An at Brunel University London, but has also

An individual’s learning needs can additionally be thought
of as ‘development needs’ (Alex, 2008). Being able to assess your own learning
needs is a vital stage in the inculcative process as it leads to a change in
practices through perpetual experiences (Grant, 2002). Progressing through term
one as a first-year student, I have acknowledged a transition from understanding
dependence to learning autonomy after prosperously completing my A-Level
examinations. The onerous evolution has not only given me the opportunity to
reflect upon my edification needs and envision in what way the first-year
experience will equip me for the remaining period at Brunel University London,
but has also allowed me to ponder upon the significant qualities which I will
necessitate for my future occupation. Recognising your individual learning
demands can be a rather problematic experience: even though we all do it. Given
that, I find classifying your needs leads to a ‘personal’ approach towards
learning, increasing enthusiasm (Stanton, 2000). As an Education Studies
student, it is important that I continue to bring up-to-date my knowledge and engage
in life-long learning as “information skills are an essential element of
life-long learning” (Bundy et al, 2004). “Education needs a new model
of learning – learning that is based on the information and resources of the
real world” (Breivik, 1998).

 

During
the first term I have come to understand that the terms ‘reflective practice’ are
known to be that which allow you to “understand the process of learning through
experiences towards gaining new insights of self/practice” (Boud et al 1985). Gaining
knowledge through experience not only requires you to examine assumptions of
everyday practice, but also entails you to critically evaluate your own
responses, which is what I will be doing. I will be recapturing practice
experiences to gain an innovative understanding for future practices through a
form of “specialised thinking” (Dewey 1933). Some of the learning needs I am
going to be exploring are as follows: staying motivated, handling stress,
managing time, note- taking, referencing and optimising reading.

 

The
first term at Brunel University has been filled with fresh experiences,
excitements and challenges, and I have enjoyed every second of this
overwhelming experience. The opening term as a university student allowed me to
reflect upon the way I have been working up until becoming an undergraduate
student. In short, the anxiousness and remarkable amount of cluelessness added
to this experience as I was expecting the unexpected without knowing what to
expect. The change from a school-based sixth form to university has taught me a
lot about myself, the way in which I study, the so called ‘hacks’ I would use
when it came to writing assignments and the way that I perceive life in
general. An eye-opening involvement it has been.

 

The highlight
of this term was the ‘Big Day Out’. This day required me to assess the diverse
works of artists and explore the deeper meanings of the content presented. This
exciting opportunity gave me an insight into ‘digging’ for the implicit
meanings behind content as supposed to taking away what I visualise. Understanding
the struggles involved was a reflective experience, which can be applied to upcoming
assignments. I captured many beautiful pieces to look back at.

 

During
the first semester I spent a lot of time endeavouring to increase my levels of
motivation which is (Gredler, Broussard and Garrison, 2004) “the attribute that
moves us to do or not do something” after a long summers break. Being motivated
at all times was my main concern as motivation directs behaviours towards
specific goals. “Motivation leads to an increase in effort and energy” (Csikszentmihaly
1989). To ensure I was perusing every task wholeheartedly and not
apathetically, I decided to commit to keeping a planner in which I would record
the due dates for each assignment, manage my time, and upcoming events. The use
of a planner allowed me to take control of incomplete tasks and quit accusing
procrastination methods for having too much work. I am aware that enthusiasm
will be an ongoing struggle throughout my academic journey as it is a temporary
state. To be driven at all times, an obligation is required to believe in
myself as this is something I lack. “Students must believe they are competent
in academic domains to feel they have self-worth” (Covington, 1992, cited in Eccles & Wigfield, 2002).

 

The
overwhelming lifestyle at university can be exciting but also unpleasantly
stressful. The capability to classify stress can recover our mental and
physical wellbeing as stress can be “threatening” (Lazarus, 1966). I have dealt
with a fair amount of strain in the first semester due to private reasoning
more so than academic reasoning, this lead to a restriction in my work
performance, health, relationships and personal development. Some of the common
reactions I faced due to stress include: anxiety, inability to concentrate and
physical symptoms however, I have accomplished my journey through the first
term despite the struggles. “It’s almost impossible to
live without some stress” (Whitman, 1985). Moving forward, I have come to understand
that nobody feels free of stress, “we all define stress somewhat differently”
(Youngs, 1986). 53% of students reported an increase in stress levels since
starting university (Student Living Report, 2002). I appreciate what I have
learnt through this learning: ensuring that I am planning ahead for a positive
future.

 

Taking notes is a significant portion of the life of every
student. Note-making involves the process of: understanding, selecting,
analysing, summarising and organising. In lectures, I have found a struggle in
noting important ideas alongside paying attention. To avoid this issue from
reoccurring I have decided to print off the materials required for the lectures
prior to the talks, this is also efficient as I am able to add to existing
notes. “The preponderance of studies confirms that students recall more lecture
material if they record their notes” (Bligh, 2000). This idea has also been
supported by (Kiewra et al, 1991) who suggests “reviewing notes by the
instructor significantly improves recall of lecture material”. Whilst
researching, I discovered that on average 11% of first-year students record
“important notes” (Locke, 1977). Therefore, signifying that note-taking is an
aspect which I must focus on as the process involves a complex set of skills
and interaction with the lecturer. Given that, participating in lectures will
also aid me in improving my academic development. Blackboard Learn provides a feature
‘Panopto Recordings’ which is advantageous as all learning materials have been
recorded, these materials consist of verbal and visual content. Being a visual
learner, this is beneficial as I am able to view the slides of the lectures as
well as listen to the lectures thoroughly to consolidate my learning.

 

Referencing is an expectation which comes with completing
assignments as an undergraduate. At Brunel, it is an obligation to read, research
and use information sources in your academic writing. “The value of referencing
in student development has been overlooked” (Neville 2007). Referencing has
been the toughest aspect of adjusting to university life as Harvard referencing
was an advanced concept that I had never come across. In the view of the fact
that I found this concept difficult to grasp, I decided to enquire on the
method through asking family members, online study and questioning within the
institution. After finalising the first semester, I am self-doubting my capability
to reference as I am unfamiliar with the guidelines of referencing. To progress,
I will need to establish a routine of recording bibliographic information whilst
using sources, continue altering through feedback provided. Consistency is
required as this is important when referencing. Given that, an additional supporting
idea is to allow myself to proofread the references list as many times before submitting
an assignment as unnecessary mistakes can cost marks, this is something I have experienced
on a current assignment.

 

Along with writing and reasoning, reading is a crucial and influential
activity that I must engage in. Since the introduction of this semester, I have
established that the reading lists provided are often too lengthy and there is little
time to absorb the learning given. There is no escape from reading as along
with observation, reading will underpin my academic work. “Research studies
show students take a surface approach to reading” (Biggs, 1998). In order to gain
benefit from the readings provided, I may perhaps group the texts together to
avoid the readings piling up. “Readers negotiate the meaning with the author by
applying their prior knowledge” (Maleki, Heerman, 1992). This technique will assist
me to work through each reading and point out significant concepts to support
future assignments as there are many relations between the modules.

 

To conclude, this assignment has given me an insight into the
ways I can aid my learning and the importance of meeting these education needs
for a bright future. Through examining and reflecting, I have a changed outlook
on how I can advance my academic journey here at Brunel University and make the
most of the skills I am currently working on. I look forward to completing the
year.