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Reflective Thoughts as a Learning Process

By bakiode May 04, 2013 1930 Words
Reflective thought as a learning process was first given importance and described by Dewey (1933) in How We Think as an “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”. Joseph Raelin, Reflections, Fall 2002, Volume 4, Issue 1, pages 66-79, “”I don’t have time to think!” Versus the art of reflective practice” defined Reflective Practice as ‘the practice of periodically stepping back to ponder the meaning of what has recently transpired to us and to others in our immediate environment.’ In this paper, the author would identify the main lines of argument in Raelin’s article, and points out the divergent views between Raelin and commentators on his article. He would also justify his own views on the article, and provide a reflective journal giving an insight into what he gained from reading part C of the Induction Module. Main lines of argument and differences in points of view between Raelin and other commentators. Raelin wondered whether reflective practice in this age of ‘corporate executive’ is practicable. He was of the opinion that “delaying decision is often seen as a sign of weakness in corporate world, as most chief executive wants answers, rather than questions”. He also makes a point that “reflection that is learning, is essential to generate new ways of coping with change”. Raelin also maintained that reflection allow an organisation to benefit from collective learning. By so doing, decisions are more likely to be sound, which then enhance corporate performance. He advocates a model for reflective practice that comprises five core skills: being, disclosing, speaking, testing, and probing. Phillip DiChiara looked back to the 1990’s when new ventures, especially in technological industry, made provisions for recreational facilities to encourage staff to interact and perhaps have more opportunity to reflect. He maintained that this practice, giving available evidence, was “often less a reality than an optimistic promise”. He believed the concept of reflective practice is still “essentially unknown”, and he supports Raelin’s call for Reflective Practice to be brought out into the open, and for strategies to encourage it’s usage to be explored. He cited the case within his organisation whereby a clear sense of vision and shared interest had created an environment whereby reflective practice is now being nurtured. Philip W. McArthur was of the view that reflection is necessary in organisations, but its uses are resisted because “people think they don’t have time”. As with Raelin, he agreed that reflection occurs in three distinct moments: “(1) before we act, (2) after we act, and (3) in the heat of the moment”, and believed people were referring to “the before-and after-action” types of reflection when they say they do not have time to reflect. He also looked into Donald Schon (1983), Reflective Practitioner, and what Schon called “reflection-in-action” to describe the process of making tacit knowledge explicit, reflecting on assumptions, so that one can entertain fundamentally new options. Edgar Schein, in his commentary indicated that there is always time to reflect and refers to choice “...there are all kinds of time for personal reflection if we choose to use it”. He described some very practical ways to find time – between meetings, walking from one building to the next, making use of travelling time, among others. He was of the opinion that these are the best times to reflect and for reflective conversations on what that had just happened at the meeting, or other events. McArthur agreed with Raelin on the framing skills he identified in ‘being’ as the basis for effective application of other four skills. However, he was unconvinced that “these skills apply distinctly to either the collective or the individual level”. Raelin was of the view that McArthur was “largely concerned with the individual and team levels of discourse.” which was against was he was advocating for in his model. DiChiara seemed to be more concerned with reflective practice at the organisational and inter-organisational levels of experience. However, Raelin was of the opinion that reflective practice should help individuals look beyond the question of “what business are we in” to “what we stand for”. The importance of reflection to individual and organisational performance. This author believes that a continuous reflection process is critical for successful problem solving and knowledge creation for individuals as members of an organisation, which in turn contributes to an enhanced organisational performance. Reviewing, reflecting and learning should be constant processes that are incorporated into every aspect of an organisation’s advocacy or business processes.

An iterative reflection process allows patterns created by some individuals to attract other individuals, resulting in emergent forms that are based on a common interest towards achieving clearly defined corporate goals. Individual and collective abilities and experiences in critical thinking will make a difference as to how much is achieved by a team.

While the author was training as an auditor in the late 1980’s, the company had a process whereby after each audit assignments, members of two or three audit teams would meet and reflect of their last assignment. We would review our processes, reflect, and learn from corrective actions that our audit seniors and managers had made to some of our working papers. In that way we were able to re-plan against our next audit assignment, so that we would be able to do the same processes in a better way. This tends to make us as individuals, a better auditor, thus enhancing our company’s reputation.

