Succeed in the workplace
Succeed in the workplace

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Succeed in the workplace

7 The importance of reflection

Photo of a person standing on a beach at sunset with the sky reflected in the sea.
Figure 10 Reflection

You have had a lot of practice in reflecting on what you have done over the course of the last eight weeks, and this is an important skill in its own right. Before your final learning review of the course, watch a short video in which Stephen McGann discusses his own experience of learning how to reflect in practice, and why he now understands it to be so important.

Activity 8 Learning from reflection

Timing: Allow approximately 5 minutes

In this video, actor and OU graduate Stephen McGann discusses how learning to reflect on what he did was an integral part of his degree course. He introduces the term ‘reflective practice’ – which is the same skill you have been encouraged to use on this short course, although you may not have always been aware of it. Listen to his views on what he gained from reflective practice and why it has become such an important skill that he continues to use it. Make a few notes.

Download this video clip.Video player: reflect_1.mp4
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Stephen McGann:
The good tutors would say this thing again and again to me. It was a peculiar phrase, and called ‘reflective practice’, what we’re trying to teach you is reflective practice. I remember one time thinking, you know, really almost looking the phrase up, thinking what does this thing mean – reflective practice? Because I know it’s about the abstract of what a higher education really is about.
I think if you can make a degree, if you can make higher education formate around reflective practice, teaching people not simply to learn things and get a piece of paper at the end of it, but to learn things about themselves. How do we think? How do we think now? How do we think differently to the way we thought before? Why do we think differently? And what useful things have been learned? In what ways am I not thinking the best way I can? When I did this particular project what were the ways that worked really well? And what were the ways, practically, in failing to do a certain thing, that I can actually conquer it?
A particular example was, there was a course in my third year, I will even name it, called Team Building in Distributed Environments. It was a course about the way human beings use computers to work together. I didn’t get my highest marks for that. I whinged half way through the course to my tutor about it. I looked at what I’d done: I thought I deserved a higher mark for what I did.
My tutor was very clever. My tutor actually steered me towards a way to look at what I’d done, in a positive way, with reflective practice, to look at why things had formated in a certain way, to learn from them. And then open up like a sponge and take more information in, to try, and the solution, in a sense, would be the victory – the way I worked my way out of the problems I’d caused would be the way, and he was absolutely right.
And to him, as an apology to him, it’s the one single course, the one I whinged through, which I’ve used more in my working life after my degree than any other course.
And it was the reflective practice element, what I learned about myself and the way I work, which has provided me with more, another one of those great buzz words, with intelligence. If we are to be the knowledge economy, that is where the intelligence of the knowledge economy lies. If we are to be flexible, how else can you find flexibility unless you self-reflect?
End transcript
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Hopefully Stephen inspired you to want to continue to use your reflective skills. You may want to jot down in your notebook any thoughts about how and when you might do this.

For now, at least, put your reflective skills into practice in the final section of this week, which invites you to look back over the course and record your main learning points.

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