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The Impact of Information Literacy on Professional Development

Question:

How Essential Encouraging A Systematic Thinking?

In the process of completing our course, we were encouraged to do our evaluations on the progress of our learning, an assignment that required as having a group discussion. The objective of the group discussion was to give us a clear understanding on the impact information literacy practice has on our professional development. We decided on the use of Johari Window Model of understanding the self as the framework of choice. This paper hence demonstrates the need for a reflective practice and the value it added on our learning process within the group. This report is thus identifying a number of benefits the reflective practice had as well as the implications if the discussion to the individual learning process, an aspects that supports active reflection often lead to positive changes in the attitude of the learners as well as their behavior according to Harrison (2010, p.638). The report hence adopts the use of Gibb’s Cycle model in evaluation.

Personal reflection through individual or group discussion is a common learning process for education professionals as pointed out by Dye (2011 p. 222). It is a vital step when it comes to the need of understanding ourselves in all facets of the learning process. In a systematic review, Dye (2011) denotes that every learner in any professional development course is often encouraged to reflect on the impact and process of individual reflection on their professional development. On the other hand, Potter (2015) also denotes that understanding reflection through either personal or group reflection is essential for three primary reasons. It helps in re-defining our professional knowledge and understanding, essential for developing personal knowledge and self-awareness, as well as in evaluating the appropriateness of our actions in the process of learning.

 In other words, McGinn (2015) having a group discussion to understand our selves is essential in enhancing the quality of our professional actions while increasing our accountability, aspects that were very beneficial for us in developing professional wisdom. In his study, Granby (2016) points out that teachers are often trapped in unexamined interpretations, judgments, expectations, and assumptions when they do not engage in a critical self or group reflection in understanding self and their professional discovery. Potter (2015, p. 238) also denotes that any candidate that applies for a professional accreditation needs to be in a position to evaluate their individual and service performance. The same study denotes that having a group discussion to understand self is a recommended practice for effective professional development as an evaluative and meaningful way of professional gain.

I had been in a nursing practice session in a middle grade clinic in Western Sydney and as a routine; we are often required to give a report on our experience during the practice. Every student is always expected to present a written report on their experience while maturity to effectively handle patients and ensure effective healthcare would be assessed through a group discussion and presentation before the fellow course mates as well as few chosen nursing tutors from the relevant professional department. In the group, everyone is expected to present a topic, an aspect that aimed not only to test the maturity if handing students but testing self-understanding of we the learners as well. Lucky enough, my group members were always known to be active in our class sessions and all colleagues expected we would have the best presentation.

Benefits of Reflective Practice

According to Harrison (2010), Gibbs’ reflective cycle is a popular model often adopted in the professional learning process for both individual and group reflection purposes. The model is essential in encouraging a systematic thinking on the phrases of an activity or experience (Patel 2016, p. 89). The model adopts the use of questions and helps an individual think though all the phases of the activity as each question forms the step that determines the next idea as pointed out by Harrison (2010, p.638). The main aim of adopting Gibbs’ reflective cycle in understanding self is to help an individual to challenge their assumptions and explore different ideas or new approaches towards thinking or doing things. By identifying weaknesses and strengths and taking actions to address the challenges, Dye (2011) denotes that Gibbs’ reflective cycle helps in promoting self-improvement.  The same study asserts that the model is essential in linking theory and practice as it combines observing or doing while thinking or applying knowledge. The model involves six main stages as shown in figure 1 with each stage having individual reflective questions for examination of an activity in the reflection process. These include the description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, conclusion, and the action plan.

                                                                 Figure 1: Gibbs’ reflective cycle (Adopted from Dye 2010, p. 218)

Description: The description section requires a learner to explain what the process of reflection is all about. Dye (2017) denotes that the description involves the background information that is relevant to the reflection. It hence describes who was involved in the activity and their contribution in the process.  After the instructions from our tutor to have group discussions to evaluate one the topic we would present effectively for the assessment, every group member was given a responsibility to do research in preparation of the occasion as the evaluation was allocated 20% of the total grade in practical assessment course. Timid, small in size and fearful as I was, many of my fellow learners often had the mentality that i was too fearful to talk bravely in front of them, as aspect that was even reflected by my group members during the group discussion.

