Habits of Mind

The year is quickly coming to an end for us. For me, this is always a time of reflection and comprehension of the things that I’ve learned in my class over the last 3 months of classes and experiences that I have had. Something new to me this semester is the idea of the habits of mind. I was doing a study away program last semester when the habits of mind were beginning to be introduced at Plymouth State, so I spent a lot of time learning about the habits of mind and trying to connect what I do in my classes to these habits of mind.

This class has been a catalyst to me learning and understanding how I can implement each of the habits of mind into my personal and professional development. Each habit of mind has had a unique and powerful impact on my learning during this semester. They have made it clear to me what I am learning and how I will be able to bring that knowledge with me into the future and be able to successfully apply it. The signposts that go along with these habits of mind have been useful to me so I am able to recognize the different elements and learning goals associated with each habit of mind.

I am going to take a moment to reflect on each habit of mind and the corresponding signposts that I have practiced during this course and the creation of our journey map project.

Purposeful Communication

I think this is the most important habits of mind. Throughout life, whether it is personal or professional, we are communicating with other people. Everyone needs to understand the different contexts and backgrounds others come from so they are able to accurately communicate with that person.

In this class, we were always discussing how we could word and phrase certain ideas or topics in a way that any high school student or their parents that have English as their first language would be able to understand. We always made specific design decisions that would simplify the process of coming to Plymouth State in order to avoid confusion. This action of making intentional design choices and clearly explaining information that will benefit the user is the “purposeful expression” signpost.

During the creation of one of the many prototypes we had for the journey map, I was responsible for creating the section on on campus living and the housing application. There were many parts to the housing application that could possibly overwhelm someone, and there were also parts that maybe not everyone needed information on. I had it organized in a linear way so to get to a specific section of the housing application, a user would have to click through each section until they got where they needed to be. Cathie had mentioned this issue to me during one of our class meetings, and it was something that I didn’t think about before creating my section.

Earlier in this class period, we had created the main menu for the project. I had decided that the solution to this problem was to create a separate menu for the housing application. I had done this by listing each section of the housing application on a separate passage in Twine where the user would be able to select which section they want to read about and be able to simply jump to that section without clicking through each passage. Although I made this change, I decided to keep the original linear organization as another way to get through the housing application information, because I knew that not every user would want to be jumping around and some would want a linear path of what is needed to be done.

Making this decision to create a housing application menu is an example of the purposeful communication sign post, “purposeful expression” because I organized and presented information to the users in a way that is clear and simple for anyone to understand so they are able to achieve what they are trying to learn through reading this section of the journey map. I also gave two different ways to get through this passage in the journey map because I know that not everyone is going to want to do one way or the other and people should have the choice to do it how they see best fit for them.

Problem Solving

Aside from the overarching problem our class was solving (simplifying the overwhelming and confusing PSU website for prospective and incoming students), other problems arose while we were creating our design solution for this problem. One problem we found was that the program we used to create our version of the journey map, Twine, is not simultaneously collaborative (such as how Google Docs is). This was a problem because when someone completed their section(s) of the journey map, we would have to send it to one person who would have then compile each section into one file.

While we were working on one of the last versions of the Journey Map, I had a solution around the lack of collaboration offered in Twine. What this idea was to have the person with the first section of the Journey Map do their work in a file that they would then send to the person who’s section was next. We would continue doing that, until the last person. The person with the final section of the journey Map would send it to another class member who would review each passage of errors and then upload it to our website.

I knew that there were going to be issues with this plan. One of the biggest was going to be relying on others in the class to do their work in a timely manner so the next person would have time to edit their section of the Journey Map and keep the file moving along to each class member. I addressed this issue during class, and we had talked about this. We had reassured one another that we would get the work done and onto the next person in appropriate time frames so there wouldn’t be one person that was stressed about getting their section done in time for class.

As far as I am aware, we didn’t run into this problem of time crunches during this process of collaborating.

“Plan development” is one of the Problem Solving signposts. Through this solution to a small problem we happened upon, I had examined the situation and thought about how we could possibly overcome this issue and simplify the process for our group. Through suggesting this plan to the class, we were able to overcome the challenge of not being able to work on one Twine file within the program itself. Even though there were possible consequences to this idea, we discussed how we would avoid these implications and we successfully avoided them.

Integrated Perspective

This habit of mind played a big role in our project. Not only did we have to look at everything we looked at on the website and everything we created from the perspective of a prospective student, we also needed to see things from one another’s perspective. None of us have had the same college experience, so we all have different views on things and different capabilities, which is where the sign post “perspective seeking” comes into play.

A major thing that differed between me and the other members working on this project is that I am the only one who is not an athlete at Plymouth State. I’m sure that they have made very different experiences making and keeping friends than I have. I might have more free time than they do between practice, games and traveling. They probably even had a recruiter talking with them while they were still in high school. So, it’s safe to say that my experiences here at Plymouth State, from applying and getting accepted to Plymouth State to scheduling, to socialization, is very different from the rest of the groups.

This isn’t a bad thing. I used this to our advantage to benefit the project. I spent a lot of time trying to understand their lives here at Plymouth State as student athletes. And I also spent a lot of time talking and giving them my perspective of the process to come to Plymouth State as a non-student athlete. We used each other to understand the different group of prospective students (student athletes vs non-student athletes) so we were all able to put ourselves in their shoes so we could create this project.

Self Regulated Learning

Admittedly, I have had the hardest time with this habit of mind. It took me some time to really understand what self regulated learning really is, and it took me even longer to be practicing this habit of mind while in and out of this class. As the class progressed, I realized that this project and the side projects we were working on are not going to get done unless extra work and more learning is put into them.

I think this change occurred when we were working on one of the prototypes and I was assigned to creating the section on submitting test scores to Plymouth State. This was something that I did not do when I was coming to Plymouth, so I had no first hand experience with this subject. I was pretty stressed about having to write this piece of the Journey Map.

At first I didn’t know where to start. I began by looking at the Plymouth State website, but there was little to no information on this subject since PSU doesn’t require scores. Next, I found the College Board website, reading their process for submitting test scores to colleges and their policies. After reading through the college board website, I was finding it easier to look for this information and being able to retain what the websites I found were saying.

“Engagement in the learning process”, one of the three signposts of the self regulated learning habit of mind, was something that I found myself doing naturally after this encounter with learning and applying what I learned submitting test scores to Plymouth State. When I was assigned different tasks, I would be taking risks and trying to learn new things that I didn’t know before. As part of our poster for the Student Showcase in a few weeks, I decided to create a diagram of the whole process we went through to create our Journey Map.

I had to learn a new program to create this diagram, I had to phrase what we had done in simple terms anyone could understand, and I had to make it easy to follow. In the end when I had shown my classmates what I had created, it was decided that it looked really good, but there was too much information. I had to recreate the diagram with less information, but I didn’t mind doing that. I enjoyed learning a new skill that I now have for another project or assignment I might have in the future, and I think that is the most beneficial aspect of self regulated learning.

One thought on “Habits of Mind”

  1. Congrats to you for reflecting along the way. Sometimes, we don’t find the time to do the reflective piece, which is an important step in identifying truly what we have learned and how we might apply it in the future.

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