefs and assumptions. Education researchers have found that, people who do this achieve more effective long term learning, which relates specifically to their personal development and practice. We engage in reflection for a number of reasons. Jasper (2003) suggests that its purpose is to “develop strategies for survival throughout our lives”. She suggests that we are building life skills from our learning and goes on to argue that:

“An inability to build life skills as a result of learning from our experiences puts us at risk. For instance, think of the care and attention that small children need to keep them safe when outside, or the problems that people who suffer from dementia have as a result of ’forgetting’ the fundamental lessons of safety in daily life” (Jasper, 2003:56).

Learning logs offer reliable tools for reflection of learning initiatives. A learning log is basically a record of individual learning experiences. It is not compelling that it be a formal document. Often its unique makes it difficult to judge whether a learning log is right or wrong. However, it is a reliable tool in evaluation of how well learners have been able to grow in knowledge and experience. It offers an avenue for recoding, structuring, thinking and reflection of the event upon which it is based. The importance of reflection in learning was widely covered. Additionally, the modes of application of such practices were also deliberated upon. Most importantly, the importance of logs in facilitating structured learning was broadly stressed.

The lecture helped me in understanding the importance of noting down critical lesson aspects and later deliberating on the same before coming up with individual conclusions. Attentive listening, analysis and ultimately reflection on acquired knowledge are key lessons that coverage of this topic presented. Additionally, the criticality of reflective practice emerges when educators and learners consider how educational processes may be subject to distortion by undergirds, and how to evaluate individual untested hegemonic assumptions which appear real but bring to question individual perceptions (Brookfield, 1995: 8). Hegemonic assumptions include those ideas we think are designed to our advantage while in essence they work against the same.

Formulation of research questions and hypothesis

Developing research questions as well as the hypothesis are crucial to the success of a research. They shape all other aspects of the research as they are the study epicentre. Often this part is complicated and slight variation can cause the whole research project failure. Research question and hypothesis formulation starts with identification of kind of information being sought. They determine how the whole project is management. Project management involves task series which define individual stages of accomplishing a given objective. Everyday, we undertake some form of project although not based on planning schedules as is normal done with typical projects. However, all projects have objectives or performance goals of which they intend to achieve. Daudelin (1996) mentions that successes of a project are dependent on three critical factors including project duration, project resources, and project quality. While DPP project did not comprehensively cover these aspects, I realized that each is fundamental to a projects succeeds. Participating members offered human resources and without them perhaps success would have been elusive or require more time. The ultimate quality of DPP project can be best defined in terms of the learning outcomes. If, or if not the learning outcomes will be able to adequately prepare the students to undertake the functions intended by the unit.

A typical project begins at initiation whereby its goals are clearly defined. The goals form basis for planning for the project and ultimately implementation. After initiation, project scope is well defined and an approach to execution prepared. This will form the basis for control of the project throughout implementation. A projects failure is more pronounced if it fails to achieve its objectives and produce desirable deliverables. Lecturer knowledge in project management practicality guided me throughout the DPP project. I realized that when often we find project planning a difficult task, planning eases the task to unimaginable extents if adopted.

Methodology for presentation of academic work

Content presentation is critical part of any project. It starts with understanding of the targeted audience. Papers presented for purposes of evaluation may vary slightly to those presented in real life situations. However, significant variations are recorded when the audience are so different. A presentation made to illiterate population can not in any way be similar to one made for a team of professionals. It would be vital to know the level of knowledge of targeted audience. However, there is no question of a presentation without appropriate content. Regardless of this facts presentation styles and tools determine how well the audiences focus and ultimately understand the presented content. Presentation aids and tools create a pint of interaction between the presenter and the audience are bale to freely interact with the presented items and make corrections where appropriate. Additionally, they delve into the concept and ask questions which stimulate further thinking. Most persons are more likely to remember mental images as compared to words. The presenter should therefore consider it a responsibility to create presentation aids which stimulate more sense and engagement of the audience. Visual aids are good tools for doing this for as long as they are relevant to the presentation and offer good quality. Cheap and poorly looking visual images have the potential of compromising the overall presentation. Lecturers on presentation development help individual learn new ways of communicating with audience other than the traditional oral and written words. Learners are able to learn new ways of creating a stimulating link between the presentation and the audience and hence stimulate deeper understanding. Visual aids take the audience through a stimulatory procedure of understanding what lies within the presentations wedding. The audiences are able to create visual imaginations of the processes being discussed and hence deepen their understanding.

Choosing appropriate research methodology

Most of us are at one point in life researchers. However, most people rarely think of themselves as researchers. Research basically involves collection, analysis and coming to conclusion with regard to certain information. This is something that happens everyday. Research approaches as basically classified as either quantitative or qualitative. Most researchers hold divergent opinions regarding which of the two approaches best represent the actual finding of a research initiative. However, during lecturers, it became apparent that each methods has specific context within which it perfectly fits. None can claim to be superior to the other. While qualitative methods can be successfully used to evaluate a given research query, it may be inapplicable in another. This compounds the importance of deeply understanding the research methodologies and being able to identify and effectively use one which best suits an individual’s are area of interest. Complex researches with various variables requires complex decision making tool as compared to simple research topics. Decision making ability is a crucial part in research development. This is an area that was adequately covered by the lecturer materials by equipping students with appropriate knowledge to help in choice of research approach to adopt with respect to a given methodology. The DPP project further offered and venue for student to further critically evaluate the research methods against each other. Additionally, it equips students with key knowledge on factors which may hinder successful research and hence take precautionary measures well in advance.

