Regardless of the situation, learning is ultimately the individual’s responsibility. Learning will not succeed unless the individual feels a strong sense of ownership and responsibility in the process itself. In all honesty, I have never put much thought into my particular learning style. However, since I decided to embark on a new challenge and opportunity by enrolling in graduate school, I have had to refocus my priorities amidst the everyday stresses of life and my hectic schedule. Before I began graduate school, I reassessed my particular abilities and really began to focus on what I do well and do not do well. Because of this assessment, I am now able to draw more intelligent conclusions about my particular learning style, strengths, opportunities for growth, and ways to improve upon my weaknesses.
During my undergraduate studies at Auburn University, I always studied in the morning. It was at that time of day I felt motivated, sharp, and mentally alert. When I woke up from a good night’s rest, I felt comfortable and refreshed, which enabled me to process more information. Each morning I would determine my priorities for the day and how I would effectively reduce and handle interruptions, in order to enhance my learning capacity and optimize my performance.
Finally, I tended to get more accomplished in the morning because there was a sense of peace and quiet. When I began employment and worked from 8am to 5pm, I always took any opportunity to learn new things in the morning. Now that I have begun graduate school I still try to focus most of my efforts, whether it is reading, writing, communicating, etc in the early morning hours before I begin my 8am to 5pm job. Of course, there are time constraints to consider which force me to perform some activities in the evening hours, but I still believe I process and retain more information in the morning.
Based on my undergraduate experience I basically was a hands-on learner. I tended to learn more effectively by taking notes in class and rewriting them later. This is often referred to as “tactile” or “kinesthetic” learning (Kowalski 25: 20). Even in graduate school, I highlight passages in my readings and write them down on paper. I read over the notes repetitiously in order to grasp the information. In addition to being a tactile learner, I am a bottom-up learner. I am a very detail-oriented individual who prefers to have a rock solid foundation built before I proceed to new challenges. I want to learn the basics before seeing the big picture. For example, when I learned to process health insurance claims at my place of business I had a desire to know the concrete specifics of the system and how everything flowed and fit together before I actually wanted to process a claim. I had an inherent desire to fully master all concepts of the system before moving on to claims processing.
Kathiann M. Kowalski defines learning style as “the way each person absorbs, understands, and uses new information.” She goes on to say that “learning style may be inherited…and some aspects develop over your lifetime” (25: 20). I have always learned in a manner which I believe I inherited. I am a very detail oriented individual who likes everything planned and structured. I learn best when I have an outline in front of me with everything detailed in a logical and flowing order. Also, policies and procedures play an important role in my everyday life. For example, at my company, we have developed concise policies and procedures on how to process a claim. These procedures assist me and my fellow associates as we learn the various aspects of the system and claims processing. I could not imagine learning the system without detailed procedures. I recall always learning in this fashion.
I possess pieces of each of the seven multiple intelligences. However, introspective intelligence has manifested itself more so than the others. Dr. Thomas Armstrong defines this as “the ability to understand thoughts and feelings in yourself” (Cathcart 51: 20). I have an introverted personality and have a tendency to be quite shy in group settings. Many times I do not publicly participate, but work diligently behind the scenes. I am a self-motivated individual who always contributes to the overall group effort despite my shyness. I have an innate desire for advancement and achievement, firmly believe that “knowledge is power”, and the more you know and learn the better off you will be for it.
I possess many strengths and weaknesses with regard to my particular learning style. I tend to focus on my strengths while managing my weaknesses. The key to my success is that I have identified my strengths and pursued them with vigor. I believe that I am an achiever and have the willpower, perseverance, and desire to do well. I concentrate my efforts by assessing what I do well, and I do a lot of it. Practice makes perfect. Another strength I possess is listening to myself and acting on a hunch. I believe in receiving advice and input from others; however, no one knows my learning style better than I do, so I always try to listen to myself. I am also a very motivated individual who learns very quickly. I have learned to capitalize on my rapid learning skills by realizing that when I am good at something I should mold it into my everyday learning activities. My organizational skills and special attention to detail assists me in studying and learning more effectively. Finally, I always strive for excellence. My grandfather always told me “if you can’t do something right just don’t do it at all.” A sign of a good learner is someone who desires excellence and does what is necessary to achieve optimal results.