Reflective journal summarising and explaining the insight gained from studying the sections Learning about Learning, and Strategies to Improve your Performance in part C of the Induction Module, and how the author will use this understanding in the way he approach his MBA studies. 25 February 2009

Online research on ‘The Learning Cycle’ today gave the author further insight into the four different stages of learning, which can be entered at any point but all stages must be followed in sequence for successful learning to take place. The Learning Cycle suggests that it is not sufficient to have an experience in order to learn. It is necessary to reflect on the experience to make generalisations and formulate concepts, which can then be applied to new situations. This learning must then be tested out in new situations. The learner must make the link between the theory and action by planning, acting out, reflecting and relating it back to the theory. 27 February 2009

For better understand of his own preferred style of learning, the author undertook the online tests at, as developed in Honey and Mumford (1986). Extracts from the test results are attached as appendix 1. As a pragmatist, the author is particularly at home with distance learning programme especially as he can see the direct relevance of the MBA programme to his career development as a private business consultant in the near future. 02March2009

The author learnt today that an individual is best equipped to learn from a wide variety of different experiences if they have equal preferences for all four learning styles. This is because the stages in the learning cycle are equal contributors to the total process of learning from experience. The author’s weakest style is Activist. With this knowledge, he has recognised his strengths and weaknesses, and that would now help him develop a personal strategy to improving his performance. Using above understanding in the way the author plan to approach his MBA studies Activists tend to be flexible, open minded and happy to try out new things. They enjoy getting involved and participating with others. The implications of having an underdeveloped Activist style, as the author does, would be to be wary of having a go at something one haven't tried before. Also, one tend to be reluctant to go outside one’s comfort zone and experiment with new or unfamiliar ways of doing things, as the author knows too well. Therefore, the author would develop his Activist style, in relation to his MBA studies, by being happier to experiment with new and unfamiliar routines and processes, like initiating online discussion and seeking answers to module questions from tutors and colleagues. In addition, he intends to get better at being able to brainstorm spontaneously at online and weekend seminars, and off-the-top-of-the-head informal discussions with colleagues. The author also intends to be less dependent on exhaustive data collection prior to making decisions on the best way forward. This is one major problem as the idea of exhaustive data to back up decision making sometimes slow processes, which the author often experience at work and in academic pursuits. Conclusion

The primary aim of this paper has been to analyse Raelin’s article on ‘reflective practice’ and to review his comments and those of the commentators, and to justify importance of reflection and learning to individual and organisational performance. Learning occurs when we take in information, think about it, make sense of it, and fit it in with what we already know. This may mean changing what we already know, or by rejecting the new information confirming our knowing about the older knowledge. Learning also requires that we can see how to apply new information and where to apply it. Reflective writing enables the documentation of experiences, thoughts, questions, ideas and conclusions that signpost our learning journey. Used effectively, reflective writing will support individuals to make a personal sense; of a diverse set of experiences, this is particularly important when learning is to be incorporated into every day practice. A reflective journal assists the reflective process.

Dewey, J. (1933). How We Think, New York: D. C. Heath. Page 118 Raelin, J. (2002). Reflections, Volume 4, Issue 1, pages 66-79 Schon, D. (1983). The Reflective Practitioner. Basic Books: New York Brookfield, S. D. (1983) Adult Learning, Adult Education and the Community Milton Keynes Open University Press. Honey P. & Mumford A. (1986): Using your learning styles. Maidenhead, Berkshire

Appendix 1
Olusola Akiode
Your Scores and Suggestions for Action - The aim of the Learning Styles Questionnaire is to equip you with the skills to be an all-round learner from experience in all four phases of the learning cycle. Below you will find your scores and your suggestions for action with: * Suggestions on how to choose activities to suit your strongest style(s) * Suggestions on how to improve your under-developed style(s). Your Scores

Your strongest style is Pragmatist. (Pragmatists tend to be practical, down to earth and realistic. They like 'how to' hints and techniques.) Below you will find your scores. The Raw Score is the actual number of points you have scored for each style. The Percentile is your score relative to the other people who have completed this Questionnaire. For example, if you have a Raw Score of 10 and a percentile of 65%, this shows that 65% of users have a Raw Score of equal or less 10.

The graph illustrates your percentile and the strength of your preference for each style.  |  | 0| %1| 0%3| 0%7| 0%9| 0%|
Style| Raw Score| Percentile| V. L.| Low| Moderate| Strong| V. S.| Activist| 10| 60%| |
Reflector| 18| 92%| |
Theorist| 16| 90%| |
Pragmatist| 17| 96%| |
Your Suggestions for Action
Just as some individuals prefer one learning style, so some learning activities are strongly geared to one style of learning. Where individual preferences and activities match, learning is more likely.

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