The purpose of this study was to conduct an exploratory investigation of how adult individuals interacting in a graduate business management course developed an awareness of themselves and the team process while participating in an experiential action research study. Adult participants who were managers and potential managers enrolled primarily in an MBA program interacted and applied an educational model to team units. The site was a Long Island private university graduate business classroom. But students also interacted through e-mail messaging and off-site locations. A pilot class (n = 19) composed of four teams was conducted the previous semester and results from the pilot are included. The study participants (n = 14) were arranged in three teams; comparison was made to the pilot.
Team problems developed in the pilot so the instructor/action researcher engaged reflective exercises in the study (Osterman & Kottkamp, 1993). The application of a learning instrument, the Learning Combination Inventory (LCI), and a reflective learning process (LMLP) was emphasized (Johnston, 1996, 1998). Qualitative methodology (Miles & Huberman, 1994), case study design (Yin, 1994), and an action research model (Mills, 2000) were utilized. Methods were triangulated and included participant observation, field notes, individual/team update, evaluative questionnaires, reflective assignments/exercises, photographs, and interviews.
Individual/team tensions seemed evident. In the pilot and study, the team product took precedence over the reflective learning process. Teams were supported and hindered by external/internal factors including: evolving technology, entertainment media, motivational needs, individualism, team accommodation, emotionalism, competition, and a tendency to break team contracts. Results illustrated that an individual’s acculturation, strength of commitment, and strength of identification to the team entity affects an individual’s team acculturation. In the study, two individuals reported a change/shift toward a team orientation while the majority reported a widening of their knowledge base and acculturation in regard to team units. The action researcher also reported a change in her approach to the learning process. This study may aid higher education faculty/facilitators in constructing a learning model that facilitates the formation of teams so that adult participants may have the meaningful context they need to develop their team skills, knowledge, and experiences.
A Deeper Understanding of Individual Learning Through a Process of Critical Reflection: A Journey Toward Personal Mastery
by Raufer, Kathleen Anne Ed.D., Rowan University, 2003, 161 pages; AAT 3173570
This action research was designed to critically examine my journey as a learner through a system that seemed to suppress my desire to learn. The critical analysis of my journey as a learner, I believe has the potential to illuminate the work of developing personal mastery. My story begins with a brief autobiography so readers may know my world of schooling, employment and higher education. Next I explore the literature related to the various components of learning and leadership including changing of self, transformative learning, seeing and mindfulness, espoused theories and theories-in-use, critical reflection, questioning, defensiveness and resistance, single-,double- and triple-loop learning and meta-learning to explore the process of leading and learning.
Ultimately the journey is a discovery of learning how I learn enabling me to understand not only ‘why things are the way they are’ but understanding just how I go about learning to reach such understanding. The journey provides a means of seeing learning through the eyes of the learner who has gained and utilized knowledge of their learning patterns and processes. This ability has allowed me to learn more effectively utilize the way in which I learn and more importantly has made learning enjoyable.
This dissertation was completed as an adult learner who, upon realizing how I learned, could take on much greater responsibility for my own learning. Learning which involves all of the senses in thinking, doing and feeling expands the notion of learning beyond the classroom and the cognitive dimension. By sharing the experiences of this learner before and after realizing how I learn will emphasize the impact this realization can have to individual learning and the importance of knowing how one learns in order to fully participate in the process.