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Introduction

  • Define the term reflection and explain the term reflective practice. Explain what the assignment will cover.

    Principles of Reflection 
  • What are the main models of reflection? (identify and explain briefly the three models including Gibbs, Schon, Lawrence-Wilkes and Chapman (Ashmore)
  • Which model(s) did you prefer and why?
  • Which model(s) did you least prefer and why?or
  • Which model(s) did you feel had some limitations?

Reflective model was used to reflect on a situation.

        Learning Styles

  • Explain what the term Learning Styles means
  • Identify and explain briefly the VAK and Honey & Mumford learning styles assessments
  • Which assessment did you prefer and why?
  • Did you feel either assessment had any limitations?
  • Did you agree/disagree with the results from the VAK and Honey & Mumford assessments?

      Group development

  • Define and explain the term group development
  • Identify and briefly explain the Belbin assessment/method
  • Did you feel the Belbin assessment had any limitations?
  • Did you agree/disagree with the results of the Belbin assessment?

Reflective Learning

Introduction

Reflective learning as I can point out is the method from learning from upon reflecting on one’s experiences.  This type of learning is also called experiential learning where people use the knowledge and skill they have gained throughout the course of their learning courses or professions.  The concept was conceived by John Dewey and was developed by theorists like David Kolb, David Boud and Donald Schon (Eppich & Cheng, 2015). Reflective learning and the knowledge gained from it find applications in a variety of situations. The managerial experiences which managers gain according to me help them to emerge into better leaders capable of taking more appropriate decisions while leading their teams (Easterby-Smith & Cunliffe, 2017).

Reflection includes description, analysis and evaluation of one’s thoughts, beliefs, assumptions or actions. Kelly et al. (2016) defined it as an active and careful consideration of beliefs or knowledge that provides support to some grounds to lead to conclusion. As per Wagner, Gommers & Pindues (2016), it involves intellectual activities that explore experiences to gain a new understanding of the context or subject. Reflection in simple words is a mental process of thinking about experiences and learning from the point of view of self and others. When the assumptions and learning are examined with the use of questions to solve certain problems, it is called critical reflection.

The principles of reflection deals with the different types of reflective learning methods and their applications. The next section would deal with three models of reflection namely, 

Gibbs model

The reflective learning model by Graham Gibbs makes use of debriefing to enable further reflection in experiential learning coined by Kolb. The Gibbs model stands on six pillars namely, initial experience, description, feelings, evaluation, analysis, general conclusion, specific conclusion and personal action plans.

Initial experience

People gain knowledge from their initial experiences during their learning and profession which have profound impact on their subsequent reflection and decision-making. The managers use their experiences they have earned while carrying out their professional responsibilities to make decisions (Loads & Campbell, 2015).

Description

The second step consist of making description of incidences and not making any judgments from them. The junior managers who experience events like conflicts for the first time in their professional life, report the same to the senior managers. The senior managers who are experienced at dealing with similar situations make decisions. Thus, here decision making is based on previous experiences of facing similar situation (Kolb, 2014).

Models of Reflection

Feelings

The third stage is feelings where people think about their feelings of the past experiences.

Evlaution

In the next stage of evaluation, discussion is done on how things went in the experience. For evaluation, certain questions can be answered such as -

  • What was your reaction to the situation?
  • What was the reaction of others to the situation?
  • What was good about the experience?
  • What was bad about the experience?
  • Was any problem resolved and how?

In this part of reflection, theories and work of other authors can also be included.        

Analysis

The next step is analysis which involves consideration of what would have supported the event or hindered it. The experience of the event can be compared with the past literature in this stage. In this stage, theories and experiences are brought together. After analysis comes the stage of conclusion in which the outcomes and lessons from the experience are summarized. Based on this summary, an action plan is prepared summing up ideas for improvement (McGregor & Cartwright, 2011).

General Conclusion

The managers at this stage draw general conclusion from the incidences and their prospective impacts. For example, if managers make general analysis of the events without going deep into them (Kaner, 2014).

Specific Conclusions

The managers at this stage reflect on the experiences and their prospective outcomes. For example, if they face leadership challenges or situations like high turnover in their team, they analyze the prospective impact of the turnover on the team performances. They also reflect upon the effect of the turnover on their own career since their performances can actually dependent on the performances of their teams (McClory, Read & Labib, 2017).

Personal action plans

The final step of the Gibbs reflection process consists of managers taking actions based on the critical conclusion. For example, the managers facing high team member turnover, may choose to approach senior managers to allot them some members from other teams (Wernz, Gehrke & Ball, 2015).