There are also many areas in my learning style that I can improve upon. Sometimes, if I do not feel that I am grasping something, I get frustrated, and tend to skip over that particular area. It may be that I try to capitalize and focus too much on what I do well that I give up on issues that do not come to me as easily. I also feel that my close attention to detail can lead to an obsessive type of learning style that can “muddy” the water at times. I begin to get minimal results despite my intense focus. There is also the issue of overconfidence. At times, I often think I have mastered a skill, and I get a little sloppy and lose focus. When learning new things, I consciously think through the steps of the process. However, I continuously, almost obsessively, think about the steps instead of mastering the skill quickly. I dwell on the smaller things instead of focusing on the bigger picture. Sometimes, learning drains all of my energy, thus making it more difficult for me to actively engage in additional learning right away. Finally, I feel that I need to become a little more of a mixture between an introvert and an extrovert. By being shy, I do not get to know other individual’s personalities, styles, habits, etc. Interacting on a more personal level with individuals will help my learning style, especially in group settings.
Formulating a strategy for improvement can be difficult, but must be done in order to achieve optimal learning results. Firstly, I will do most of my learning at my peak time, which is in the morning. Secondly, I will review the other learning styles more closely, and identify the aspects I can incorporate into my own personal style. Thirdly, I will avoid putting myself into situations where I am forced to do something I do not do well, which tends to stress and frustrate me. Fourthly, I will partner with someone that compliments my strengths. This way, we can combine our joint strengths and create a unique learning capability that could not be done with one person alone. Fifthly, I will make a conscious effort to interact more with my group members to ease my shyness. Finally, I am going to take a step back from all of the little nitpicky details that can consume me at times, take a deep breath, and look at the big picture. Also, I can possibly begin to think in pictures and draw my ideas for others, instead of talking about them.
In conclusion, I have discovered my particular learning style. I believe this is important in order to improve on areas that may inhibit my opportunities for growth. I will take it upon myself to learn the styles of other individuals as well. This will help me more effectively interact, while also increasing my learning potential because I can learn from other individuals. Knowledge truly is power, and the more I acquire, and the more I can learn from myself and other individuals, the better off I will be.
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When I am writing an essay, I am talking to the reader; I want to reach the reader. I used to ask myself, why would I have to use what someone else is saying to show that my point is right? What I am saying should be enough. This was my attitude about writing ever since I have begun writing essays. I would always hate using quotes because I thought that it was my paper, and my paper should have only one author. This was my constant attitude towards citing sources. Half of it had to do with selfishness and the other half in laziness. When I say selfish I mean that I wanted the reader all to myself. I wanted the reader to recognize how good a writer I am, and not how good a writer someone else was. I always knew that this was going to become a problem for me in college, but I didn't know it was going to become as important as it did.
MThe result of this was a decrease in my grade. My essay "Paradise" was a very good essay, but it hardly used any quotes and for that reason I did not receive the grade I was aiming for. I knew that it was a good essay, but I was a bit upset at the fact that the essay didn't get a grade for what it really was. I felt that the essay was powerful and it didn't matter if I hadn't used any quotes. I felt that I didn't need any quotes because the essay was an essay about the images of beaches and the effect that they have had in my life. There was no need for me to bring another persons opinion when I am talking about my life. But the fact was that my grade was on the line, and I was not going to jeopardize that for anything
This is an excerpt from my third essay called "Gangsters and Thugs" about the way that gangsters and thugs say and do everything we want to but can not, and the effect of the gangster being from another country.
Warshaw explains that "the gangster speaks for us, expressing that part of the American psyche which rejects the qualities and demands of modern life or 'Americanism itself'" (344). The gangster expresses what we can not express in our everyday lives because we would be considered somewhat crazy by American society.
