Sunday, 7 February 2016

Becoming a student again

Back in September I signed up to be part of the first cohort to study for the newly launched Doctoral Business Administration degree at the University of Winchester. It's a part time degree program that should take me somewhere between 4 and 7 years to complete.  The first 2 years consist of 6 taught modules ( 1 per term) that are designed to build skills and insights that will then equip us to complete our thesis.  We are a small but diverse group of people drawn from of a wide range of job roles and experiences which makes for some great discussions when we are together.

With the assignment for the first module - a critical ( that's critical as in looking at decisions made and reasons for them and not to be confused with criticising ) review of my professional development and a future development plan - submitted it seemed like a good time to look back at what has happened so far.

Since completing my MBA back in the mid 90s I've always harboured the thought that it would be good to do some further study and have looked at various programs from other universities. A couple of things that drew me to this one were the structure of the program, convenience of the location, and my existing contact with some of the faculty. It was still a major decision to make as the time and money required are significant but one that felt right.

A term in and I have no regrets, yes finding the time to fit it in alongside everything else I do is, and will remain, very tough but it's great to be a student again. All learning changes you and I've certainly noticed already that the extensive reading I'm now doing is filtering into my discussions with people both at work and beyond. I've also had the joy of renewing my Bodleian card and returning to some of Oxford's libraries and indeed venturing in to some that I had not visited before - Mathematicians not having much call to visit the Social Sciences Library.

Having online access to journals is terrific but there is still something very satisfying about summoning old copies from the stacks and joining the hushed studious environment of one of the reading rooms to work your way through them.

The first module was always going to be the one where I started to get a feel for what was required so in numbers here is how it panned out...

I read 16 books on a range of topics including Critical Reflection and many aspects of learning and development

in addition I've skimmed or read parts of a further 6 books and consumed around 50 academic journal articles.  When it came to writing the 5,000 (+/- 10%) word assignment one of my biggest challenges was letting go of some interesting ideas I'd read about, taken notes on and wanted to include but didn't fit inside the word count ( Reber's work on Implicit learning and Tacit Knowledge being just one example).

For the next module I need to pin down what my area of research will be for the next few years as I pursue the DBA.  More details to come as I work that out...