Schon Model

The reflective learning theory proposed by Chris Argyris and Donald Schon stands on two models namely, single loop and double loop. They model is realistic because it considers the scope of perception and errors which people can commit while perceiving things (Robinson 2014). When practitioners continue relying on their existing strategies in spite of errors and under-achievement due to the strategies, it is called single-loop strategy. When decision makers change the strategies to avoid committing the error, it is called double looping. For example, managers may recognize errors in their decisions and may take two strategies. The first strategy may be retaining their initial plan. The second strategy may consist of adopting new strategies to attain the goal or performance aimed performances parameters. The first strategy would be an application of single looping strategy concept while the second exemplifies double looping concept (Cunliffe, 2016).

Gibbs Model

Lawrence –Wilkes and Chapman

As per the Lawrence-Wilkes and Chapman (Ashmore) model of reflection, reflection explores new ideas and knowledge to gain insights on emerging patterns. This reflective approach accepts different perspectives to get the holistic picture. The model suggests looking back at what happened to review and understand what happened and why was it important. The focus of this reflection is on who was involved, what happened, where it happens, and who played what roles. Evaluation of the event is done considering causes, outcomes, feelings, strengths and weaknesses.  Different access options, scenarios, and development needs can be explored in the reflection. New ideas can be experimented with and integrated in the action plan.

Preferred model

I prefer to use the Gibbs model as it gives clear view of what has to be done in each step. The least preferred model is Asmore model as less of information was available on the model and there was a lack of clarity on how it can be used for reflection.

Learning styles refer to a set of theories and assumptions about the different ways people learn. It’s the way an individual approaches learning, experience and utilizes information for grasping concepts.  A variety of models are available that explain different learning styles such as VARK model that was proposed by Neil. 

VARK

As per this model, there are 4 predominant learning styles that include Visual, Auditory, Verbal and kinaesthetic. Visual learners learn best through pictures and spatial understanding. Aural learners prefer the music and sound plays for learning. Verbal learners can learn best from speeches, books, and writing. Kinaesthetic learners prefer to use their bodily movements and senses of touch.

There is another model called Felder-Silverman Learning Style Model that identifies more styles in addition to those defined in the VARK model. As per this model, there can be ten types of learners including sensing learners, visual, inductive, active, sequential, intuitive, verbal, deductive, reflective, and global learners. There are contrasting leaning styles as defined in the model.  Sensing learners tend towards facts, practices and procedures while intuitive learners learn through the exploration of theories and concepts. Inductive learners like presentations that begin with specifics and then talk about general applications while deductive learners learn from presentations that start from general and then go specific. Active learners learn by trying things in teams while reflective learners like to learn alone. Sequential learners learn linearly in small incremental steps while global learners are system thinkers who learn in large leaps.

Argyris and Schon Model

Kolb and Mc Cathy Learning Cycle model identify learning styles along two dimensions including perception and processing that together contribute to the cognitive development of a student. Perception can be abstract or concrete and it correlates with the decision making capability through feeling or thinking as defined in the Myres-Briggs Model. In a similar way, processing which can be active or reflective connect with the orientation which can be introvert or extrovert. Based on these assumptions, the model identifies four types of learners that include convergers who wants to know how things work, assimilators who are interested in the what part of things, diverges who explore the why, and accommodators who think of what if. The four styles make use of the combinations of perception and processing methods as shown in the figure.

Another popular model of learning styles is honey and Mumford Model which identifies four dominating learning styles including activist, pragmatist, reflector, and theorist. Concrete learners learn through experiences. Reflective learners reflect upon the experience or activities. Active learners test their skills to grasp concepts while abstract learners gain knowledge from their experiences through conceptualization.

Group’s development as I can reflect is a process through which people form group and work together to achieve a common goal. Tuckman defines group development as a sequence of decision making through which a team goes and in the process they pass through four stages that include forming, storming, norming and performing. A fifth stage of adjourning was added in the model later. In forming, leader provides structure and identifies major tasks. Storming involves identification of responsibilities and creation of a leadership structure. In the norming stage, people share ideas and build relationships. In the performing stage, interdependence is achieved and team members make adjustments to achieve task.

