AN EVALUATION REPORT AND LETTER BASED ON EXPERIMENTAL LEARNING PLACEMENT AS A MENTOR TO MENTEES

AN EVALUATION REPORT AND LETTER BASED ON EXPERIMENTAL LEARNING PLACEMENT AS A MENTOR TO MENTEES

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An Evaluation Report and Letter Based On Experimental Learning Placement as a Mentor to Mentees

Background

XYX organization is one of the most successful learning institutions and goes ahead to promote learning through experience. The organization commissioned a mentorship program aimed at enhancing learning to the people through mentors who have had an experience within various fields of study. The programs intend to achieve a learning experience for both mentors and the mentees. This is to be achieved through high cooperation and trust between the mentors and mentees. The program was started in a bid to create a learning experienced based on the experiences of mentor as well as mentees. Further, it required relating learning theory to practice. In this case, the theory used is the Experimental learning theory developed by David Kolb. As a mentor, I was served with the responsibility of helping other learners within the university in their areas of weakness in the course work, exams, and help them learn effective planning. The aim of this evaluation is to show effectiveness of experimental learning theories by connecting them with my experiences as a mentor (Truluck & Courtenay 1999).

The organization required learning to be organized in a specific way that would allow individuals to reach their full potential. The organization, which in this case is XYZ, promotes values that ensure individuals can achieve their maximum potential. It promotes certain values such as creativity, which is facilitated by imagination, innovation and challenges posed to the learners. Quality is the next valuable factor to the organization. It is underpinned by excellence in practical, professional and academic learning. The other value emphasized by the organization is providing all the people involved with a chance to access education that can meet their needs as well as a learning environment that allow great enthusiasm in learning and participating in other programs offered within the (Cherry 2012). Finally, the organization promotes diversity that is that is created through a rich social mix and integrity, which is achieved through honesty as well as openness in working for the publics good.

Method

Several approaches to mentorship were used in order to make it as effective as possible. The mentorship was supposed to focus on experimental learning where the learners both mentor and mentees were supposed to learn out of experience in the interaction. To make it more effective, selective targeting was used instead of having to mentor a whole class. Working with more of the vulnerable students was included as well as working with younger students than the mentor was. Additionally, mentors were required to work with culturally diverse groups. Each mentor would have several different cultures in his or her mentorship group to allow diversity within learning as well as interaction. Liaising between the instructors before a unit of study was undertaken in class was also used in order to prepare the mentor on the topics to be tackled. Additionally, mentors were prepared before the program begun by liaising with the instructors on its purpose as well as what activities were involved during participation. Mentees as well had their similar preparation. To achieve a level of trust and openness between the mentor and mentees, a meeting before the program begun was held.

The tutoring process focused on several subjects such as mathematics, sciences and languages where students were considered to have bigger problem learning. Mentors were supposed to identify areas of weaknesses in the students in learning these subjects and certain topics. This was done through assessing the performance of the students in order to realize areas in which they excel as well as those they did not. A technique that was used in tutoring students was the “Wheel of Life”. The “Wheel of Life” is a tool used for balancing ones life activities. When engaging in some activities, one could forget other activities and regret later. It is therefore important to have a helicopter view that allows one to view how much they engage in each activity as well as the importance of each. This was used in helping the mentees with balancing their activities in order to engage in all in a balanced way considering it looks at each area individually and compares it to the others.

Experiential learning theory

The experimental theory was used in the mentorship since it has the ability to incorporate all the elements the organization in tends to achieve. Experimental learning is the process through which knowledge can be created from transforming experiences. It states that knowledge result from incorporating grasping of information and transformation of the experience in learning (Mainemelis, Richard, Boyatzis and Kolb 2002). It is different from other learning theories such as behavioral and cognitive that focuses on the mental processes while ignoring subjective experiences within a learning environment and process. The experiential approach focuses on how factors such as environment, emotions, and cognition influence the process of learning (Cherry 2012).

The theory proposes four models of learning that include concrete experience, abstract experience, reflective observation and active experimentation. The first two are ways of grasping experience while the other two are ways suggested for transforming experience. Kolb cites that concrete experience provides information that is used as the base upon which to reflect. Out of the reflection, one can assimilate the information to form abstract concepts that are subsequently used for development of new ideas and theories regarding the world. Finally, one can decide to test the new concepts learnt actively in a real life situation. For instance, when learning to drive a car, one could choose several methods (Kolb 1999). One can be through a reflection of what one sees other people doing, another way can be through reading the instructions then setting out for driving test while another could choose to just get behind the wheel and learn from there. Each person may have a preferred model through which to learn. It is up to the individual to identify which model best works for them among the four. For instance, people who love to watch might prefer reflective observation (Berings, Poell & Simons 2005).

