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Essay: Reflective essay based on Kolb’s (1984) cycle of reflective learning

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  • Subject area(s): Leadership essays
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  • Published: June 9, 2021*
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  • Reflective essay based on Kolb’s (1984) cycle of reflective learning
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This essay is a reflective essay based on Kolb’s (1984) cycle of reflective learning I will be reflecting upon my experience as part of a group in which the end result was presenting a group presentation. Reflective practice is a mixture of deliberate and calculated thinking alongside more spontaneous thoughts (Neilson, Stragnell & Jester, 2007). Kolbs (1984) cycle consists of four stages. The first stage is concrete experience, which is when the experiences occur or are completed. The second stage is the reflective observation stage whereby the person reflects on the experience. The next stage is abstract conceptualisation this is concluding and learning form the experience. The final stage is active experimentation which involves planning and trying out what you have learned. Kolbs model creates an action plan similar to that in Gibbs (1988) model. In compression in John (2017) model the emphasis is more on retrospective reflection rather than active experimentation.

Concrete experience: we were split into groups in our seminar. I was in a group of 5 and I was lucky enough to know one member of my group but I had never met the other four (who all new each other). From the first group meeting I nominated myself to be the leader and so was involved in delegating tasks to the other team members. This was difficult as at least one of our team members were absent per meeting despite this, due to there being at least 4 team members per meeting there was no social loafing, as predicted by (Klung & Bagrow, 2016). Due to not everyone turning up to every meeting it was hard to contact those who were absent to explain to them what they needed to do creating extra work. However due to social media I was able to make contact with them and explain the tasks to the absent team members. The creation of the PowerPoint was a gradual process that we started during our first seminar and was completed four days before we were due to present our presentation. We faced similar challenges which were also faced in multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting (Kassianos, 2015) such as availability problems with everyone taking different modules and so having a different schedule and outside of university commitments made it challenging to find a time that suited everyone. I was lucky enough to get on very well with all group members the group was very cohesive which in turn produced a positive group working environment. We ran through the presentation before we presented it to the group to time our PowerPoint and to reduce everyone’s anxiety. Everyone in the group was apprehensive about presenting but the overall nerves were no more than you would normally expect.

Reflective observation: before the first seminar began I was made aware that we would be split in to groups this made me feel anxious as I had no idea who my group members would be and what they would be like. During the seminar I felt relief when I knew I was in a group with a friend of mine but I was still nervous and felt apprehensive towards the other group members. However as I introduced myself to the other members and they introduced themselves to me I felt my anxiety lessen as found by (Marletta, Sarli, Caricati & Mancini, 2017). Although apprehensive and anxious I was excited about the opportunity to make more friends and get to know more of my class mates. The other thing that I found to be anxiety provoking was the thought of the presentation and the fact that I had to rely on other people to produce a good standard of work to be complied in the presentation. I had to rely on the rest of the group members having good presentation skills I think it’s this reason why I decided to take the lead for the first few sessions which could have resulted in some members not feeling able to speak up this has also been found in MDTs by Lichtenstein et al. 2004. I felt angry and irritated about some members lack of commitment as not everyone turned up to every meeting with some people missing meetings more than one occasion I found this to be frustrating as it produced anxiety about the quality of the information within the presentation. Research has found that the group dynamic is effected by each members dedication to the end goal the presentation (Forsyth, 2018). As a results of this the absent members received a debrief of what we disused at the meeting from me. At points I might have been a bit overbearing and my frustration may have come across. As we discussed how we wanted to present our presentation I felt confused as there was a suggestion by a team member that we should all dress up as e.g. a psychiatrist and other suggestions (right before we presented our presentation to the class) of using a stick man to explain our chosen roles. This all produced heated debate which made me feel uncomfortable and resulting in me taking a step back as the role of leader and not really contributing to this debate which was ultimately solved through negotiation (McGrath & Holewa, 2006).

Abstract conceptualisation : although initially anxious about the social interaction involved in this task I made great friends and cemented pre-existing friendships within the group which I will take away from this task. I have learned that despite being anxious the apprehension experienced when I first met my group members wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be and I coped really well. This was the first time I have ever been group leader I have learned that I am good with organising people and delegating tasks. However I might be overly controlling and rigid. This comes down to having overly high expectations of myself and others. My slight perfectionist personality streak came out resulting from self-inflicted pressuring myself to come out of university with a good degree. I have also learned that I am not very good with coping with conflict, when there was conflicting ideas about how to present the presentation. This conflict which caused me to take a back seat as leader and to dissociate from the group I think this is due to prior childhood trauma. Other members of the group, because of different life experiences to mine, were comfortable and sat with the disagreement with some members thriving off it. Most of the group as a whole were anxious about the pentation although one member wasn’t because they are used to giving presentations.

Active experimentation: based on what I have learned from this experience in future team work (and If I am ever involved in a MDT) I will try and be less overbearing and controlling. This will be achieved by putting more trust in people and their ability to work effectively and letting them run with their own ideas instead of micromanaging them. This strategy was found to be effective in MDT team (Fay, Borrill, Amir, Haward & West, 2006). I will try not to retreat from conflict by engaging and contributing rather than avoiding and/or running away from it. I think as a non-confrontational person if I develop the confidence to participate when there is conflict in future I will be able to help the group resolve differences and negotiate a solution in a calm and inclusive manner. This will make me a better leader as well as a better team member.

My overall conclusion from this experience is that I can be a leader and that I can lead effectively although admittedly can be over controlling in this role. I have also learned that presentations are nothing be scared of or to shy away from and that the feeling of apprehensive in relation to public speaking is normal.

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