Notes: Learning to Reflect

Note

This is version 1.0 of a design for a learning module. For more information, see " Shorter Learning Module for Teaching Students to a Write Job Application ". This material is by Tom Worthington, under a Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 license, except where sources are quoted. Students of ANU "Computing Project" (course COMP8715), should refer to the version provided by the university.

Introduction

Overview

Video: Overview

These are the notes for the Work Portfolio Package (WPP) module of ANU Computing Project graduate course (COMP8715).

These notes contain content intended for instructors, as well as students, to be used in conjunction with online exercises, and face-to-face workshops. Students will be prompted by the ANU Wattle Learning Management System, as to which parts to read, when.

The module is designed to help students to develop capabilities expected of working professionals to identify their development needs, how they will acquire these and to reflect on what they have learned.

Learning Outcomes

The module is aligned with two of the outcomes for the course:

3. "learn any specific technical skills required by their topic, and apply them to project work.
4. apply and deepen skills in oral and written communication, and apply these in a project context."
From Computing Project, Course COMP8715, ANU, 2019. URL https://programsandcourses.anu.edu.au/course/comp8715

Indicative Assessment

Two online quizzes, 1% per quiz. Contributions to two discussion forums, 2 per forum. Two assignments, 7% per assignment. Peer feedback from students in the forums, and the first assignment, will be taken into account in grading by the examiners.

For each quiz students will answer three to five questions, with multiple choice and short answers. The quizzes will be automatically marked by the system. Questions will be randomly selected from a question bank, with ordering of multiple choice answers randomized.

For each forum students will be asked to answer two or three set questions with a few sentences (the questions are listed in the notes at the end of each part). Students are then asked to reply to the post by another student. Students will then give ratings for the answer (0, 1, or 2). The Instructor will provide a mark for each student, taking into account the student ratings.

For each assignment students will be given a question and a marking rubric. After submitting their own answer, for the first assignment, students will rate three others using the rubric, and provide feedback. The instructor will review the student feedback, making any changes needed. The examiner will then allocate 90% of the grade for the student's work and 10% for their feedback. For the last assignment students are not required to rate or provide feedback.

Overall mark calculation

Mark: 2% quizzes + 4% forums + 14% assignments = 20% of course assessment.

Course specific policies 

Late submission of assessment is not accepted.

Workload

Four hours of student learning time, consisting of participation in online forums and assessment activities. A one hour face-to-face workshop is provided to assist with each assignment.

Prescribed Texts

An eBook is supplied with the course. In addition, from ANU Academic Skills:  Reflective writing, reflective essays, learning journals. From ANU Careers:, cover lettersaddressing selection criteria, resumes, and ANU Careers Guide (2018). ANU also provides samples of cover letters, selection criteria, and resumes for students.

Course schedule

The course consists of two parts, one topic per part, with one quiz, forum, and assignment, for each:

  1. Learn. The student identifies skills they have, what they require, and how to acquire them. Assignment task is to address a typical set of selection criteria for a position.

  2. Report and reflect. The student deepen skills in oral and written communication. Assignment task is to prepare an application for a real position, revising the responses to selection criteria from the previous assignment.

Communication platform

ANU Wattle is used. Students and instructor will use the Moodle Learning Management system tools in Wattle:

  1. Dialogue for one-to-one communication.

  2. Forum for group communication and discussion.

  3. Quiz tool for quizzes.

  4. Workshop for assignments.

References

ANU Careers Guide: A practical guide to planning your career and maximising your employability, Version 7, ANU Careers (2018). URL http://www.anu.edu.au/files/resource/DSA173813%20Careers%20Guide%20v7%20WEB.pdf

Tina Cockburn; Tracey Carver; Melinda Shirley; Iyla Davies, Using E-Portfolio to Enable Equity Students to Reflect on and Document Their Skill Development, 15 Waikato L. Rev. 64 (2007) URL https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/waik15&i=68

1. Learn

Video: Learn

In this first of two parts, you will investigate what you need to learn for your project, and long term for your career. The aim is to prepare you to be a professional in your field, which includes the ability to take responsibility for your future professional development.

Learning Goals

In a group project you are undertaking one or more roles as a team member. This requires technical and professional skills. What skills will you need, which you do not already have? Where will you obtain these skills?