The wheel of life and the way it supports experiential learning as mentor

The “Wheel of Life” proved to be quite a useful tool as well as supportive to managing lives of some of the mentees. However, in this study it was not used as a learning theory ut a way of supporting experiential learning theory through helping mentees realize how their activities, which brought about the experience, were balanced.

When life becomes too busy and individuals find it hard to manage their life’s activities as well as organizing their available time, life becomes unbalanced when one cannot balance between the activities. Many of the mentees realized that laying too much effort in one area and forgetting the other could lead to frustration and stress. Thus, the “Wheel of Life” helped the mentees in having a helicopter or bird’s eye view to their activities. The “Wheel of Life” allowed the mentees to bring back a balance to their life by ensuring that each aspect of their life was granted its necessary share of time within a day or within the week considering not all activities could be done everyday. The following is an example of the “Wheel of Life” used by some of the mentees.

http://psychology.about.com/od/educationalpsychology/a/experiential-learning.htm

The “Wheel of Life” allowed many of the mentees to have a visual and vivid representation of the way they led their lives in terms of the activities they performed on a daily basis as well as responsibilities they were supposed to place (Mind Tool 2012). They were able to compare it with the way they would love it to be. This made it possible for them to realize what they needed to do in order to have a better plan in life. They were able to see their lives mapped on a circle, which made it easy to see some of the things they needed to do (Darakhshani 2010).

The mentees were required to use the “Wheel of Life” by starting at stage 1 that involved brainstorming on life’s ideas within numbers 6 to 8. The second stage involved writing down the ideas on the spokes within the wheel (Mind Tool 2012). Stage 3 required them to assess each idea identified on each area, noting the most important in life as well as which would require more attention. The next two stages, 4 and 5 required the mentees to join up the marks within the “Wheel of Life” after a clear assessment and scaling of the dimensions (Mind Tool 2012). Additionally, the two stages required the mentees to think about what level in life they would like to reach. The final stage was about taking action in order to fulfill their desired as stipulated in the “Wheel of Life”.

This achieved quite a good success with the mentees especially in terms of planning their life as well as academic achievement. Several even went ahead to make an extra “Wheel of Life” focused on several dimensions within academic achievement, which helped them to plan their academic life better. The “Wheel of Life” of life also helped the mentees in looking at their life visually and graphically. This allowed quicker planning and made it easy to follow the plan. However, this did not work with all the mentees (Kulananda 2000). Most of those who preferred learning verbally found it hard to use the visual representation. These mentees were not able to learn well with a visual approach, and it required explaining quite a lot. Most of those who found it hard to use the “Wheel of Life” were mainly auditory learners who preferred thinking in words as opposed to visual learners who preferred picture. On the other hand, visual-spatial learners found themselves at a disadvantage as well since they had no strengths in either. However, a balance between visual learning and auditory learning were employed in an effort to fit all the mentees.

Analysis

I felt that the mentoring program was quite good and could go a far way in supporting the students. It is a good way of enhancing the progress of students by sharing from other students whom they can open up to easily as opposed to a class setting. Towards the end of the mentoring program, progress was visible where students managed to participate in class better than before. Additionally, it encouraged students more since they found it interesting to learn from the experience of the mentor. Although some problems occurred with the mentoring for some students especially due to the learning theory used, it achieved great success in most of the targeted areas. Some of the areas that this mentoring achieved success are discussed in the following few paragraphs.

The mentoring was quite successful in terms of helping the mentees realize their goals, current achievements, weak points as well as strong points. Towards the end of the program, the mentees were able to plan their lives without help, plan their activities of the day in a way that would not affect other activities. This made it easier for them so study (IOP Institute of Physics n.d). One of the areas where great success was achieved was increased confidence in the mentees. For some, it was quite hard to ask question within a class setting for fear of what others might think. This had led to some refraining from answering questions in class as well not unless directly asked. While with me, it was easier for them to communicate openly without any fear, which made it easy to find out some of their weaknesses (Crutcher 2006). The mentorship changed the attitude of the mentees towards some of the subjects they undertook some thought that certain subjects were quite hard for them while the truth was otherwise. What was needed was just positive encouragement in order to realize their weak areas. Upon working on the weak areas, many realized that the subject were indeed easy to learn. This changed their attitude towards learning. Additionally, they improved their attitude to working harder considering they realized it bore fruits as opposed to working hard on their own, which was even harder. The success was quite encouraging to the mentees who even cited they would be happy to mentor other learners younger than they were (Bland 2009).