The group assessment method identifies teams into three divisions each having three groups. We learnt that the first role, the action oriented roles are divided into three categories, shapers, implementers and complete finishers. We were taught by the professor that shaper’s group is composed of people who stimulate the other team members to take up challenges. They question the established norms, thus encouraging the team members to consider alternative actions methods (Mathieu et al., 2015). The experienced managers who challenge the decisions of the junior managers can belong to this category. The implementer are the people in the teams who implement the plans taken. They are usually the senior manager again to who the junior managers and the other staff members. I can also recall that the next group, the complete finisher are the people who supervise projects and complete them thoroughly. As far as the practical workplaces are concerned, this position is usually occupied by the senior managers who oversee the performances of the junior managers. The next role, people oriented role again has three divisions namely, the coordinator, the team worker and resource investigator. The coordinators are the employee who coordinate between the different employees and even among other departments. They also act as communication points within the organizations. They communicate the orders of the higher authority to the subordinates and the feedback of the subordinates to the higher authorities. This position is usually held by the departmental heads who coordinate between the different departments to execute the instructions given by the apex management. The team workers we learnt are the people who provide support to the departmental heads by executing the various plans. They are mostly the experienced team members who even help the departmental heads to coordinate between the new and the senior managers in a team. The resource investigator are the new and innovative team members. They usually come from different organizations and have innovative ideas. They advise the senior team members thus, making the team work more dynamic. The third role group as I can reflect consist of three sub categories which are, plants, monitor evaluator and specialists. The plants like the resource innovators are the new team members but find it difficult to accept challenges. They may become poor communicators owing to competition from senior employees. The monitors and evaluators are senior employees having analytical skills. They are extremely strategic in their approach towards their responsibilities. The specialists are the experienced employees who are specialized in different areas like marketing and financial management. The team leaders also delegate them power and responsibilities (Mihalache et al., 2014).

Lawrence-Wilkes and Chapman Model

I found the model quite effective as the roles identified in the model were actually assumed by people even when not recognized actively but when the roles are clearly defined then the individuals would get acceptance of their roles predominantly and thus, conflicts would reduce and teams would perform better. However, this model also had some limitations. As it identified specific roles of people, it did not specify if there are possibilities of two people trying to assume the same role in which case conflicts can arise. The model does define possibilities of conflicts in the cases of different roles but taking decision on what person should be given which role would still be difficult. The model is more suitable for smaller teams where specific roles can be defined but for larger teams with more than 10 people, the model may be difficult to apply. Even in smaller teams where people are less than 9, one individual may be made to assume more than one role. In such a situation, one role of a person may be conflicting while other could be accommodating with others which can create confusions.

The second week started with conflict management and ended with leadership. I think conflict management is one of the most important skills a manager is required to have in the modern dynamic workplaces. The employees in today’s organizations are continuous pressure to perform. This pressure as per my reflection often leads to conflict among the employees who are competing for similar higher posts. The managers have to resolve this conflict to ensure that their subordinates continue their productivity.    

I can further reflect that there are five modes of conflict which managers have to handle. These include competing which is a combination of assertiveness and lack of cooperation, accommodating who is unassertive and cooperative, avoiding which is unassertive and uncooperative, collaborating who is both assertive and cooperative and compromising who is moderate on both accounts. In each situation, the way person would respond to or handle conflicts would differ. For instance, collaborating mode would result into discussions between two people involving exploration of disagreement and identification of a creative solution to satisfy both (Rahim, 2017).

I can point out the different types of conflict management techniques namely, accommodating, competing, avoiding and collaborating. Based on the test, each role and the score can be interpreted based on which a conflict management profile can be created (Appendix). We learnt that a person was found to be 87% which was high on accommodating mode which suggested that the person allows others to give better solutions when he or she is wrong and when the issue is more important to others. Such a person would want to build the social credits and preserve harmony (Saeed et al., 2014). The person was found to be 79% which was high on competing suggesting that he was quick in decision making and was disciplined. Compromising: the person was found to be 58% which is medium on compromising suggesting that he was capable of achieving temporary settlements in the cases of complicated issues. A percentile score of 22% which was low was achieved  in this mode suggesting that the person uses avoiding as strategy to manage conflicts only in certain cases like unimportant issues, no probability of satisfying concerns, need for people to cool down, and so on. The person was found to be very low that is 7% in this mode suggesting that personal concerns are too important while trying to find integrative solutions to a conflicting problem of the person and collaborate to solve the conflict (Asrar-ul-Haq, & Kuchinke, 2016).

Learning Styles

Leadership we learnt refers to style of leading teams of subordinates towards achievement of goals. Kurt Lewin points out three styles of leadership namely, autocratic, free style and democratic styles of leadership. The democratic style is one of the most preferred forms of leadership styles while autocratic is the least preferred. Managers today change their leadership styles as per the requirements of their teams of subordinates. An autocratic leader holds the responsibility as well as the authority taking decisions on his or her own without taking the consent or views of subordinates (DuBois et al., 2015). An autocratic environment in work provides least flexibility. Autocratic leadership limits the independence of subordinates from improving their decision making capabilities. I can also point out that in the present managers prefer democratic style of leadership to autocratic. However, it can be pointed out that in teams where most of the members lack experience and skills, this is the most appropriate style of leadership the team leaders can apply. The team leaders can eventually introduce democratic leadership or participative leadership style as the subordinates become skillful (Buble, Juras & Mati?, 2014).