Development Plan

Evaluation of presented summary provides an opportunity for development an advancement plan to further let students improve their learning growth and reflective practice. The table below illustrates the plan..

Learning type Objective Line of action/approach resources Duration
Best approaches to acquisition of knowledge Skills of acquiring knowledge are fundamental to learning growth of any individual. They help an individual to be able comprehend and appropriately interpret information. This aspect will target to build reflective capability in comprehension of knowledge information. Engage in expanded reading and reflect on the reading to come up with own conclusion.
Critically evaluate the in-depth meaning of the course work materials presented.
Courses materials.
Library resources.
Internet services
2 months
Decision making ability Decision making is crucial to individual and professional growth. This aspect of learning will target to build upon ability to make crucial decisions and to critical evaluate issues and draw rational conclusions. This will impact on other aspects important for individual growth. Widely read cases studies presented both in course work materials and other books and appropriately make own decisions. Weigh the decision against the decision presented within the text and critically evaluate which outweighs the other. Case study materials
Decision making guides
1 month
Research approaches in project implementation To expound my knowledge of the various research methodologies and context of application of each. Read books on research methods.
Go through various research materials and establish the justification for the researcher’s choice of the respective research approaches.
Seek advice from supervisor on why one research approach may override the other in relevance to a particular study.
Widely read on data analysis tools including SPPS and Excel among others..
Course supervisor.
Relevant books.
Proquest dissertation library.
Previous research.
Development Course.
2 weeks.
Relating theory to practice This covers interpretation part of findings. By the need of this exercise, I should be able to critically evaluate and come with rational recommendations to a problem in relation to existing literature on the same. Case evaluation.
Wide reading.
Library & Internet resources.
Worked cases.
Sample case material for evaluation.
1 month
Learning Log Number: 1
Event Title Overview of Research Approaches
Description of Event What happened?
Learning about different Type of academic sources e.g. government reports, company reports. market research companies and journals, importance of literature review
Conclusions Reached What have I learned from this event?
  • Identify those articles and authors that are most extensively acknowledged. And How I can narrow my focus for a good proposal topic that will lead to an effective dissertation. What should be avoided in a literature review and its importance? How can I improve my literature review
What have I learned about myself?
  • That I need to recognise the best author in my field.
  • The weakness points in my literature review
What are the implications for my Professional and Personal Development
Be aware of reliable and valid sources. Accept different opinions.
Ability of identify a research problem.
Action/Next Steps How can I take this learning forward?
Visiting library to search more about finance best authors.
Reading my previous assignments to identify my weakness points
When will this happen?
This week
Learning Log Number: 2
Event Title Formulating Research Question(s) and Objectives
Description of Event What happened?
We were given an important activity to learn how we can set our RQ and the objectives. we took an example of good RQ a related objectives and methodology , check list to asses your work
Conclusions Reached What have I learned from this event?
What should be In a proposal ( purpose of choosing this topic – the way I will used to answer the RQ (methodology) – objectives will be reached in the research- who will get benefit from my research and what results I expect to get from it). how to formulate my RQ e.g. if I have a expected answer then I can set my RQ as a hypothesis,
What have I learned about myself?
My research question didn’t cover all the 4 elements (suitable – acceptable-feasible-effective) my RQ should be feasible so it has enough data , useful literature, focussed , I didn’t know that there is a difference between bibliography and reference page
Action/Next Steps How can I take this learning forward?
  • Need to develop my research question and the objective of my dissertation
  • Have a look in the proposal pre-forma
When will this happen?
This week
Learning Log Number: 3
Event Title Methodology for presentation of academic work
Description of Event We discussed the basic principles of writing good academic papers.
Conclusions Reached This event helped me realize that good academic papers require structured writing. A checklist may be appropriate if a good academic paper comprising all necessary elements is to be formulated.
The event further highlighted the importance of originality and hence development of plagiarism frees papers. I realized that this is more of an ethical than a legal obligation. Importance of making reference to existing literature within the area of study was also of great importance to the overall research work.
Action/Next Steps
  • Discussions on the best approaches to writing of good academic papers.
  • Review of literature material on best methods in writing academic essays.
This happens in the first and second week of DPP
Learning Log Number: 4
Event Title Choosing research methodology
Description of Event Review of existing methods of conducting research and discussing which bets suites which scenario
Conclusions Reached Most researchers hold divergent opinions regarding which of the two approaches best represent the actual finding of a research initiative. However, during lecturers, it became apparent that each method has specific context within which it perfectly fits, different researchers choose different methods which suite their intended goals and objectives.
In choosing my research methodology I should be open to the idea of evaluating various alternatives before coming with a conclusive decision as to which one to adopt.
Action/Next Steps
  • Review and decide on which research method would best present the results of my research.
This will take place within the current two weeks.
Learning Log Number: 5
Event Title Building positive reflective practices
Description of Event We identified case scenarios, reflected on them and shared our reflection. We also outlined reflections to our line of reflection and identified the best approaches.
Reading of resources with relevant materials on best practises.
Conclusions Reached
  • This exercise helped me realize, tat other than building on knowledge, our reflective practices are also shaped with experience and the environment.
Reflection is not always correct at times it’s important to re-evaluate and compare to other persons opinion. However, it successfully builds on ones imagination and hence knowledge comprehension capacity.
Action/Next Steps Attempt reflecting on key past cases and comparing my thought solutions to those adopted then.
This exercise will happen in the last two weeks of DPP.
Learning Log Number: 6
Event Title Relating theoretical information to real cases scenarios
Description of Event We compared our reflective propositions with existing literature in order to justify the final conclusions drawn on the study area.
Conclusions Reached
  • Every research draws from some past literature, identifies the gaps and selects the possible area to enrich researches related to chosen area of study. It is therefore critical to that all prospective research gather relevant and useful existing materials prior to commencement of any research.
Action/Next Steps Use past experiences as the basis and guide of my research philosophy. Re-evaluate my chosen topic and establish if it will be able to fill the existing literature gaps on the same.
This exercise will happen in the last two weeks of DPP.
Learning Log Number: 7
Event Title Enhancing decision making abilities
Description of Event The event involved identifying situations that demand increased decision making abilities reflect on the best approaches. Review various proposed decision making guides to come up with best solutions.
Conclusions Reached Decision making should not be based on choices but rather on facts. Decision makers need to critically evaluate existing case scenarios constructively in enhancing success of their projects.
Action/Next Steps Review my decision making approaches and incorporate the bets practices emerging during the DPP.
This exercise will take place in the last part of the week.
Learning Log Number: 8
Event Title Knowledge management
Description of Event Learning new techniques of managing, communicating and utilizing knowledge to the benefit of the project.
Conclusions Reached Knowledge is a critical resource to every project. However, if not well managed, it is just as useless as not having it. It is therefore important to adopt best practices in its management.
Action/Next Steps Conduct a critical review of my knowledge management and utilization practices.
This exercise will take place in the second last week of DPP.

