Learning through experience is one of the most effective tools of equipping oneself with knowledge. It results in transformation of the ideologies one holds in light of the practical situations. However, the benefits are more if a person takes an objective stance instead of being subjective (Kolb 1984). In order to discuss my experience in class effectively, I will make use of Kolbs Learning Cycle, which entails concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation.
According to Kolb, concrete experience is a major aspect that enables one to grasp the details of the occurrences of the learning environment (Kolb 1984, p. 84). In my case, the experience started during the first assignment. We were required to work in a group in order to develop a presentation for launching the Scottish History Festival. The selection of the group members was random. Since I am an introvert, I had interacted with only a few members of my class. For this reason, I did not have the surety that I would be in a group where I knew any of the members. In our group of four, I had interacted with only one member. The rest of the members knew each other, and referred to each other using their first names. Since I had related with one member, I gained the confidence of interacting with the rest.
Instead of holding our meetings in the group discussion sections in the library, we opted for the school cafeteria. This enabled us to have an informal interaction, and as a result, we became acquainted with each other more easily. The assignment of tasks was also easy as every member was willing to work towards the success of the team. I was appointed as the team leader, and as such had the responsibility of planning for meetings and conducting the discussions. The major challenge I faced was when one of the members skipped five of our meetings without excusing himself. This resulted in assigning the relevant persons roles to the rest of the team members.
The second stage of the learning cycle is reflective observation, where one is able to analyse critically the experiences that people obtained from an occurrence. This aspect enables one to be objective in relation to the incidences (Kolb 1984, p. 84). The thought of working in a team did not excite me since I am an introvert. Due to my inability to socialize with others, I preferred working alone on my assignments. However, since it was mandatory to form a group discussion, I joined one. The rest of the members were rather excited since the teamwork would help to simplify the task. I later became excited about it after I interacted with the members of my group at the cafeteria. It became evident that the team could be handy in perfecting the assignment, and consequently score high marks.
I was also thrilled when my team members appointed me as their team leader. This gave me a chance to apply the theoretical knowledge of leadership I had gained during my degree course. During the appointment of the leader, the other members emphasized that they were willing to be collaborative as we handled the task. Failure on part of one of our members to turn up for the discussions was rather irritating. This is because we had initially set the rules to work as a team. The division of work, where each member had to research on a specific element of the assignment, was proof that the participation of every member was crucial (Salas et al. 2013, p. 78). To ensure that all the tasks were handled effectively, we divided the work assigned to the absent members amongst the remaining three.
Kolbs third stage in the cycle is abstract conceptualization. It enables one to develop concepts and conclusions based on the reflective observation (Kolb 1984, p84). We performed well in our assignment since we were able to achieve our target. From the experience, I learnt the necessity of working as a team. One of the advantages of working in a team is simplification of the task occasioned by the division of work. In addition, members tend to gain more insights on various aspects during the discussions and compilation of the work. When each team member handles the assigned task effectively, there is a surety of success.
However, challenges can reduce the effectiveness of the team if handled wrongly. In my case, I did not handle the challenge the absent member posed, effectively. As an efficient leader, I could have asked what challenges the person was facing, and as a team, help the member. This would have enabled the absentee member to develop a sense of belonging, and participate in the accomplishment of the assignment (Salas et al. 2013, p. 81). Although I divided the tasks of the member amongst us, I paid little attention to the personal needs of the members and focussed on work as the source of motivation. As a result, our relationship was based on the assignment since there was no development of a sense of belonging (Cohen & Bailey 1997, p. 260).
I have embraced the concept of active experimentation to ensure that I apply what I learnt in various scenarios (Kolb 1984, p. 84). For instance, when faced with a challenge, I can assess all the available options to come up with the cause action that ensure an optimum outcome. Working in teams would also help in application of the acquired concepts. As such, I can engage in various group discussions addressing various units. Through the groups, I can apply my skills conducting discussions more effectively. In addition, ensuring that the group works more as a team would help increase the benefits. In these teams, I would not only focus on the task but also on the needs of the members. For instance, the team may meet the social needs of the members, which would increase their sense of belonging. In the end, the source of motivation would not only be work and passing examinations, but also the social aspect (Tjosvold & Tjosvold 2015, p. 56). Constant evaluation of my performance through Kolbs Learning Cycle would help in development of strategies that would help in improving my skills.
Clearly, teamwork poses more advantages compared to a situation where each person works solo. Some of the advantages include improved performance, division of the workload, and increased knowledge given that individuals tend to have different approaches to situations. In increasing a teams effectiveness, it is vital that the team members handle challenges effectively, to ensure that all the members function as a unit. Development of a sense of belonging improves the performance of the team.
Cohen, S. and Bailey, D. E. (1997) What makes teams work: Group effectiveness research from the shop floor to the executive suite, Journal of Management, Vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 239-290.
Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Salas, E. et al. (2013) Developing and enhancing teamwork in organizations: evidence-based best practices and guidelines, San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Tjosvold, D. and Tjosvold, M. (2015) Building the Team Organization, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
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