As the Semester is coming to an end, I have been thinking about what this class means to me and what my initial thoughts on it were. When I signed up to take a signature project class, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I had no idea what it meant or what the class was going to consist of. When I first arrived to the class, there were only six students and the teacher, this made me beyond nervous because this was the smallest class I have ever been a part of. I thought to myself, “wow, I really need to participate. I can’t just sit back and observe,” which is what I am used to doing. We arranged the desk in a circle formation and began talking. I knew this class was going to be a challenge for me. I was ready for it.
We jumped right into the class and started learning about the habits of mind, which is a way of thinking or way of engaging with the world. There are four habits of mind; purposeful communication, problem-solving, integrated perspective, and self-regulated learning. This class has been very helpful with me learning more about the habits of mind and how I can use them to better me in my everyday life and school life. With every project in this class that we have done throughout this semester, I have thought about how the habits of mind can relate to the project.
As a group, the class started to talk with Professor LeBlanc about what we wanted to achieve this semester. Our section of the course is to study “design” and “what makes good design.” We were put in charge of designing online and face-to-face experience for incoming PSU students. We then met with the enrollment management team and discovered that they use a “journey map.” The journey map is an internal document that is used by the admissions team here at Plymouth. It is their view of what the onboarding process is and what each student should go through if they are interested in PSU. After meeting with the enrollment management team, we got talking as a class about our Plymouth experience and what it was like and how we felt about our own onboarding experiences. After talking as a class for a while, we finally discovered “our problem.”
What is our problem?
We found that the big picture is overwhelming. Prospective students have a lot of information to sift through and finding the most relevant information for them on the PSU website can be very difficult. Many incoming students have this problem, but we decided that we wanted to just focus on prospective first year students that are interested coming to PSU. We chose to focus on first year students, not transfer students or incoming athletes. Another main focus of ours was to work with common experiences, which is the experience that all PSU students go through coming here.
Purposeful Communication is the interaction of texts and people and the creation of new messages. This Habit of Mind has four sign posts; awareness of context, comprehension, purposeful expression, and effective application of strategies for communication. The one sign post that has really stuck with me and pushed me out of my comfort zone this semester was comprehension. Comprehension shows understanding of the basic meaning of the text by paraphrasing or summarizing the information the text communicates. It recognizes that text goes beyond its message; identifies broader questions raised by the text. I am not one to ask questions or talk in a class, even if I don’t understand something, I have always been afraid to ask questions or speak what is on my mind. I had to be aware of the conversations that were happening in class in order to fulfill this sign post. Since I was interested in the class and topic, I paid more attention in class, so I was able to understand. I was able to talk to my peers and share my opinions and ideas. For example, when we first started to learn about the journey map, I was so confused, I had no idea what was going on. I started taking notes, listening more, and asking questions when I didn’t understand something. Another signpost that resonated with me this semester was awareness of context, which recognizes that every message is created and received within a cultural and historical context. For example, I used this sign post when we were creating the language that was used in our Interactive Journey Map. The language used in the Interactive Journey Map had to be simple. We wanted everyone to understand what was being said and the point that was being made, with no question.
Problem Solving was one of the biggest parts of this course, and it is the process of identifying, explaining, and exploring problems and the challenges that come with them, and finding a solution to those problems. The five signposts for problem solving are; problem framing, challenge identification, plan development, decision-making and revision, and valuation of progress. In the course we found “our problem” that we wanted to fix, which can also be known as the signpost, problem framing. We identified the problem, which was that the onboarding process can be overwhelming, after meeting with the enrollment management team. Another signpost that I faced during this course was, evaluating the process, which is recognizing the process and what we wanted to do to have the best outcome. The signpost is relevant to This project because when we made a twine there were several different times, we had to added it, updated, and go over it as a group. We had to continuously edit the twine prototype so that it could be as simple as it could be, in terms of language and usage, for first year incoming students.
Integrated Perspective is a habit of mind characterized by the recognition that individual beliefs, ideas, and values are influenced by personal experience as well as multiple factors.Integrated perspective has for signposts, which are self-awareness, perspective seeking, interconnectedness, and collaboration. All of these signposts are very relevant to this course and project, but I think the most important one was collaboration. Collaboration was very necessary during the course of this project because everyone has their own ideas, but we had to make one big idea out of all of our small ones. This allowed all of us, as a group, to have a conversation every class about what we wanted to do during the class time, and what we wanted to improve, not only about the project, but ourselves as well. If I didn’t understand something that my groupmates were talking about, I would ask a question, which takes us back to the comprehension signpost in the purposeful communication habit of mind. When I was listening to everyone’s ideas, I was thinking what I could add to their ideas or how we could collaborate what we envisioned to make it one.
Self-Regulated Learning encompasses the desire to learn, the ability to set personal goals for learning, and the capacity to engage in a self-monitored learning process. Self-regulated learning has three signposts. Those signposts are responsibility for own learning, engagement in the learning process, and metacognitive awareness. I came into this class knowing my weaknesses, I didn’t realize that I had strengths, or I guess I didn’t really know what they were. I wanted to use this class as a challenge to figure out what my strengths were and to work on my weaknesses. At the beginning of the class, when it first started, I set goals for myself. I wanted to speak up in class, I didn’t want to be that student anymore; the one who didn’t participate and just sat back and listened. I pushed myself. I spoke up in class, I shared my opinions, I asked questions. I did it. I discovered my strengths that I didn’t know I had.
This semester I really learned a lot about myself. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and took charge of what needed to be done in the class. I learned that I just need confidence and then it’s okay to make mistake. I mean hey, we’re only human.My communication skills have improved immensely since starting this class. I also learned a lot about four habits of mind and I now understand how I can use them to continue improving my communication skills. When I signed up for the class, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I knew I was ready for it. It was such an opportunity to work with the people that I worked with and to receive the help that I did. I didn’t know that students could make such an impact on the school. I pushed myself, we pushed ourselves, we did it. We’re making a difference.