Being in a non-English speaking country, obtaining relevant books and other resource materials was somehow challenging. I learned to utilize the internet to get books and journal articles from electronic libraries and databases. I also had to subscribe to various journals so that I could get updated news about the course since I realized that criminology is a dynamic topic and it requires one to get case studies and briefs.
After the onset of the course, I had to develop effective study habits so that I could organize my time while staying on top of my work. I realized that in order to succeed, I had to make the right decisions about managing my time and resources. I had to give my studies the priority they deserve and I did not let friends or family dictate to me on what aspects of my life were more important than others.
My concentration and grasping ability is at its peak during the morning hours, at quiet and cool surroundings which do not offer any distraction. I engaged in discussions and debates surrounding the course material since I know getting the perspective of my fellow students and their contributions on the points I might have missed is very important.
Concerning my assignments, I always make sure I have completed them on time and I review them before every class. I also co-relate assignment content and what is in my notes to ensure that I have completed them satisfactorily. I rely on my notes for this because they are very comprehensive since I review and update them after every class; usually including paraphrasing content in my own words and including examples.
These study strategies I adopted during the semester are very effective, and after cross-checking with my fellow students and a collection of study guides available in the internet, I found out that they are still very relevant. Of course, I know there will always be ways of improving them as challenges mount. For example, I found out that I had actually misunderstood some concepts and ideas I had assumed I fully understood, so I need to liaise with my professor and study group more.
When I started this course, I did not have a clear understanding of what was really expected of me. I did not know if what I was doing was right or wrong, so I had to get the help of my fellow students, friends who had already graduated from the course and my professor to help me learn how to express my points and ideas. I always want to feel that I am living up to expectation, so I always seek feedback to help me identify areas I can improve on.
I have formed a consistent effort to request my colleagues and supervisors so that I can refine my perspective regarding key concepts and ideas. In my attempt to be an all-rounder, I specify the kind of feedback I need from my colleagues, professors and supervisors at work. I do not just ask for a critique of the quality and quantity of effort I put in my studies or my work, but I also seek to find out other peoples perception of how effective or ineffective my interaction with other people and the system is. I also gave some of my essays to friends and colleagues to read; and used their criticism and opinions to improve on my essay writing skills.
I feel that I can use the feedback I obtain regarding my study and work strategies and quality to improve by developing plans of action based on it on a regular basis. Feedback is effective only if it is involved in the review of strengths and weaknesses so that the actions taken can be specifically tailored to build on my strengths and work on my weaknesses.
It is however important to note that feedback can only be genuine if the seeker also reciprocates by giving feedback to the people he or she seeks opinion from. Even though some people may not like getting feedback on their performance especially if it is negative, I try as much as possible to reciprocate by giving genuine feedback to those willing to acknowledge it so that I can receive an equal measure in return.
I would be honest if I say that this course has been an eye opener for me. Through planning my time to fulfill course requirements like attending to classes and completing my assignments in time, I have learnt to be more organized not only in class but in other spheres of my life. The need for efficiency made me engage in research in an attempt to identify better, faster and more effective reading styles, and I perfected these on this course. I have attained a better reading speed and I have become better in both written and spoken English.
Through research and preparation for writing my essays, I have improved on my writing skills a great deal. I have learnt several referencing styles and I could even take a chance at professional writing as of now. Criminology requires articulate presentation of ideas, facts and arguments; and this course has increased my analytical skills and the depth of my thinking.
In the past, I have sort of been what social scientists would call a right brain thinker. To me, an occurrence or a phenomenon was true or false, black or white. But the course has taught me to think from different perspectives. This has been a big change for me bearing in mind that I have been quite opinioned about criminology issues; but I have learned to pay attention and get many sides to any event.
Starting university has had an enormous impact on my academic, personal and work life as well. Being a student and working at the same time is a challenge for many people. I work and study; and since I realize that both are important to my life, I dont let one take the time of the other. I do not take time off to study or skip classes to work or because I worked late; but I do take some hours off to catch up on my assignments and to engage in extracurricular activities to refresh my faculties and also to write my essay.
As far as my private life is concerned, my academic engagements have made it necessary to study on most nights and weekends; but the experience has been good since I have gained the ability to see things from an academic and professional angle and reason likewise.
This course has definitely induced a lot of changes in me. For starters, I have learned to be flexible to divergent thoughts and ideas, and since I have learned so much in the process, I have found out that some of the opinions I hold regarding other people and occurrences are not necessarily justified. With an increase in knowledge comes a change in heart, and the new ideas, concepts and facts I have learned have changed my opinion and attitude a great deal.
Since the beginning of this course, I have continually learned that there is so much information out there for me to absorb and apply in my essays, arguments and in my professional life. Information for real has the capacity to change someones beliefs. The more I am challenged, the more I have become aware of the need and the virtue of being able to tolerate the values, beliefs and attitudes of other people.
By virtue of the amount of literature I have had to cover, my attitude towards work has changed. Work, be it academic or professional, is no longer an obligation to me, but an opportunity to improve my vistas of knowledge and my capacity to interact with people, information and real life circumstances. In other words, the course has given me an opportunity to grow in character as a person.
Through the study of moral values as they apply in criminology and psychology, I have learned that morality is a very personal issue; and that not a single person can rationally claim to have more superior values as compared to others. In as such, my attitude to people has changed a lot, and I am no longer quick to judge the actions of others without first establishing the motives behind their actions.
Creative and research and essay writing has taught me the importance of respecting intellectual property. I have come across so much written material in this course; materials which have increased my knowledge base in ways I could not have imagined. It is a matter of fact that people somewhere took their time to do research, derive facts and write them down plus their relationship to and application in real life situations. It is not only responsible but also ethical therefore to respect their rights to their work by responsibly using these works.
Responsible use of literary material is achieved by avoiding plagiarism. This entails proper use of resources and the application of correct referencing techniques to cite the contribution of existing literature in any produced essays or research papers. I had never done any referencing before, but the resources providing guidelines for referencing available at the university website helped me a lot in learning how to responsibly utilize literary materials without abusing intellectual property.
As I pointed out earlier, I did not know what was expected of me before actually joining this course. As the course progressed, I came to realize that it is actually a very interesting course. Even though it is quite challenging in terms of difficulty in comprehending some of the concepts taught, I do not regret taking it.
The course has made me understand people better and have valuable insight on the motivations people have while committing some of the activities they commit. As I said earlier, I had to work as I undertook this course. The responsibilities could have been overwhelming for most people and their families, but the experience brought me closer to my wife who supported me throughout the duration of the course and has still continued to support me.
In terms of my professional experience, the course has opened up my mind and conscience. I have met a lot of interesting people and the experience has made me a better communicator, improving the relationship between me and my work colleagues. I am a very ambitious person and I want to continue growing professionally, that is why I decided to further my education in the first place. My ambition sometimes brings me at odds with my colleagues, but I have known how to effectively handle their aggressions. I hope that these skills are going to push me up the professional ladder, even though this is going to take some time considering the system of my place of work.