I was just beginning to learn how to incorporate another person's quote into my essay. This quote was one that I would have been completely against before because it is one of those I would have felt stole the reader from me. This quote seemed to fit in perfectly with what I was trying to say in my essay. In the end I realized that the gangster topic was one that required a lot of quotations because there are so many perspectives and opinions that my paper would not be complete without them. I also realized that topics that have more perspectives and opinions make the best essays because they arouse conflict.
After the midterm portfolio I promised myself that I would always use a quote from someone else. And ever since then I can not imagine a paper without a quote. When I look back and compare my essay "Paradise" with my essay "Gangsters and Thugs" it seems as if two completely different persons wrote them. While working on "Gangsters and Thugs" I started to begin to explore with the citing technique and I actually found out that I could be very useful. Citing sources has become such an important factor in all of my essays after the Mid-Term portfolio that I can even remember how was it possible that I wrote a whole paper without challenging or agreeing with someone else's idea. The essay right after the Midterm portfolio included quotes, and the goes to show that I was willing to try this new technique immediately, and I worked pretty well. When I compare essay 2 to 3, I feel as if different people wrote the essays. Then after I began to use quotes I began to play with it a little bit and see how I could challenge what someone else was saying like in essay 4.
This essay was on the whole concept of branding and the effects that it has on society today. This quote was about The Economist newspaper and their opinion on consumers being hard to reach with advertising.
"The Economist also argues "Consumers are also harder to reach. They are busier; more distracted and have more media to choose from". One can see the truth in this statement considering all the ads, billboards, commercials and even internet Pop-Ups. But the fact is that our space is almost always being taken over by the same images, and they are usually the wealthiest companies who can afford this space"
I disagreed with the economist in a respectful way and carefully stated how I didn't necessarily disagree, but mentioned factors that play a big part in proving what he said not so accurate. This shows that I have a fair minded ethos. Showing that I have a fair minded ethos will actually allow the reader to realize that I am a fair minded writer, and that will actually gain me a type of respect from the reader that will allow him/her to feel that they aren't reading a bias essay. I also learned how I can agree with my opinion without having to put someone else's opinion down. I have realized that by disagreeing with someone else's opinion you can actually make yourself a better writer, and the readers will notice it. I realized that when I use quotes, I am not lending the paper to another author, I am just showing another persons perspective and what I think about it. By then adding on and saying what I think about the other person's perspective, I am keeping the focus of the essay on my opinion. I take the reader back from the author whose work I cited, and the paper remains "mine". I found that not only learning to use quotes, but using quotes that are relevant to the topic can be a deciding factor between an A paper and a C paper. I feel that this has been a very important step in English for me because now it seems to me as if I can not write a paper without using any quotes; it has completely changed my writing style. The irony of the story is that now I have found myself addicted to bringing in other peoples opinions to give my paper some other perspectives, when in the beginning all I wanted was to keep the focus on myself and my own opinions.
When I really come to think of it, I believe that the writer I used to be was a selfish and lazy writer. I say selfish because I would not allow my essays to include anyone else's words. I felt that if the reader has chosen to read my essay, they should get my essay and my opinions only. I also believe that I did not use quotes because of laziness. I did not want to go through the whole process of looking for a quote, adding the quote and then citing my quote at the end of my paper. In the end I found out that the laziness and selfishness were indeed like writing sins. The greed and sloth were keeping me from getting the types of grades that I deserved, it is a good thing that I realized the terrible mistake I was committing in time to be able to show my professor what I am capable of doing. I also learned that one can not say he/she likes or dislikes something without trying it first.
Introduction sets the reader up for a story of discovery (not the only way to begin).
Notice the reflection on the problem of using sources
Notice that in order to make a point about his use of sources, he cites his own writing and explains its significance.
Here the writer makes a claim about his growth in dealing with sources.
Here he provides evidence for his claim.
Here the writer discusses the meaning of the evidence that he has presented.
Notice that the conclusion is an elaboration on the material in the introduction. There’s a clear focus on a thesis.
Self-assessment would have stronger if he’d dealt with more of the Outcomes Statements.