Research questionnaire review

Researching on the factors related to post-graduate study form an interesting area of study. This paper set out to research on this area and as a pre-requisite the best approach to sampling is as described in the next paragraph. The questionnaire is based on the identified research questions and observations relating to the topic. The questions used are biased towards answering questions relating to the topic. A number of question structures are used to ensure that maximum part of the research is adequately unraveled.

A pilot survey using the questionnaire revealed a number of factors which could influence the outcome yet had not been taken into consideration. Firstly, it lacked a clear definition of the facilities that the students had to choose from. The pilot survey revealed that some students had little choices to make either because of a pre-defined schedule of cash limitations. This would be detrimental to the results if a bulk of the sample was to be made up of such respondents. This necessitated a need to restructure the questionnaire to ensure that a considerable percentage of respondents went for holiday to places which necessitate much choice were selected i.e. places where equivalent substitutes were chosen. For instance, the first question was to be restructured as follows:

“Why did you choose your current institution for post-graduate studies? “A list of options would then be provided and those not included, classified as ‘others.’ This would additional eliminate the need for a pre-requisite question as the ultimate sample would include all the possible options including those who did not go have any special reasons for joining post-graduate programs of respective institutions.. Additionally, restructuring of this question was motivated by the similarity it bore to the second question. As mentioned earlier, the questionnaire is therefore largely motivated by the need to adequately cover the basic question of this research, which is, “What factors influence the choice of post graduate programs to join in institutions of higher learning. However, to achieve this, other questions must also be answered including the level of importance of other factors, whether or not the factors that influenced the decision some time back, could have the same impact years later, and the general process to making the decisions.

In conclusion, it is important to mention that the questionnaire’s structure was largely influenced by the need to ensure that all the possible angles of the research were well covered. It is therefore wise to restructure any questions that fail direct the research towards this direction.

References

Boud, D. (2001). Using journal writing to enhance reflective practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 90, 9-17.

Daudelin, M. W. (1996). “Learning from experience through reflection”, Organizational Dynamics 24(3): 36-48.

Dewey, J. (1933). How We Think: A Restatement of the Relation of Reflective Thinking to the Educative Process. Boston: D.C. Heath.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and Education. Macmillan, New York.

Goldsmith, S. (1995). Journal Reflection: A Resource Guide for Community Service Leaders and Educators Engaged in Service-learning. Washington, D. C.: The American Alliance for Rights & Responsibilities.

Jasper, M. (2003). Beginning Reflective Practice. Foundations in Nursing and Health Care, Nelson Thornes.

Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience the source of Learning and Development. Prentice-Hall, New Jersey.

Reid, B. (1993). But we’re already doing it! Exploring a response to the concept of reflective practice in order to improve its facilitation. Nurse Education Today, 13, 305-9.

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