4.3.4 Monitor and critically reflect on your use of communication skills
You need to know how to track and record your progress on your use of communication skills. Try to assess the overall quality of your written and oral work and the way you produced the work. Checklists and criteria provided as part of the project or assignment and those set out in the Bookmark can be very useful tools in helping you to assess for yourself precisely what you are doing and how well you are doing it. Unless you know what you are doing wrong, it is very difficult to improve.
To help you critically reflect on how you have used and adapted your communication skills, you may need actively to seek feedback from others to help you make a judgement on your performance and to support your own assessment. It is often helpful to ask for feedback on a specific aspect. This will make it useful and relevant to you. If you can, look at work other people have done to help consider the quality of your own work. Take time to use feedback constructively, considering it thoughtfully and weighing up any action you might take.
Think about how you can keep track of and record your progress, perhaps by using your Skills File differently. You also need to identify reliable sources of feedback (such as your tutor) and be able to use feedback constructively to help you monitor your performance.
Judging and diagnosing precise problems in your own work is difficult. Below are two checklists. The first gives common criticisms of written work, and these may act as diagnostic cues. The second is a list of helpful hints or ideas to help you in reading and understanding written material. You may find it useful to use these to help you monitor progress and improve your communication skills. Most study skills books contain helpful hints like these.
Checklist to help diagnose common problems in written work
|Choppy – ideas aren't connected very well|
|Hard to tell what the point is|
|Too much space given to one point|
|Argument ignores an obvious point of criticism|
|Doesn't give any reason to take the idea seriously|
|Part of the essay doesn't belong with the rest|
|Says something that is not believable|
|Puts ideas in a clumsy way|
|The reader will have thought of this already|
|Too few ideas|
|Example doesn't help to explain the ideas|
Checklist of hints and tips that students have found useful in relation to reading, understanding and remembering complex material
|Reread some of the material|
|Underline or highlight the main ideas|
|Ask yourself questions to test your understanding|
|Re-state the materials in your own words|
|Make an outline of the material|
|Summarise the material|
|Draw diagrams or pictures related to the material|
|Relate it to what you already know|
|Look for logical relations with the material|
|Mentally identify the most important ideas|
|Relate the material to your own ideas|
|Think about how the material could be used|
|Relate the material to your own experience|
|Think about your emotional or critical reaction to the material|