The experimental learning was quite helpful to me as the mentor as well (Moon 2004). Through the experience in my previous studies, I was able to influence the lives of the mentees positively. Additionally, I learn several things from the mentees that may not have been learnt without such a program. I realized some of my strengths as well especially in mathematical problems. Some of the problems that I had not been able to solve before now are solvable. Moreover, I gained a lot of confidence in myself after realizing the success of the mentorship. This was quite encouraging, which made be take things positively as well as value myself (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association 2013). Through this method, I was also able to learn as well through the experience of mentoring others and observing them.

The whole program was a learning experience for me that improved some of my skills such as communication where I learnt more ways of engaging with the mentees that I believe would go a far way in engaging other people. I learnt how to address people of different statures and social background as well as cultural background considering the group was culturally diversified. This made me even more welcoming to diversity than before since some of the stereo types I had before were cleared. Further more, explaining some of the concepts as well as helping other learners in their course work also helped me in understanding and consolidating my own knowledge (CranwelL-Ward, Bossons, & Gover2004).

Conclusion

The mentorship was quite a good program for experiential learning where students utilized different learning methods in order to realize their potential. With the approach used, especially the wheel of life, students learnt how to organize their life with ease through a visual representation. This allowed the mentees to realize some of the mistakes they made during their planning. With better planning, mentees were in a better position to learn. The mentorship had a lot of impact on the mentees academic and life learning since through experience in being mentored allowed them to view life in a positive way. The mentorship changed my life as well, where I was able to realize some of my own weaknesses that I did not know before. Additionally, it gave me the confidence of communicating with people as well as interacting with culturally diverse groups. The experience offered me a great chance of learning as well and I look forward towards mentoring others (Reynolds & Vince 2007).

Feedback letter

From

Name:

Address:

To:

The Mentoring Organization

Dear sir/madam

I am writing this letter to let you know that I am very pleased with allowing me to participate in the mentoring program organized by your organization. it was a good opportunity for all the mentors and mentees to learn together from each other.

The mentoring program was quite a success and allowed the students to progress in their areas of weaknesses as well as realizing their strong points. As a mentor, the program was quite beneficial as it added to my skills of communication and learning through experience. Being a mentor allowed me to learn from other students. Additionally, it allowed me to gain confidence in addressing a group of people as well as interacting with different statures of people. I was pleased with the experience the program offered me.

I highly recommend the continuation of this program since it allows students to perform better and increase their enthusiasm in learning. It allows both mentors and mentees to learn from each other’s experiences, creating a better learning mood. I look forward towards engaging in another program, either as the mentor or as mentee as well.

Thank you for the opportunity and look forward to work with you more in the future.

Yours faithfully

Name:

Bibliography

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2013, The Benefits of Mentoring, viewed March 23, 2013, http://www.asha.org/students/gatheringplace/MentBen/

Berings, M., Poell, R., & Simons, P., 2005 Conceptualizing On-the-Job Learning Styles, Human Resource Development Review, 4, 373-400.

Bland, C. J, 2009 Faculty success through mentoring: a guide for mentors, mentees, and leaders, Lanham, Md, Rowman & Littlefield Education.

Cherry, K, 2012 Experiential Learning, viewed March 23, 2013, http://psychology.about.com/od/educationalpsychology/a/experiential-learning.htm

CranwelL-Ward, J., Bossons, P., & Gover, S., 2004 Mentoring a Henley review of best practice, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, Palgrave Macmillan. http://site.ebrary.com/id/10262196.

Crutcher, B. N., 2006 Cross-cultural mentoring an examination of the perspectives of mentors, Oxford, Ohio, Miami University, http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc%5Fnum=miami1151683574

Darakhshani, R., 2010 The wheel of life, London, Athena Press.

IOP Institute of Physics, n.d., benefits of mentoring, viewed March 23, 2013, http://www.iop.org/careers/mentoring/benefits/page_38864.html

Kolb, D.A., 1999 Experiential Learning Theory: Previous Research and New Directions, Cleveland, Case Western Reserve University.

Kulananda, 2000 The wheel of life. Birmingham, Windhorse.

Mainemelis, C., Richard E. Boyatzis, and Kolb D A., 2002 Learning styles and adaptive flexibility: testing experiential learning theory. Human Resources Abstracts. 37, 325-472

Mind Tool, 2012 The Wheel of Life: Finding Balance in Your Life, viewed March 23, 2013, http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_93.htm

Moon, J. A., 2004 A handbook of reflective and experiential learning: theory and practice, London, RoutledgeFalmer.

Reynolds, M., & Vince, R., 2007, The handbook of experiential learning and management education, Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Truluck, J. E., & Courtenay, B. C, 1999 Learning style preferences among older adults, Educational Gerontology, 25(3), 221-236.