Brainstorming Take 1: Identifying and Organizing Key Learning Experiences

Adapted from Peet, M. R & Fenton, S. M. (2011). Training resources for the integrative knowledge portfolio process and generative knowledge interviewing. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan.

The purpose of this exercise is to take a quick pass at identifying 10-15 learning experiences, and then to think about how you might group them using the Big 10. Last week, you explored one story of a memorable learning experience. This exercise gives you another way of recalling and starting to reflect upon your learning experiences.

Download the Identifying and Organizing Key Learning Experiences worksheet to complete the following activity.

Step 1: In the first column of the table on the worksheet, provide a brief description of as many key learning experiences as you can think of. Include experiences from across your life, including at work, school, and in your community, family, and social networks.

Here are some prompts to help you think of possible experiences:

  1. A time when you did something that made you feel especially proud
  2. A situation when you advocated for yourself and/or others
  3. An experience you had in working with other people to achieve something
  4. An example of when you used communication tools
  5. A time when you thought “outside the box”
  6. A time when you had to make a difficult decision
  7. A time when you identified an injustice, prejudice, or inequity
  8. A time you worked to solve a problem
  9. A time you faced a challenge or conflict in the workplace or in an organization you’re involved with

Step 2: Once you have listed as many learning experiences as you can think of, move to the second column and write down a sentence or phrase that captures the “essence” of what you learned at the time of the experience, and then add another few words on why it is important to you now. The goal here is to write down enough so that when you look back at this in a few weeks or even a few months, you will remember what you were thinking.

Step 3: Once you have completed step 2 for each learning experience, move to the third column. In that column, write down the Big 10 skill or skills (can be more than one) that you think you demonstrated or developed through this experience.

As a reminder, the Big 10 are:

  1. Accountability
  2. Advocacy
  3. Collaboration
  4. Communication
  5. Creativity
  6. Critical Thinking
  7. Intercultural Engagement
  8. Problem Solving
  9. Reflection
  10. Resilience

Step 4: Share with the group one learning experience and get their feedback on which Big 10(s) they connect to this experience.

Brainstorming Big 10 Learning Experiences Take 2: Deduction

In the previous activity, you started with learning experiences and then classified them by the Big 10 to which they seemed to apply. In this activity, you are going to try brainstorming the other way around by starting with how College Unbound defines the elements or criteria for each Big 10 and then thinking of relevant experiences when you have developed and/or demonstrated these elements. These activities are based upon two different ways of thinking about something. In the previous activity, you started with the specifics of your life experiences and then connected them to the Big 10. Reasoning like this, in which you move from specifics to some generalization is called induction. In this activity, you are starting with the general statements for each Big 10 element, and then you are trying to think of specific examples of these generalized skills in your life. Reasoning like this, in which you move from the general to specific is called deduction. Pairing these methods allows you to come at the challenge of surfacing your tacit knowledge from two different angles.

Dig Deeper: This is a very brief overview of inductive and deductive reasoning. If you would like to learn more, see Inductive and Deductive Reasoning: English Composition I

Image credit:File:Reasoning.jpg” by wikibooks:en:User:Maltewoest is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Download the Big 10 Brainstorming & Drafting Worksheet to complete the following activity.

Directions: On the Big 10 Brainstorming & Drafting worksheet, you will find a page for each of the Big 10 with the criteria that CU uses to define that Big 10 listed in a table. Eventually, you will want two examples, one piece of evidence, and a reflection for each Big 10.

Today, pick one of the Big 10s for which you feel you’ve had significant learning. Take 15 minutes to brainstorm as many examples as you can for each of the elements of this Big 10. Write down enough information so that when you come back to this later, you remember what you were thinking.

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