Co-curricular Programs

Part of being a professional is assessing if you have the skills needed for a job, and going about gaining skills needed. This is commonly called Lifelong learning. Development relevant to maintaining and expanding skills in a specific job or discipline is Professional Development.

The European Commission (EC) defines Lifelong learning as:

"... all general education, vocational education and training, non-formal learning and informal learning undertaken throughout life, resulting in an improvement in knowledge, skills and competences or participation in society within a personal, civic, cultural, social and/or employment-related perspective, including the provision of counselling and guidance services."

From Annex III - Glossary of terms, p. 324, Erasmus+ Programme Guide, European Commission, 2019.

The Australian Computer Society (ACS), uses a narrower range of topics for its Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program.

"CPD hours should be balanced and tailored to your career path, taking into consideration competencies to date and future interests. Some examples include:

  • Formal study – completing subjects from ACS education programs, university, TAFE and other providers
  • Learning activities – undertaking structured training, short courses
  • ICT forums – attending ACS Branch Forums, Special Interest Groups, industry conferences
  • Self-directed learning – reading industry journals or blogs, reviewing online resources
  • Contribute to the ICT profession – volunteering with ACS working groups and Branch Executive Committees, presenting conference papers, academic research."
From: "Pathways to Certification", Australian Computer Society, 2016

As well as formal coursework, universities offer a range of co-curricular activities for students.

co-curricular [adjective, North American]:

  • (of an activity at a school or college) pursued in addition to the normal course of study."
From: Definition of co-curricular in English, English Oxford Living Dictionaries, Oxford University Press, 2019

Some co-curricular activities offered through ANU Student Experience are:

  1. ANU+ A program that formally recognises your experience and contribution achieved through volunteering.
  2. GULP: the Global Undergraduate Leaders Program.
  3. ANU Learning Communities: Five student led organisations for areas of common interest: creative arts, cultures, global challenges, history, and sustainability.
  4. Set4ANU Program: volunteer program to support new students, including mentoring.
  5. Student Research Conference: A student-led conference for Undergraduate, Honours and Masters by coursework ANU students from all disciplines.
  6. Undergraduate Research Journal: Publishes essays by ANU undergraduates. Students gain experience in the scholarly publication process of peer review and editing.

Universities offer programs for students to gain skills as entrepreneurs. ANU sponsors First Wednesday Connect, and InnovationACT.

Universities also offer free online courses. The ANU offers courses through the edX Consortium. Topics include technology management, and marketing.

STAR-L Approach to Learning

ANU's Student Experience and Career Development unit suggests using the STAR approach for responding to selection criteria. Cockburn, Carver, Shirley, and Davies (p. 71, 2007), discuss an expanded STAR-L approach used at Queensland University of Technology (QUT): Situation, Task, Action, Result, and lessons Learnt.

  1. "Situation - The situation is the context in which the experience occurred. ...
  2. Task - The task is what was actually required of you in the situation. ...
  3. Action - Action refers to the steps that you personally took in response to the task. ...
  4. Result - Result refers to the outcome of your actions. How did your actions contribute to the completion of the task? How did your actions affect the final outcome of the situation? ...
  5. Learnt - Learnt refers to the things you have learned from the experience. Highlight any skills or abilities that you have developed or improved as a result of the experience. ..."
From: Cockburn, Carver, Shirley, and Davies (p. 71, 2007)
You will be asked to apply STAR-L in developing your WPP.

Responding to Selection Criteria

In the first assignment you are required to prepare a statement addressing the selection criteria for a typical position (you will then refine this in the final assignment).

The ANU Careers define selection criteria as "... the qualifications, skills, personal attributes and performance standards needed to perform the duties listed on the duty statement/position description." For computing positions the selection criteria are usually explicitly listed. The may be divided into categories, such as essential and desirable. Your response to selection criteria may duplicate information provided in the CV.

The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) examples of selection criteria:

    1. "demonstrated capacity to communicate effectively
    2. good organisational and administrative skills
    3. proven ability to work as part of a team
    4. well developed customer service skills
    5. proven ability to manage projects."
From "Fact sheet 5: Addressing selection criteria", Australian Public Service Commission, 2018.

