Learning Course #4: Assignment 1: “Reflective Essay about a Learning Challenge” #LH2L1

This assignment should be about 1 page (single-spaced) long–there are five parts:

  1. Briefly describe your current learning situation and goal (College sophomore aiming for a degree in language? High school student unsure of your future major but enjoying math and physics? Retired, in your mid-sixties and exploring the idea of learning something completely new?)
  2. Briefly describe the learning aim that is of importance to you (it may be passing a particular class, excelling in a particular degree program, or something outside school, such as mastering culinary expertise).
  3. Describe your biggest mental challenges in achieving your learning aim
  4. Outline existing research or learning techniques from this course that are relevant to your challenges.
  5. Propose how you will apply research findings or learning techniques to help you overcome your challenges.

I am working (more than) full time. As having amassed 3 BAs and an MA shows that I like studying in an institutional setting. Since my last degree most of my learning was situational.

My goal is to develop my technical skills to be able to provide what my clients need, my business skills to manage my own small business and communication skills to be more effective in my interactions with people. I also like to take course that provide me with a certificate of some sort to enhance my credibility in the field of my work.

Balancing client work, professional development, health, personal interests (writing, music) and other responsibilities (i.e. family) is the most challenging task. Within the realm of learning there are two challenges: how to keep abreast of being informed of technology that is relevant to my future work and how to become an expert in the technology that I need to use right now. The most difficult part of the latter is the large number of details and concept I have to keep in mind when learning coding or working on a project. And fighting of distractions from social media channels and the bottomless pit of the internet in general.

Three learning techniques that can be relevant to me

  1. Procrastination–the Pomodoro technique. – This technique involves setting a timer for 25 minutes and focusing only on the topic at hand without being distracted.
  2. Gobet, F., and G. Clarkson. “Chunks in Expert Memory: Evidence for the Magical Number Four… or Is It Two?“. Memory 12, no. 6 (2004): 732-47. – Breaking down tasks or issues to no more than four chunks and then building up to larger chunks of four or less is more effective than long lists.
  3. Bilalic, M., McLeod, P., & Gobet, F. (2008). Why good thoughts block better ones: The mechanism of the pernicious Einstellung (set) effect. Cognition, 108(3), 652-661. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2008.05.005 – Proven ways of solving problems may block thinking about new problems with new, fresh eyes.

I will apply the Pomodoro method (with all it steps of setting a timer, focusing and reward at end) for challenging tasks) on a daily basis. I believe that this can counteract with my issues of being easily distracted.

Instead of making long lists I will try to break down issues into four or less chunk and attack them one by one. Then I can build up a deeper understanding of the big picture.

When getting stuck in solving a problem, I will take a brief walk or exercise (which is another idea research suggested) and then attempt to solve with a fresh eye, not using a method I am too familiar with.

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