Activity Fiftysix Writing and the learning cycle

Take each of the stages in the learning cycle and write in a different way for each, using an example of practice from your course. In these notes we will assume that it is an interview you had to carry out, but you could adapt this for other activities. Write in the following different ways, taking not more than five to ten minutes for each stage.

1 Experiencing

Write a short account of the event as if you are 'in' the experience: what happened and what it felt like. You will need to write this as 'personal narrative', in the first person using 'I'. Don't try to get everything exactly accurate at this point because you are writing as if you yourself are very close to the event and your feelings are also important. This account could well form a part of a learning journal entry.

2 Reflecting

Next put yourself at a distance from the event. You are still writing as 'I' in the first person, but now you look back on the event and consider, 'What does this experience mean for me now?' At this point you might also be trying to analyse what went on in more detail - for example, by studying transcripts of the interview.

• What was important or particularly relevant about the interview?

• What did it tell you about the person you were interviewing, the situation or the issue?

• What might you have done differently?

3 Generalizing

Writing in the third person, try to think about this event in relation to other ideas and readings. For example, you might write briefly about what two writers have said regarding the social issue that your interview referred to; or maybe about what has been written on the issues associated with conducting such interviews.

• Where does this experience fit?

• What framework can you find to make sense of it?

4 Application and planning

Finally, write some guidance notes to a student on your course about how to conduct interviews, and what issues might arise. This time you will write in the second person, addressing your reader as 'you' and the exercise will further clarify issues about the process for you. You might also want to refer to these notes later for further work.

Now look back at what you have written and (preferably with a friend) consider the following questions:

• What did writing each stage feel like for you, the writer?

• What kind of vocabulary did you use? Did you use a personal or impersonal style?

• Did you use a different kind of 'I' or 'writing self' for each stage?

• What was your sense of the different audience for each piece of writing?

• What have you learnt from doing this exercise?

13.5 A final reflection

Throughout this book we have been asking you to think about how you write and how you learn, and we have stressed the relationship between writing and learning. You learn through the very act of writing, and the more conscious you are of what you are doing when you write, the better you will write and learn. We end with an activity that asks you to write a reflective piece about your experience of reading and making use of this guide to writing at university.

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