There are many steps a student or employee can take to ensure success in any endeavor they may choose to undertake. Whether you are a first-time student or someone interested in getting ahead at work, finding your personal learning style is a great place to begin. Then you have a starting off point for using your strengths and improving weaknesses. My personal learning styles, feeling and doing, indicate that I learn best when I care about what I’m learning, and when it applies to my life, and by physically doing something, like a lab which is usually very hands-on. Because getting my degree in order to improve my future is very important to me, caring about what I’m learning, no matter the subject, is quite easy. It will also apply to my life after college, so the hands-on aspect is met in that way, in that I can see how the subjects might be used in my future. Another important step for success is to set small goals. This step allows for easy opportunities to do well while making progress towards the larger “main” goal. Finding and using all available tools is essential for success, as is being ethical; doing the best work possible will ensure the best results. With long term goals such as ‘get a degree’ or ‘get a promotion a raise or both’, the amount of work can be daunting.
Breaking those into smaller goals makes each step much easier to obtain. Those many small accomplishments can increase self-esteem, giving the student or employee a good sense of their ability to get things done, rather than faltering because they feel overwhelmed when looking at the big picture. In my situation, my long term goals are to graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree, and then start a career that will allow me to take care of my family if needed. These are connected, and looking at them in the long term is very stressful, and overwhelming. Instead, I’m just focusing on the class I’m in at the time. If I can do well in my Foundations class, then I’ll start my next session on a high note, feeling like I’m already on the right path, and already succeeding. I haven’t set any small goals for my future career yet. That’s mostly because I’ve only just started looking at the details of where I might want to work. I don’t think I’ll be sure what exactly I want to do until closer to graduation, and I’m sure I won’t know where until I know better “what”. Something I learned in this first class is that there is an easy to follow format for writing and that it can be used in many formats and situations. ”It can be referred to as the “five paragraph essay” and consists of a thesis, three to five supporting paragraphs and a conclusion.” (Halusska, 2006)
Learning about this basic formula was a bit of an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me. It gives a very basic way to write papers for just about any occasion that is easy to remember, and to follow. In any class where a paper is required, such as a book summary, lab results, or a short essay, this format can be applied. It also works for presentations, proposals or other professional writing settings. Using all of the resources available is a great way to ensure success. Knowing what those resources are, and how to find them is important as well. In the setting of the University of Phoenix, there are more tools for success than any college experience that I’ve had before.
The University Library is so much more than it seems. When I hear “library,” I think ” big building with stacks and stacks of books for all interests”. The online library has that, but it also has tools like the Center for Writing Excellence (CWE), and the Center for Math Excellent (CME). I haven’t used the CME yet. I’m fairly sure it will come into play in my next class. The CWE, however, has been an essential part of my current class. It has tutorials, live help, a grammar checker, a plagiarism checker, a reference creating tool, and so much more. Another tool for success that I was introduced to recently is the ELI or Ethical Lens Inventory.
Your ethical lens is your window to the world for decision making. There are several different perspectives to consider when trying to make an ethical decision, including what’s best for the community (or whatever the group might be), versus what’s best for yourself. In a professional setting, an employee’s position (whether they are management or staff) might make a difference in how they perceive a problem, and how they come to a solution. A manager might have the good of the company in mind while a staff member is likely more concerned with his or herself. McNutt, and Batho (2005) say, for example, “Values are intimately connected with moral and ethical codes, and determine what people think ought to be done. The value set is composed of rights and duties. The distinction is reasonably straightforward. For the most part, rights and duties are the opposite ends of a given spectrum.
If management [or] an employer have a duty to ensure reasonable standards of health and safety for workers, workers have a right to expect it. If it is believed or if it has become a norm that workers have a right to a minimum wage, then management as employers have a duty to pay it.” In a school setting your ELI and critical thinking come into play in other ways. It is very important to cite one’s sources when using anything other than your original thoughts in a paper. Anything less is plagiarism. This includes self-plagiarism, using your own previous work without citing that, unintentional plagiarism, not properly citing your source in a paraphrase or quote, and deliberately cutting and pasting someone else’s work and claiming it as your own. Plagiarism doesn’t just happen school, of course. Publishers see this quite often. The good news is that it’s becoming much more difficult to get away with using someone else’s work. A great example of plagiarism in a professional setting comes from Micron. They had to retract an article because they discovered that a micrograph was doctored with Photoshop. (Cox, Braet, Egerton 2014).
Critical thinking, or looking at a situation in a clear, rational yet open-minded way, is very important no matter your situation. A good example of using critical thinking is when you must determine if a source you want to use is credible. You must consider many factors when deciding on the source. This is one major downside of using the internet for research. A lot of sources might be biased, or not well researched. When using outside sources it’s a good idea to check that there are references given, and also to check those references. It’s also important to look at the URL of the resource. Dot Coms are often business oriented, and less reliable due to advertising involvement. Some good websites might be college pages or non-profit organizations, with authors who are authorities in the field they’re discussing. It is never a good idea to use sites like Wikipedia. They are authored by the general public, and while some articles are well documented, the majority are not.
Thinking critically can be a challenge, but it is also a learned skill, which means there are several ways to improve your ability. Knowing that you’re going to have to make a decision is the first step and includes knowing what your options are. It also means acknowledging that when you have made a choice, your other options are no longer viable. You’ve chosen a path, and must move forward. Before you can do that, however, you must define your priorities. What is the desired outcome? The decision you make should focus on that, and move you toward some goal.
If it looks like there are no good solutions, the best option might be to wait to make any decisions. Often other options will present themselves. Your situation might change, or you might think if something you hadn’t considered before. (Ellis & Toft, 2014) All of these tools combine and work together to enhance your ability to meet your goals. They can be applied separately or together to make good choices, reach your goals, professional or academic, and succeed at life. Whether you’re a student or a professional, using ethics, critical thinking, formulaic writing, will lead to positive outcomes.
Halusska, J. C. (2006, Dec). In Defense of the Formula Essay. Academic Questions, 20(1), 46-55.
McNutt, P. A., & Batho, C. A. (2005). Code of ethics and employee governance. International Journal of Social Economics, 32(8), 656 – 666.
Cox, G., Braet, F., & Egerton, R. (2014, Feb). Ethics Issues. Elsevier, Micron 61(iv).
Ellis, D., & Toft, D. (2014). Becoming a Master Student (15th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning. p.221