As we began our group discussion, I realized there was biasness when it comes to contribution of the discussion. Everyone would be given a chance to share on the concepts and report their research results on areas that we felt were of importance for the discussion in the understanding of self. Realizing the mood of discussion was not favorable and fair for me, I decided to ask our group leader why he would pass me every time it was my turn to participate. I became so nervous that when I was finally given the chance, I could not speak well and clearly put out my ideas. To my group members, it was a confirmation to them that I was not dimmed fit to be among the group. They only had this idea that at least it was a group work so they would do most of the work as well as the presentation in the fear that I would let them down due to poor presentation, an aspect that they only judged out of my calm nature without knowing my potential.  

Systematic Thinking with Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle

Feelings: Here, the reflection examines the feelings and thoughts concerning the experience (Rossiter et al. 2015, p. 814). In this section I will explore the feelings I had towards that incident at the time, still it entails the thoughts that were going through my mind at the time. Well, quite a number of feelings developed in me. To begin with I feared that my worst doubts had been confirmed. I always knew that my group members did not believe in my ability to make contributions in our discussions and presentations. So with the happening of this, I had for sure confirmed it was true. I had a feeling of embarrassment too because I knew that from then on, the perception of my group members towards me would change for the worst.  In the midst of all these it was still impossible to stop blaming myself. I had a strong feeling of self-attribution. I blamed myself for the fact that I had allowed myself to succumb to the fear that was within me.

According to Schacter et al. (2015), self-attribution is an emotion where one feels like something is their fault and blames themselves for it.  I felt like it was my fault and there was nothing I could do to change it.  That caused me a lot of emotional pain. I thought to myself that it was important for me to try harder at it. According to Cooley et al. (2017), people in a group “have more mind than” a group of people”. This emphasizes the need for every group member to participate actively by contributing their ideas and thoughts as this is vital in the learning process. At this point I felt like I had made the session turn into the latter- a group of people rather than individuals with independent minds working in a group. Still I felt bad that almost not a single member of the group had believed in me. I thought maybe that would have changed things. Maybe it would have given me the courage to speak up.

Evaluation: This section of the cycle seeks to identify two things; what was good about the experience? What was bad about the experience? Well several things emerged from this incident. As an optimist I saw several positives about it. Firstly, an opportunity had just presented itself for me to learn about myself. That was a good thing. It made me become more aware of the fact that I had a serious confidence issue to deal with. Self-efficacy and self-awareness is an important tool for empowerment of individuals. According to Caldwell et al. (2016) when an individual comes to the point where they appreciate self-efficacy and awareness, they are empowered and can also empower those with whom they work (Schacter & Juvonen 2015, p. 841). The feeling of self-attribution may have caused some emotional pain but it helped me to come to a point where I appreciated the bigger picture.

According to Sharma et al. (2016), of self-attribution is painful but essential in mediating and moderating self-therapy. The incident made me question myself about the few times when I had been able to make some contribution in the task group albeit small.  According to Schroeder et al. (2016), individuals tend to credit themselves as having more responsibility than other group members when working together in performing group tasks. This is one feature of group dynamics that is often observed in several task groups as observed by Schroeder, Caruso, and Epley (2016, p. 89). It made me realize that all the while in our group assignments I had been crediting myself for much more than I really was able to do. That was a positive thing to discover about myself. This incident also brought to the fore another vital aspect. I learnt that most trainee teachers felt inadequate in their first class presentations or lessons. So it helped me appreciate the fact that it was okay to be nervous. Greene et al. 2006, points out, saying that nine in every ten trainee teachers find their first teaching experience inadequate and unsatisfying. That was a positive thing that gave me a positive feeling. After talking to a colleague about my experience, I learned that most teachers find themselves tongue tied during their first lessons.

Description: Explaining Reflection Process

There were also a number of things that were negative about the incident. None of my colleagues had believed in me. That was daunting for me. According to Sharma et al. (2016), what most students need is someone who offers to meet them at their point of need to help them improve their engagement in class work and maximize learning effects. I knew that given an opportunity, I could do better and demonstrate to my colleagues that I was just as talented as them if not better.

