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EH 101 Reflective Essay

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EH 101 Reflective Essay

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EH 101 Reflective Essay

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Course Code: EH101
University: The University Of Alabama is not sponsored or endorsed by this college or university

Country: United States

Critical reflection is a process of meta-cognition, ie. standing outside of ourselves to think about how we are thinking (and acting).  The purpose of critical reflection is to be able to do our job better.  Here are some examples of questions we might ask ourselves during this process:What did I just do?   How did people react to me when I did (or said) that?  Why did I do that? What habits or patterns or taken-for-granted knowledge was I using when I did that?Could I have done (or said) that differently to get a different reaction?What habits or patterns might prevent me from doing it differently in the future?We are often inspired to use critical reflection when there is a crisis or a critical incident, when something has obviously ‘gone wrong’.  There are quite a few tools we can use to help us with this process and these have been included in this set of learning materials (coloured purple)

Working in a group is a constructive and positive thing to do when there are common goals to be achieved. I was recently part of a group activity, where, in class, we were divided into small units and entrusted with the responsibility of familiarizing ourselves with the topic of Australian politics as well as policy are connected with social work.. In this essay I analyze two incidents that arose during group activity and my role as facilitator in them using the Gibb’s cycle of reflective thinking (Gibbs, 1988). By utilizing the Gibbs cycle, I will analyze what exactly happened, how I felt about it, my evaluation and analysis of the incident, after which I conclude with my views on the incident and state what I would do should the concerned incident ever arose again in the future.
Incident 1
At a time when group dynamics were at an all time low, which I discovered using the Tuckman model of group development. I took on the role of group facilitator in the circumstances and managed to lead my group out of the conflict zone using a number of strategies.
Gibbs Cycle Stage 1: What Happened
 At the start of the semester, our class was divided into groups and we were told to work with our group members on the study of the correlation between social work and Australian public policy. The group that I was a part of comprised of members who were not familiar with each other. To break the ice, one person in the group appointed himself as facilitator and decided that he was going to ask us all to introduce ourselves one by one. Once the round of introduction was over, we were asked by the person who had appointed himself as facilitator whether we had any problems with him expressing his personal views on how to go about the group activity. None of us wanted to contradict him at that moment so we went along with what he said.
Gibbs Cycle Stage 2: How I Felt About It
There was a distinct feeling of discomfort that prevailed within the group and within my own self after the facilitator self appointment himself to take charge of the group activity. Soon after, the person who had appointed himself as facilitator began to decide each and every text that we would read to understand the relationship between Australian politics and policy with social work. Several of these texts were quite difficult to comprehend and some in the group including myself started feeling so exasperated that we stopped reading.
Gibbs Cycle Stage 3: Evaluation of the Incident
Bruce Tuckman (1965) says that team formation and group activity are characterized by four important stages. These are forming, storming, norming and performing. The norming stage in particular is the stage when according to Tuckman (1965), “Ingroup feeling and cohesiveness develop, new standards evolve, and new roles are adopted. In the task realm, intimate, personal opinions are expressed”(Tuckman, 1965). This was the stage when things became autocratic as a person appointed himself as facilitator and started deciding for himself what was going to be read and what was not going to be read in order to arrive at an understanding of the relation between social work and Australian public  policy. What was good about this was that all of us were made to engage in some serious scholarly reading for the coursework. What was bad was that himself took it upon himself to decide what was going to be read and what was not, not allowing others I the group to express their opinions as to what they would want to read.
Gibbs Cycle Stage 4: Analysis of the Incident
In my view, because of such autocratic behavior on the part of the facilitator, the performance of the group was something that suffered quite severely (Folger et al., 2017). We were not able to get our group assessment tasks completed in a timely manner. So I decided to take a stand. As argued by Becker (2014), intervention assists in developing a, “just, democratic and cohesive society”. Keeping this in mind, at the start of a group reading session one day, I raised my hand and let the facilitator know that the texts he had selected for our reading were far too difficult for the standards of many in the group and that many of them were not too relevant to the topic either. As soon as I did so, several others put up their hands and expressed their discontentment too. Once everyone had finished saying what they had to say, I suggested arriving at a consensus on exactly which texts we ought to be reading and how quickly.  A final reading list as decided upon after taking in suggestions from other group members. During the next group reading, everyone was able to take part in the group discussions. We were able to execute an excellent group presentation for the final assessment and wrote good individual research papers as well, all because of the collaborative effort that we put in to decide on relevant and necessary texts and constructive group discussions (Kurtz, 2015).
Thus, what I learnt from this group experience is that the democratic leadership style is on that works the best. Group members must be encouraged to give their views and thoughts on the group activity, their opinions need to be considered and work needs to be organized and executed accordingly so that there is harmony in the group and the performance, an excellent one.
Gibbs Cycle Stage 6: What I Would Do If the Situation Ever Arose Again