Democratic leadership is one of the most preferred leadership styles in the present world. I can point out that the global managers today prefer democratic style to empower and train their subordinates into great decision makers. This style of leadership is practiced more in teams where new employees with experiences are stolen from competitors (Kang, Solomon & Choi, 2015). I can reflect that senior managers encourage their subordinates to use strategies and innovation used by their competitors, their erstwhile employers. This leadership strategy as I can point out is aligned with the modern competitive environment where strategies of one company effects its competitors as well.

In Laissez-Faire leadership, employees are given authority a freedom to work as per their choice with minimal interference. This type of leadership is not found to be effective or satisfying. The model talks of the basic leadership style that is focused on the leader and thus, properties or characteristics of such leaders as identified in the model is very easy to make out (Goleman, 2017).

Conclusion

This reflective paper was written for exploring myself through various assessment tests that helped time identify my different styles of working and my personality. It helped me understand how I as a leader, team worker, and a learner am. I found that I am a verbal leader which suggests that I learn better by listening to people and by reading books. The exercise was very useful and helped me understand that there can be so many different dimensions and characteristics in people that matter while working and self-exploration can help an individual understand situations where he can perform best and thus, contribute maximum for development. Using the discoveries made in these assessments, I can now come up with a plan for self-development which is presented in the next part.

VARK Model

References

Asrar-ul-Haq, M., & Kuchinke, K. P. (2016). Impact of leadership styles on employees’ attitude towards their leader and performance: Empirical evidence from Pakistani banks. Future Business Journal, 2(1), 54-64.

Buble, M., Juras, A., & Mati?, I. (2014). The relationship between managers’ leadership styles and motivation. Management: journal of contemporary management issues, 19(1), 161-193.

Cunliffe, A. L. (2016). Republication of “On Becoming a Critically Reflexive Practitioner”. Journal of management education, 40(6), 747-768.

DuBois, M., Hanlon, J., Koch, J., Nyatuga, B., & Kerr, N. (2015). Leadership styles of effective project managers: Techniques and traits to lead high performance teams. Journal of Economic Development, Management, IT, Finance, and Marketing, 7(1), 30.

Easterby-Smith, M., & Cunliffe, A. L. (2017). From reflection to practical reflexivity: Experiential learning as lived experience. In Organizing reflection (pp. 44-60). Routledge.

Eppich, W., & Cheng, A. (2015). Promoting Excellence and Reflective Learning in Simulation (PEARLS): development and rationale for a blended approach to health care simulation debriefing. Simulation in Healthcare, 10(2), 106-115.

Goleman, D. (2017). Leadership That Gets Results (Harvard Business Review Classics). Harvard Business Press.

Kaner, S. (2014). Facilitator's guide to participatory decision-making. John Wiley & Sons.

Kang, J. H., Solomon, G. T., & Choi, D. Y. (2015). CEOs' leadership styles and managers' innovative behaviour: Investigation of intervening effects in an entrepreneurial context. Journal of Management Studies, 52(4), 531-554.

Kelly, M. A., Hopwood, N., Rooney, D., & Boud, D. (2016). Enhancing students' learning through simulation: Dealing with diverse, large cohorts. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 12(5), 171-176.

Kolb, D. A. (2014). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development. FT press.

Loads, D., & Campbell, F. (2015). Fresh thinking about academic development: authentic, transformative, disruptive?. International Journal for Academic Development, 20(4), 355-369.

Mathieu, J. E., Tannenbaum, S. I., Kukenberger, M. R., Donsbach, J. S., & Alliger, G. M. (2015). Team role experience and orientation: A measure and tests of construct validity. Group & Organization Management, 40(1), 6-34.

McClory, S., Read, M., & Labib, A. (2017). Conceptualising the lessons-learned process in project management: Towards a triple-loop learning framework. International Journal of Project Management, 35(7), 1322-1335.

Mihalache, O. R., Jansen, J. J., Van den Bosch, F. A., & Volberda, H. W. (2014). Top management team shared leadership and organizational ambidexterity: A moderated mediation framework. Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 8(2), 128-148.

Rahim, M. A. (2017). Managing conflict in organizations. Routledge.           

Robinson, V. M. (2014). Single and double loop learning. Encyclopedia of educational theory and philosophy, 754-756. Wagner, D., Gommers, L., & Pindues, L. (2016). The need, potential and challenges of fostering reflection in higher education learning environments.

Saeed, T., Almas, S., Anis-ul-Haq, M., & Niazi, G. S. K. (2014). Leadership styles: relationship with conflict management styles. International Journal of Conflict Management, 25(3), 214-225.

Wernz, C., Gehrke, I., & Ball, D. R. (2015). Managerial decision-making in hospitals with real options analysis. Information Systems and e-Business Management, 13(4), 673-691.

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