Analysis: In this section, the paper seeks to explore this question; what sense can be made from the incident? Here I will also seek to relate the incident to theory. One thing that came out strongly in this incident is the fact that individuals are all different according to Sharma-Patel and Brown (2016). This means that even within the group membership, individuals retain their various personalities and character and it would be irrational to expect everyone to act in a similar way in the face of every circumstance. I would want to understand my group members reaction towards my perceived failure in this light. This is an understanding that should also guide the group members in their deliberations as opposed to causing a hindrance to the task completion as was the case in our group.


People including researchers tend to visualize groups as having minds. Far from it Jenkins et al. (2014) posits that one only needs to employ mind-appealing perceivers to be able to study the mind of one individual minus the group members. This would be helpful in improving the level of interaction among group members. What would I have done in order to prevent the incidence from happening in the first place? How did I end up in this situation I think one of the reasons could be the group itself. What if I was not in the right group to begin with? Aggarwal et al. (2008) posits that by merely allocating students to various groups and assigning them tasks and instructing them to have interactive engagements with their colleagues, it is not guaranteed that they will their full potential will be realized. It does not promise to yield optimal learning outcomes. From this maybe we as a group needed to reconsider the group composition to from the onset.  This is also a serious issue to be considered by the academic instructors so they consider as they allocate students to task groups.           

Action Plan: According to Venkatesh (2013), the action plan section is the segment of the reflection cycle where one is supposed to answer the following questions; what can be done in order to prevent occurrence of a similar incident in the future? Which areas can be improved? What are the priority areas that need to be developed? Well for me this takes two approaches; what I can do as an individual to enhance my participatory skills and what we can do as a task group to become better group members. I think in future taking a great deal of time to study relevant information on the topic area will go a long way in boosting my confidence. Information is power, they say.

Feelings: Reflecting on Bias and Group Discussion

According to Cornelius-White (2007) learning depends on prior knowledge. Knowledge builds upon knowledge. As such I am undertaking to conduct a thorough study of the subject content prior to discussion time so that as I contribute, I would be emboldened by the fact that I am well informed. I realized that this bit was lacking in me before. McGinn et al. (2015) also posits and emphasizes on the importance of having students carry out a thorough reading of the topic before classes. According McDougall et al. (2006) for maximum learning outcome to be realized most college professor prefer to give prior reading assignments to help build the learners capacity to follow through and understand during class time.

Moving forward, group members should have a governing policy like this one. This would ensure that as we meet for our group discussions we would all be ready to share our ideas. This would be the way to go for me to become a better group participant. On the part of all of us as group members, it is important that we appreciate that collaborative learning is one of the most effective ways for learners to achieve the optimal learning outcomes especially in task groups. According to Xiaoqing et al. (2017), collaborative learning provides a platform for learners to help each other identify and work towards overcoming their weaknesses while maximizing their strengths. The differences in personality and cultural diversity should converge rather than converge on the area of focus-achieving maximum learning outcomes. This should be the driving force for group members even as we proceed with discussions. Therefore, members of the group should realize that active participation and contribution from every group member is paramount. Alden (2011) submits that in order to achieve successful performance of group tasks, the task group should employ the intellectual resources of the members collectively.

Conclusion

From the above analysis, it is evident that reflective practice is a common and is increasingly becoming recognized as a primary professional skill mainly for practitioners who need to analyze and evaluate their service as well as individual performance. The discussion was essential in introducing us to effective professional practice through both reflective writing and the application of Gibb’s reflective model. As a learner, I came to the understanding that critical group reflection is essential when it comes to learning/understanding self. It is an essential process that should not only be adopted as a learning practice in professionalism but a way of life so that one can critically evaluate his strengths and weaknesses, an aspect that is essential for improvement in certain areas of life.

Through the analysis and application of various reflection models, I also understood that both personal and group reflections are essential in evaluating and understanding why some people behave in a certain way, an aspect that is often displayed in their reactions and feelings. The reflection enabled me to evaluate and understand my strengths and weaknesses. I was hence able to justify the need of the discussion as well and have a self-evaluation of what I could do differently to ensure effectiveness in my professional performance.

Evaluation: Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses

References

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