Reflective Account of a Literature Search
Based on Gibbs reflective cycle The second part of my assignment was to conduct a literature search, and describe how I went about it. Week 3 of my first module Study Skills And Lifelong Learning, comprised of a session on literature searching. We were shown the university database Discovery, and Heather our course leader proceeded to explain, step by step how we can access this, on campus or from any location off campus. Discovery is a facility that allows you to search for books and journals from numerous Learning Information Services (LIS).
Because the first part of my assignment was to write an essay on reflection, I used key words relevant to this topic. First of all I typed in the word reflection, but that gave me 19,065 hits. Heather advised us to be more specialised in our search, by using words that would narrow it down. I then decided to put in reflective practise in nursing, this made a huge difference and after narrowing it down even more, I ended up with 12 hits relevant to what I wanted. I felt it took me a lot longer than everyone else to get used to the system, and because the class was quite noisy, at times i was unable to hear what Heather was saying.
I did ask another student to explain certain things to me, but I felt I was distracting them from their own studies. By the end of the session I felt no clearer about doing a literature search on my own. Even though I had narrowed my search down to 12 hits, this had happened with help from another student, and I didn’t feel confident enough to know how to go about it on my own. I felt confused and overwhelmed, but I was too embarrassed to stay behind and ask for more help. Fortunately we had all been given a hand-out as well, to enable us to keep practising in our own time.
When I got home I looked through the booklet, and found after reading it several times it began to sink in, I got straight back on the computer and accessed the search engine immediately. After numerous attempts, I found it was beginning to make sense, the stress and tension I felt earlier that day was beginning to subside. I decided I needed more help with literature searching, as it is an important study skill, and one that I will need to improve, and be competent at, for the next two years and beyond. I found the telephone number, for the library services department at the hospital where I work.
I phoned them straight away and spoke to the head librarian. He advised me to undertake, two 1hour sessions on accessing databases I booked myself on the course for the following week. I felt I had done something constructive, and that made me feel more positive. I had asked for help instead of burrowing my head in the sand, which is how I usually react when things become more challenging. As a mature student, studying hasn’t come easy to me, as I’m sure it hasn’t to most of the other mature students. I didn’t realise prior to starting the foundation degree, how much studying it actually involved.
I feel overwhelmed most of the time, learning new study skills like literature searching, referencing, academic writing and numerous others, are not things I’ve ever had to contend with before. I realise I need all these skills and many more, to succeed on this course. The only way I am going to improve, is by accessing all the help that is available, and there is a lot of help, on the university campus alone. By nature I am not a confident, outgoing person, and I feel this negative trait hinders me a lot of the time. When I think back to the session on literature searching, I could have made things a lot easier for myself.
I should have sat at the front, or nearer the front, so I could have heard what Heather was saying. If I’d asked questions when I was unsure of something, I wouldn’t have fallen behind, but instead I kept quiet, and didn’t interact with the class, as I should have done. I try to keep myself motivated, by surrounding myself with books relevant to helping me improve my computer skills. Unfortunately I then find myself reading for hours on end, but taking in very little. When I did the Guide To Learning Styles (VARK) questionnaire on line, the results indicated I was a kinaesthetic learner.
This means I learn better from practise or simulation, therefore watching a demonstration, or a video, would be of more benefit to me, than reading a book over and over again. This is especially true in this instance, knowing my computer skills were weak; I should have enrolled on a relevant course, prior to commencing the foundation degree. This would have given me, grounding in the basic skills required, and allowed me to improve them gradually over time. Instead I have become wary and even fearful, of information technology, to such a degree I find myself running away from it.
As I reflect back on this module, my biggest barrier to future learning is myself. In order to improve and succeed at becoming an assistant practitioner, I must face my fears and embrace them. I will ask for help, as and when I need it. I will utilise the resources on web CT, and use anything that can help me achieve these goals, every learning opportunity that will benefit me. I will look into addressing my confidence issues, and what courses are available to improve these. I must learn not to be intimidated by other students, if I need to ask for help.
I know that as my confidence grows, my knowledge and education will advance. Although I am not competent when using the computer, I will endeavour to improve this. As for literature searching, I’m sure once I’ve been shown by the librarian several times how to do it, I will find the whole process less daunting. All these study skills and others that I have been shown in this module, will I’m sure, become second nature to me as I progress through university. In summing up that day on literature searching, things didn’t go well from the beginning.
I was already apprehensive to begin with, just the idea of sitting at a computer, in a room full of other students, made me feel anxious and uncomfortable. I should have sat near the front, and interacted more in the class, by asking questions. Looking back I’ve learnt a lot, mostly about myself. I need to develop and improve my IT skills , this is my major stumbling block, and in order to learn and develop, I must use the computer effectively. I now see the internet as my most valuable asset, and therefore I feel less stressed about my future learning needs.