Academic Skills: Research, Organisation, Collaboration

Throughout the past years and taking different classes, I was able to develop some interdisciplinary academic skills, such as I learned based on research, organisation and collaboration.


An improvement in researching

I developed an ability to research efficiently and more effectively, for example by researching for more information out of curiosity or for posters, presentations and assessments asked for in class. In my HL psychology class, independent research is an essential part of our learning, as we search on the internet for past research studies to strengthen arguments and to apply our learned content. An example of this is the research a classmate and I did on Ledoux’s Theory of Emotion, which can be seen on the left, which demonstrates how we researched the study conducted in 1999 as well as information about the theory itself in order to promote an understanding of what it is and how emotion may affect cognitive processes in humans. Things that I learned about researching in this class are closely connected to the relevance of the information and the sources. When searching for research studies one can use to strengthen arguments, one has to make sure that the studies are approved by officials, and that there is enough detailed information on the study to really consolidate what I’m trying to prove with this study. In that way, digging deeper into the internet to really find what I need, as well as validating information in terms of its relevance and credibility are key to researching successfully in this class, and over the past year I feel like I have strongly improved that.

Another class in which researching plays an important role is my biology class, as we often are asked to research how biological processes function exactly and why they’re necessary to our survival. An example of this would be our unit of DNA replication, where we learned about histones and the structure of DNA independently. Key to researching successfully in this field is presenting the information in a concise and comprehensive way. Often times the information you find on the internet about biological processes is either incredibly simplified, or so detailed that it is hard to understand. In that way, looking at different sources to get an in depth understanding and then combining information from different sources to create concise posters or diagrams for others to understand, is incredibly useful. Furthermore, I learned of the importance of citing the information, so that other classmates are able to go back and look for themselves, and that I myself am able to ensure the credibility and accurateness of the information.


A deeper awareness of the importance of collaboration

I developed a more in depth awareness of the importance of collaboration, as I recognised limitations of my own perspective in different classes. Asking others for their opinions and discussing ideas, concepts and questions with other people, so essentially collaboration, extends the variety of ideas and perspectives and allows for a more diverse and perhaps accurate answer and interpretation. I became aware of the importance of collaboration especially in the two classes English Literature and Theory of Knowledge (TOK), as the answers and ideas about specific stimuli often stays quite one sided and not very rewarding without collaborating and discussing with others. In English we recently investigated the poet Pablo Neruda, and looked at some of his poems such as the “Ode to Socks”. The more I talked to other people about this poem, the richer became my understanding of what Neruda might have tried to express with this poem, as I learned about different ways one can interpret the imagery and diction he used. Other people had different impressions of the mood and tone created, and were able to justify that directly on the poem, which enabled me to understand where they were coming from and reconsider how I had interpreted the mood and tone before. Having learned to collaborate effectively with my classmates, for instance asking specific questions, asking them why they they have specific impressions or interpretations, incredibly enriched my experience in this English class and my understanding of Neruda’s poetry. In that way, I really enjoy discussions about poetry and literary questions, and enjoy hearing about different ideas and perspectives.

Another class in which my understanding of the importance of collaboration strongly improved over the past year is TOK. For instance we recently talked about ethics and investigated ethical dilemmas and how to handle situations from different ethical standpoints and perspectives. This can be seen on the picture I attached above, which displays what my group discussed when thinking about euthanasia in Australia. The more I talked to my classmates, the more I understood how different people can think completely different about situations, as they base their knowledge and reasoning on different foundations and ethical principles. Some of my classmates experienced a quite different religious education and stem from different cultures and countries, which shape their reasoning and ethical decision-making. Without collaboration and discussions, I think it is impossible to understand and comprehend each other, as well as learn and grow as individuals. I can learn from others by talking to them and understanding where they’re coming from, as this gives me the chance to critically think about my perspective and my decisions. Throughout the last year I strongly learned to appreciate collaboration in TOK, as well as learn how to collaborate more effectively and in ways that are enjoyable, without leading to conflict or stubbornness.

Becoming more and more organised

I developed this academic skill throughout the last year in particular, for instance leading up to big tests and the exams at the end of the year. I started writing to-do lists in order to stay on top of my work and to keep track of what I have to do when. Hence prioritising and organising my time well, was something I strongly improved with last year as I wanted to perform as well as possible in these tests and in the exams. One subject in which I learned to appreciate good organisation skills the most is the subject economics, as I realised that organising thoughts and arguments in the most effective ways is crucial to say everything in a comprehensive way.

This was especially challenging when writing up the Internal Assessments, as the short word limit required me to be concise and comprehensive at the same time, while trying to include everything I wanted to say. In that way, I learned to organise my ideas and reasons and prioritise them according to relevance, urgency and importance, as well as in economics the probability of this situation occurring. In another class I strongly learned about organisation in a way that I learned to appreciate organised and complete notes. In my biology class, the content we learn is very detailed and having access to different learning materials is only sometimes an advantage. The other times, it is very time consuming to check whether I have this information in my notes or not, and this is exactly why I learned to appreciate organisation so much. Leading up to tests and the exam I got used to a specific study routine, in which I would have several different study material open at the same time and then I would take notes in a very organised and detailed way, so that I could remember all necessary details in a coherent way. I think being aware of when to do that, hence organising the time it will take to make these notes, and then being aware of how to organise ideas and information on paper, were the two skills that really solidified my good grade in Biology. In that way, I learned to appreciate as well as to improve my organisation skills over the past year, and am very thankful as I’m sure this will help me in the future.

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