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3.1 Introduction

This section is the second step in using learning to help you achieve your own personal goals for change and development. This second step is really about developing additional ways to build on the evidence you gathered about yourself in Section 2. In particular it considers how other people can help you change. There are two main aspects to this. The first is about involving other people so that you can get feedback from them and increase the depth of your own self-understanding. The second
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References

Adair, J. and Allen, M. (1999) Time Management and Personal Development, London, Hawksmere.
Allen, D. (2001) Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, London, Penguin Books.
Bennett, A. (1910) How to live on 24 Hours a Day [online], http://www.web-books.com/Classics/AuthorsAD/Bennett/How/Home.htm (Accessed 18 October 2006).
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2.4.6 Your communication skills

The next activity is an opportunity to reflect on your own communication skills. Recognising which skills you already have and use is an important first step towards being able to value and develop them. If you are considering embarking on significant change then you will need to communicate with other people at some point. You may need to explain to people who are close to you what changes you are thinking about. Or you may need to use communication skills to enlist the help of other people.
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2.4.5 Reflecting on communication skills

Communication can be approached in terms of the skills needed to get a hoped-for response. By seeing communication in terms of skills, it is easier to focus on what skills you already have and use. Once you have a reasonably clear picture about this, it is much easier to see where you might want to act to increase your communication strengths and decrease any weaknesses.

It can be useful to try assessing what you see as someone else’s communication skills before you think about your o
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2.4.3 Skills

When it comes to thinking about using learning to achieve personal change, this is often couched in terms of acquiring skills that are useful for work. As we suggested in Section 1, this can lead to a rather narrow definition of change which translates as ‘getting a better job’. The importance of secure and satisfying work cannot be denied. But there are many other important aspects to life that do not involve paid work. These include relationships with family and friends, voluntary activ
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2.1 Introduction

This unit is about using learning to bring about personal change. This assumes that learning can help achieve such change. Section 2 aims to be the first step in showing you how this is possible. This section has three separate but related aspects:

  1. Section 2 looks at what the word ‘learning’ includes. This turns out to be a very wide ranging idea that suggests that human beings learn all the time. What we learn has impo
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Acknowledgements

All materials included in this unit are derived from content originated at the Open University.

1. Join the 200,000 students currently studying with The Open University.


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5.2.1 When to look at the question

At what stage do you look at the title of your next assignment?

Activity 8

Note down what you think are the advantages and disadvantages of looking at the title before and after starting to work through the relevant section of your c
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8.4 Carrying out research

During this stage you get down to the business of analysing and interpreting the meanings of all your primary and secondary source material (documents, reports, newspaper accounts, books and articles), in the ways outlined in the previous sections of this unit. As you do so you will be making notes towards your project report. In this connection, it is very important to write down full references for all the material you use as you read each item. Then you can easily find partic
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2.1 Reading

Before you begin your interrogation of a text, though, you have to get to know it in a general way. In a sense, you can ‘see’ visual texts (such as paintings, sculptures and buildings) all at once; there they are before you. You can move around them, looking at them from different angles. But with written, aural and moving image texts – in which words, sounds or images follow on from one another – you cannot become familiar with the whole thing until
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8.7.2 Assess the effectiveness of your strategy

How did you carry out your work? What lines of enquiry did you follow to reach your conclusions? Were there any dead-ends where you felt you could not make further progress, or particular insights that you felt helped you to better understand your work? You should be able to explain why you pursued some approaches but rejected others; what decisions did you make to keep you on track?

In stating your conclusions and interpreting the results of your work, you should refer back to what you
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8.7 Evaluating strategy and presenting outcomes

This stage of the framework focuses on identifying what you have achieved and how well you have achieved it. It involves you in evaluating your strategy and presenting the outcomes of your work. As you evaluate and assess your strategy, identify aspects of your problem-solving skills that you want to develop further. At the end of this stage, use the records in your Skills File to complete the activity ‘Evaluating your problem-solving strategy and presenting outcomes’ and pull together th
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8.5 Monitoring progress

This stage is about keeping track of your progress. Are you tackling your problem-solving activities effectively? How do you know? Could you have done things differently, made use of different tools (such as software packages) or facilities, taken more advantage of tutorials, training sessions or local expertise, or recognised that such support would have helped you?

Monitoring your own performance and progress needs practice; try to stand back and look at what you are doing as if you w
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8.3.3 Explore problems

Recognising and framing problems so that you can tackle them effectively is a central part of a problem-solving strategy. Often, problems are not presented in a well-defined way, and it is up to you to define exactly why a problem exists and what its boundaries are.

Recognising a problem means identifying that there is a gap between the present situation and what is desirable, and establishing that no immediate solution is at hand. This exploratory stage is about finding out more about
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8.3.1 Identify opportunities for using problem-solving skills

Where and how will you use problem-solving skills over the next 3–4 months? What opportunities do you have to develop your skills? For example, you may be working on a course project with a defined goal but the best route to that goal is not clear; you might be involved in contributing to the design of a system, improving its performance or investigating the feasibility of ideas; you may be involved in resolving resource or staffing difficulties, or in planning a major event.

Problems
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7.6.4 Evaluate the effectiveness of your strategy

Using the records in your Skills File, look back over your number skills development work and think about how your decisions, and the facilities and constraints of your working environment influenced the way you tackled the task. How effective was your strategy in improving your skills? Identify what was and was not helpful in achieving your goals and outcomes, and assess how your own strengths and weaknesses contributed to this.

Evaluate your achievements against the criteria you estab
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7.6.3 Explain results in relation to your work

You should be able to explain the results of your work, drawing attention to any patterns, trends or relationships you have identified. What are the consequences of your work? Does it support the hypotheses or assumptions you started with? How did you carry out your work? What lines of enquiry did you follow to reach your conclusions? Were there any dead-ends where you felt you could not make further progress, or particular insights that you felt helped you to understand your work better? You
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7.6.2 Present information effectively

Organise your data so that you can use it to illustrate and support your arguments or point of view. To do this successfully you must be clear about what you want to say, who is your intended audience, and what points you want your audience to understand. Think about the most appropriate way to present your findings, and whether particular types of charts, graphs or diagrams will bring out the relationships you want to demonstrate. Choosing graph axes carefully (for example using non-linear s
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7.2 Developing a strategy

Present notes/records that show you have planned your use of problem-solving skills in tackling a selected problem from your study or work. Your evidence must include:

  • the goals you hope to achieve over 3–4 months or so; you should indicate how these goals relate to the context in which you are working and to your current capabilities;

  • how you planned and explored the problem and set out the next stages of the work, for example, usi
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3 Key skills assessment units

This section gives advice and guidance to help you compile and present a portfolio of selected work. You are strongly advised to read through this section so that you have an idea of what is expected.

The key skills assessment units provide an opportunity for you to integrate your development of key skills with your work or study. You may choose to concentrate on skills that you need to develop and improve for your job, for a new course, or personally to help you keep abreast of new dev
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