How to Tackle the Individual Paper
Below I will remind you of the brief and then provide some guidance about how to answer the questions.
You are required to submit a 2,500 word reflective paper that comprises 40% of your total module mark. The aim of the paper is to facilitate reflection upon the co-operative practice and philosophy of working together.
Using a range of academic sources and your reflections upon your own experiences (i.e. your experience of being part of a co-operative enterprise with specific responsibilities for one aspect of the business plan) please address the following questions and issues in your paper.
- What challenges are faced by co-operative members, as they seek to combine individual skills, inspiration and enthusiasm with a set of collective values and principles? How can these challenges be overcome in theory and in practice?
- Please respond to a specific problem that you faced in developing your business plan (i.e. the part you were primarily responsible for, namely: legal structure; finance; strategy; governance; economic Forecast) and comment on: (i) the nature of the problem; (ii) the solution to the problem that you adopted; (iii) possible reforms that would reduce or limit the problem for future co-operators.
- What specific co-operative knowledge and/or skills have you developed as part of being part of a co-operative enterprise?
The data for this personal reflective paper will be generated from your experience as a co-operator in the group work component of this module and comprises your reflections upon the challenges of working together.
The brief is structured in 3 parts. You must address all three parts of the brief. However, the sequence in which you answer these questions is up to you. For example, you might wish to start with item 2, then move on to question 3 and skip back to question 1.
Whatever structure you decide upon, it will be helpful to use subtitles to structure your paper to show which question you are addressing.
It is acceptable to write in the first person i.e. ‘I found my group frustrating because…’. ‘My opinion is that…’.
You will not need to write in the first person throughout the whole paper, but I expect you to express personal views at various points in the paper.
The importance of Academic Sources
The module handbook contains lots of references to Co-operative literature. Some of the most important for this paper are associated with session 5 on the Philosophy of Co-operative Working. There are also key texts located in ELE found in the Class Readings section under the Lecture 5: Philosophy of Working Together Link. Writers like Johnson and Johnson will enable you to learn more about co-operative values and principles.
You need to reference these academic sources in your paper!
As you read, you hopefully will be able to identify concepts that relate to your experience in your Co-operative Group. For example, Johnson and Johnson (2005) introduce the idea of social interdependence theory and positive interdependence. You might wish to explain this concept and then reflect upon how just being a member of a group is not sufficient to drive positive interdependence. For example, you could reflect upon other group work you have been involved with on your degree programme and analyse whether your group experience was different on this module and why.
Reflection can begin when we view our experience from different perspectives:
i) Theoretical reflection (concepts, ideas and structures)
ii) Seeing through our ‘eyes’
iii) Seeing through our colleagues ‘eyes’
iv) Seeing through the community of scholars ‘eyes’ (i.e. the academic literature)
v) Seeing through our supervisor or line manager’s ‘eyes’
So you could ask your colleagues what they thought of you as a team worker or a leader in your group. This will help you to understand what your strengths and weaknesses are. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses will help you make a greater contribution to co-operative enterprises in the future.
I wrote my own reflective paper for my training as a lecturer – now available on ELE. It explains the origins of the module you have attended, but in the context of literature about research-led teaching. This reflection upon the literature and my practice as a lecturer is what makes this paper robust.
Jennifer Moon (2004) A Handbook of Reflective and Experiential Learning: Theory and Practice, London: Routledge
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