An example of using STAR to the first of these criteria (communication):

"Situation – role as Research Support Officer at Department of XYZ

Task – needed to ensure that managers were kept informed of policies and procedures

Action or approach – initiated monthly newsletter, which was emailed to each manager. Took responsibility for writing the main articles. This involved obtaining ideas and input from other stakeholders to ensure that the articles reflected managers’ needs (in terms of content and language)

Result – led to improved lines of communication between managers and the Research Support Unit. Feedback was consistently excellent. Received divisional achievement award for newsletter quality."

From "Fact sheet 5: Addressing selection criteria", Australian Public Service Commission, 2018.

The APSC did not use the expanded STAR-L. Adding Learning to this might give, for example:

"Learning - While experienced in the preparation of newsletter content, needed to learn the use of the department's WIZZO social media tool. This required not only learning technical aspects, but group online working."

As included in the WPP:

"I possess strong written communication skills, which I have developed over the course of my career. ...

As Research Support Officer at the Department of XYZ, I needed to ensure that managers were kept informed of policies and procedures. To do this, I initiated a monthly newsletter, which was emailed to each manager. I took responsibility for writing the main articles in each publication. This involved obtaining ideas and input from other stakeholders to ensure that the articles reflected the needs of managers, both in terms of content and language. I received consistently excellent feedback in relation to this newsletter from these internal clients and my own manager. I received a divisional achievement award for the quality of this newsletter from management. Importantly, this initiative resulted in improved lines of communication between managers and the Research Support Unit."

From "Fact sheet 5: Addressing selection criteria", Australian Public Service Commission, 2018.

Communication skills, teamwork and interpersonal skills are the top three criteria assessed by Australian employers (as reported in the AAGE Employer Survey, p. 48, 2019).

ANU Careers categorize selection criteria into:

  1. General questions - example: "Outline your relevant postgraduate qualifications". Provide more details, and highlight what is most relevant from your CV.
  2. Behaviourally-based questions - example: "'Proven teamwork/leadership skills".

As discussed previously, ANU Careers use the STAR approach for responding to selection criteria. Cockburn, Carver, Shirley, and Davies (p. 71, 2007), discuss an expanded STAR-L approach used at Queensland University of Technology (QUT): Situation, Task, Action, Result, and lessons Learnt.

The expanded STAR-L, with  "Learnt" is used here,  as being aware of the skills and abilities you have developed is part of being a professional. In the second assignment you will be required to document what you have learned from co-curricular activities.
ANU Careers provide help with selection criteria and examples.

Self-directed Learning

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, distinguish between self-directed/required, and informal/formal learning:

"Self-directed (autonomous) development in an informal environment
  • Keeping up to date on industry news and events by reading relevant publications
  • Taking a walking tour of an historical area (e.g., Gettysburg, PA)
Self-directed (autonomous) development in a formal environment
  • Taking an online course outside of the workplace to expand relevant knowledge base
  • Taking a photography class
Required (mandated) development in an informal environment
  • Receiving mentoring by a more experienced colleague to learn a job-required skill
  • Reviewing company policy related to job-specific topics
Required (mandated) development in a
formal environment
  • Participating in annual employment-wide training to adhere to human resources policies at work
  • First-aid training for school employees"
From "How people learn II: Learners, contexts, and cultures", p. 201, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2018.

These different categories of learning may prove useful in deciding what you need at different times in your career.

Suggested Readings

  1. Identifying your skills, interests & values, ANU Careers, 2018
  2. Selection criteria, ANU Careers, 2018
  3. "Learning Activities and Environments", pp. 200 & 201, "How people learn II: Learners, contexts, and cultures", p. 201, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2018.

Quiz

Complete online Quiz 1 now.

Questions

Answer these questions in Forum 1 now. Then discuss and rate your fellow student's answers.
  1. Describe an example from you own experience in terms of STAR-L:  Situation, Task, Action, Result, and lessons Learnt.

  2. Report progress on achieving learning goals you set previously. What have you started? What is going well? What has proved to not be appropriate and why? What categories of learning (self-directed/required, and informal/formal learning) did you attempt?

Assignment

Start work on Assignment 1 now. Bring your draft to Workshop 1, along with your forum posts and be prepared to discuss your work.

References

Tina Cockburn; Tracey Carver; Melinda Shirley; Iyla Davies, Using E-Portfolio to Enable Equity Students to Reflect on and Document Their Skill Development, 15 Waikato L. Rev. 64 (2007) URL https://heinonline.org/HOL/P?h=hein.journals/waik15&i=68