Given the opportunity again, in a similar situation, I would oppose autocratic leadership like I did in this instance and fight for a democratic way of working. I truly believe that you cannot get things done by imposing your views and opinions on others. As argued by Napoleon Hill (2017), “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed” (Hill & Stone, 2017).
Incident 2
Another incident arose as a part of the same group activity when I realized that group members were not on the same page regarding the relevance of social work organizations and charities in influencing public policy. Here too, I facilitated the group discussion and activity in a way that we decided on a common and final analysis and were able to present this analysis in front of the entire class
Gibbs Cycle Stage 1: What Happened
A minor group dispute had arisen as a part of the same group activity, where, after deciding on  relevant texts for study and analyzing them thoroughly, there was a lack of consensus as to whether social work organizations in Australian cities really were able to impact public policy or not. With reference to the Tuckman Model (1965), the problem could now be witnessed at the performing stage of the group activity. Some group members thought that NGO’s had a strong influence on public policy while others were not convinced.
Gibbs Cycle Stage 2: How I Felt about the Incident
According to Corey et al. (2013), task facilitation group activity is useful as it helps in achieving identified or common goals within a quick period of time, and in an efficient manner. They argue that when group processes, principles and dynamics are applied to achieve identified goals, these are accomplished in a quicker time frame. As specifically stated by Marianne Corey (2013), “One of the great gifts of our profession is that the process of doing what we do allows us to become better human beings” (Corey et al., 2015). So upon this incident taking place, my immediate feeling was that I should  help get the matter resolved through collaborative effort, instead of allowing the dispute to continue.
Gibbs Cycle Stage 3: Evaluation of the Incident
What was good about the lack of consensus was that it created a climate of debate which is always necessary if proper rigorous research work is to be carried out on a subject matter. What was problematic about this lack of consensus was that it was keeping us group members from taking the group activity in forward direction (Willis, 2017).
Gibbs Cycle Stage 4: Analysis
At the time this lack of consensus became evident during the group discussions, I knew for myself what my view on the matter was. I could see from my readings and through other secondary research done by me that NGO’s were indeed influencing public policy. Without imposing my views, I decided to ask those who did not believe in a connection between Australian public policy and the work of social organizations, why they thought so. Their answers were not very convincing and in response to their answers, I gently made them refer to many government reports on public policy where the objectives, aims and outcomes underlined were those that were similar to the recommendations made by social service organizations in Australia for the same (Lount Jr et al., 2014). Since the reports that I referred to were produced by the government, their content could not be denied or questioned by other group members as it was primary data that I was referring to. I carried out a small power point presentation for the benefit of my group to make them understand this co-relation between Australian public policy and the work of social service organizations. I referred to primary data like government reports throughout the presentation and compared these to NGO recommendations, making them understand fully that there was indeed such a correlation (Minahan, 2014).
Gibbs Cycle Stage 5: Conclusion
What I learnt from this particular group experience is that gathering evidence to support your views in front of group members is very important (Corey et al., 2013). If you need to get your point across to take group work forward, you should back up your point with data so that group members are convinced of what you have to say and the goals and objectives of the group work are accomplished without dispute.
Gibbs Cycle Stage 6: What Would I Do if the Situation Arises Again in Future
Matt Minahan (2013) says, “the needs of the one or few must be balanced against the needs of the many, which might drive us to focus on group dynamics and process observation to achieve the goals of the group and organization, without fixating on creating space for “onlys” and other small groups at the expense of the needs of the whole” (Minahan, 2013). Similarly, Brown (2017) states that, “the unique peer relationships aspect of the group setting creates a whole range of potential benefits” (Brown, 2017). Hence, given the opportunity, I would repeat this behavior in a similar situation. I strongly believe that views cannot be imposed and that if something is to be said or suggested, it should be done so using concrete evidence to justify what is being said or suggested. This will help in creating and sustaining a democratic working culture in a group.
Thus, both the group work experiences that I went through reveal that working democratically in a group by putting forward suggestions and recommendations instead of imposing views and dictating to others, backing important arguments with evidence to convince others of the same, are essential if group goals and aims are to be achieved successful and within a stipulated time frame.
Becker, L. (2014). Working with groups. Social Work/Maatskaplike Werk, 43(2).
Brown, A. (2017). Groupwork. Routledge
Corey, M. S., Corey, G., & Corey, C. (2013). Groups: Process and practice. Cengage Learning.
Folger, J., Poole, M. S., & Stutman, R. K. (2017). Working through conflict: Strategies for relationships, groups, and organizations. Routledge
Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Oxford. : Further Education Unit – Oxford Polytechnic.
Hill, N., & Stone, W. C. (2017). Believe and Achieve. Jaico Publishing House.
Kurtz, L. F. (2015). Recovery groups: A guide to creating, leading, and working with groups for addictions and mental health conditions. OUP Us.
Lount Jr, R. B., & Wilk, S. L. (2014). Working harder or hardly working? Posting performance eliminates social loafing and promotes social laboring in workgroups. Management Science, 60(5), 1098-1106.
Minahan, M. (2014). Working with groups in organizations. The NTL handbook of organization development and change, 385-406.
Minahan, M., & Norlin, P. (2013). Edging Toward the Center. OD PRACTITIONER, 45(4)
Tuckman, B. W. (1965). Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological bulletin, 63(6), 384.
Willis, P. (2017). Learning to labour: How working class kids get working class jobs. Routledge

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