Reflection is important within education, clinical practice and lifelong learning (Taylor, 2008; Mann et al., 2009). With most of the learning reflections being sporadic through the course, Larson et al., (2016) found that daily reflections aided in student development and learning.
This could have been encouraged during our studies as a lot of the learning undertaken is new. However, I believe that subsequently that I developed my personal development plan (PDP) to be a reflective log of development from each university session.
Keeping my PDP up to date throughout the first year has helped me to keep in line with my personal development and has also given me a focus on my developmental needs on becoming a veterinary physiotherapist. I have used PDP’s or similar in my previous line of work so I find working from that format easier for me to keep on track and to achieve my personal goals (Beausaert et al., 2011; Travers et al., 2014). I have used RAG (Red, Amber, Green) rating on all areas which helps me identify the key areas for development. Using a traffic light system honestly allows you to self assess, monitor your progress and highlights where actions need to be taken or areas to be developed (Webster, 2013).
Stepping back into education as a student has been a more difficult transition than I first thought (Knowles et al., 2014; Osam et al., 2016). Being the student and not the teacher or observer has been difficult. As my instinct is to analysis and see developments in teaching and learning. I have now learnt to use this to my advantage, by digesting the developments and mulling them over, therefore reflecting upon the sessions and this has allowed for personal learning to take place in a non traditional way.
Working and studying has also been a bit of a trial and error process and has taken me a while to get into a different routine. Allowing myself more time and changing my working patterns has been beneficial (Osam et al., 2016). I am not whole heartily convinced I have it right just yet but there has been significant improvement to when I started in September.
During my studies to date, I am continually reflecting in and on action (Schön, 1991), which allows me to self-assess my knowledge and enables me to think deeper about my current knowledge and understanding and what I have to do to progress forwards (Boud, 2003). There have many sessions that during the session I have become disengaged mainly due to being a kinaesthetic learner (Drake and Pawlina, 2013), so I enjoy learning with a more practical approach and also due to the level of academic content in a short space of time. However, when I get back from lectures I digest and think about what we have been taught and apply it myself into a practical based situation, this helps me with learning the content and how it is going to be useful in the future (Cheetham and Chiver, 2001).
Anatomy seems to be my nemesis at the moment, with the more pressure I put on myself to learn it the more I seem to be unable to put the anatomy into context (Custers, 2010). The assignment is not particularly helpful with applying anatomy. As the assignment wasn’t well explained therefore, the photos I have are not entirely relevant to the brief – making the assignment harder than is possibly should be. More detailed explanation (MacLelloon, 2010) and allowing a more hands on approach (Drake and Pawlina, 2013) to the equine dissection instead of an observation session would have allowed more detailed learning to take place (Crouch et al., 2004) and allowed for more applied contextualisation of knowledge (Rizzolo et al., 2010) within the assignment.
As anatomy will form one of the bases of becoming a Veterinary Physiotherapist (Paulekas and Haussler, 2009) it is of huge importance to develop a strategy that will help me learn and apply (Mega et al., 2014) both canine and equine anatomy. I have developed many different initiative teaching methods and applied them to classroom situations so therefore, it seems logical for me to adopt one of these styles for teaching myself anatomy (Russell and Korthagen, 2013). Designing lessons on anatomical features will hopefully give me more detailed knowledge on location and function of the structures and help with the forth coming exams and OSCE’s.
This module has provided a basis on which to start and grow from. I have found the PDP the most useful tool as it has allowed me to set developmental targets for myself as well as a tracking tool for my progress. I will definitely be keeping my PDP active throughout the duration of my studies. The creation of my blog has advanced my knowledge and skills in web page production – which is certainly going to be beneficial for running my own business.
The module has also helped us grow as a group and develop peer relationships. These relationships have been very beneficial to my own personal learning journey. The level of support from peers has been encouraging and the close network that is among some of us will no doubt aid each other throughout the duration of the course, especially when it comes to exams.
Overall, and most importantly, I feel I have progressed since September in my academic ability and in my professional skills. Most importantly I have learnt how to identify and develop the practical and personal skills needed to become a veterinary physiotherapist and I looking forward to the rest of my journey.
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