Trinity In Twelve Weeks
This week is a chance for you to stop and reflect on how you have been adjusting to College so far. There are lots of new and different challenges in college, and this week you can examine how well you have been meeting them, and find out where and how to get support with any of the areas you are finding more difficult, whether academic, personal or social.
- Reflective practice
- Academic Adjustment
- Personal Adjustment
- Social Adjustment
- Advice & things to help
What is it?
Reflective practice is, in simple terms, critically reflecting on your experiences, what you learned and what you would do differently next time. This focus on what happened, what you learned and what you would do differently is what differentiates reflective practice from general thoughts on an experience.
This week's Checkpoint theme is to encourage you to critically reflect on your first six weeks in college, and how well you have been managing your academic, personal and social adjustment.
Why should you practice it?
Reflective practice will help you to get more out of your learning through college (and afterwards in your career). It helps you to take an active part in your education, rather than just passively absorbing information.
You will also almost certainly be assigned at least one reflective journal as an assessment for a module and already being familiar with the concept and methods will help you to do well on that!
How to practice it
There are a number of different methods you can use, some more structured than others and there is plenty of literature on reflective practice if you are interested in exploring. One model you may find useful is Gibb's Reflective Cycle, illustrated below.
|Description||What happened?||Describe in detail the event you are reflecting on eg. where were you; who else was there; what were you doing; why were you there; what were other people doing; what happened; what was the result|
|Feelings||What were you thinking and feeling?||Try to remember what you were thinking and how you were feeling when the event started; as it progressed; how did other people make you feel; how do you feel about the outcome; what do you think about it now?|
|Evaluation||What was good and bad about the experience?||Try to evaluate what happened; what was good and what was bad about the experience and what did or did not go well.|
|Analysis||What sense can you make of the situation?||Break the event down into its component parts so they can be explored separately. You will need to ask more detailed questions about the answers to the last stage including what went well; what did you do well; what did others do well; what went wrong; how did you or others contribute to this.|
|Conclusion||What else could you have done?||Now that you have detailed evaluation and analysis of the event, you should ask yourself what you could have done differently. This is one of the key learning stages of reflective practice, and it needs the previous stages to have been as honest and detailed as possible. This stage should also give you more insight into your own and other people's behaviour and how they contributed to the outcome of the event.|
|Action plan||If it arose again, what would you do?||During this stage you should think yourself forward into encountering the event againa dn to plan what you would do - would you act differently or would you do the same thing?|
Is your course right for you?
It is difficult to know whether or not a course is right for you before starting college and consequently many students find when they begin that their course is not what they expected. This can be a very difficult realisation, particularly when you have worked so hard to get there, and you may feel responsible for the expectations of family members or teachers as well.
Think about if you agree with the following statements related to your course:
- The course is very different to what I expected
- The material we are covering does not seem relevant
- I am concerned about what I will do when I finish the course
- I often think about changing course
- My friends are studying courses that sound more interesting to me
If you find you strongly agree with most of these statements, it may be that your course is not right for you. If you feel that it may be a wrong fit, you should speak to your Tutor and the Careers Advisory Service about your concerns and they will advise you on what options are open to you.
By now, you will have realised that your workload in college is yours to manage, regardless of your course. This can also be a difficult adjustment to make, and the time management and planning covered in Week 4 as part of study skills can help with that.
Think about if you agree with the following statements about your studies:
- I find learning in college challenging
- I am falling behind in my classes
- I don't know how to find books and information in the Library
- I don't know what kind of books and information I should be using for my assignments
- The pace of learning is challenging
- I struggle to complete my assignments and readings on time
If you find you strongly agree with most of these statements, you may be having difficulty adjusting to independent learning and managing your workload. Happily, there are lots of ways you can learn these skills. Organisation and time management are the first steps and you cand find out more about them on the Study Skills page. If you are struggling more with finding appropriate books and information, you should talk to your Subject Librarian and look at the Library support page for further assistance. You should also look at Student Learning Development's workshop schedule. If you feel you need more specific support, you can contact Student Learning Development for a one-to-one session to help you plan and organise your workload.
It is important to look after your health (both physical and mental) while you are studying. However, particularly if you are finding college hard, it can be one of the first things you let go of. Meeting the challenges you find in college will be easier if you look after your health.
Think about if you agree with the following statements about your health:
- I rarely get a good night's sleep
- I worry about my general health
- I find that I feel anxious frequently
- I have no energy and am tired all the time
- I do not feel I look after my health
- I do not eat a healthy diet
- I do not exercise
If you find you strongly agree with most of these statements, you may need to do more to look after your health. If you feel your physical health has been neglected, Week 5 will give you lots of ways to look after your body and eat well. Taking regular exercise also helps to boost your mental health so try to get involved in a Sports Club, go to the gym in the Sports Centre or just get out for a walk every day. If you think you need to see a GP about your physical health you can make an appointment with College Health.
If your concern is about your mental health, and feelings of anxiety, low mood, and low energy, there are a range of services on campus to help you, formally and informally, depending on who you are most comfortable speaking to:
- Your Tutor
- Your S2S Mentor
- Student Counselling Service
- S2S Peer Support
- The Chaplaincy
- College Health
- The SU Welfare Officer
Managing your money, and making sure you have enough, can be stressful for anyone.
Think about if you agree with the following statements about your finances:
- I never seem to have enough money
- I worry about money frequently
- I have difficulty managing money
- I am worried I do not have enough money to survive
- Money is a major issue for me
If you find you strongly agree with most of these statements, you may be having difficulty managing your finances. The first thing to do is to make a budget. Keep note of all of your monthly expenses (rent, bills, phone, insurance) and track all other money you spend (on a spreadsheet, or in an app) to find out how much you need. You may need a part-time job, but it is recommended that you do not work more than 15 hours a week to avoid it interfering with your study. We're going to talk more about Managing Your Money in Week 9.
If you are in financial need, you should talk to the SU Welfare Officer or the Senior Tutor's Office, which manages the Student Hardship Fund. As in all cases, if you are struggling financially, you can also talk to your Tutor.
It is important not just to engage with the academic material of your course, but also with wider College activities. For the years that you study here (and beyond), you are a part of the College community and what you get from the experience will often depend on what you put in.
Think about if you agree with the following statements:
- I haven't made any friends
- I'm finding it difficult to settle in to college
- I haven't joined any societies or clubs
- I find myself a bit out of place
- I don't feel I've engaged well in college
If you find you strongly agree with most of the statements, you may not be engaging with college as well as you could be. There are plenty of ways to get involved, for all personality-types, from clubs & societies to volunteer work and more. If you're not sure where to start, have a look at the page for Week 3 and maybe have a coffee with your S2S mentor to ask for their advice about the best events to attend and societies to join.