Group reflection


Screenshot of programming blocks
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Group Reflection

Group Members:         Nicholas Roche
                                    Geraldine Langan
                                    Rahel Yergashewa


"Leaders are best
When people barely know they exist,
Not so good when people acclaim them,
But of a good leader, who talks little,
When their work is done, their aim fulfilled,
Their people will all say
"We did this ourselves".

                                    Lao-Tse ( Ancient Chinese Philosopher)

In working in this team we believe we learned that firstly that we needed to talk through just what we were setting out to do. What the assignment was and how we each perceived it. This done we needed to plan what we hoped to do, what functions we hoped  to have the robot perform. We looked at the possibilities, mindful of the need to use at least two sensors in the exercise. All of us suggested possible programmes, some in hindsight were a little ambitious but we were innocent back then.
The first problem which we encountered as a group was the time factor.  Carrying out this  kind of task in a group environment requires adequate time for the group to meet frequently and discuss and come up with an abstract idea and make it concrete. The most difficult part of the project is thinking of an idea, coming up with an idea that can be programmed and then implementing it.

Here is an example of the initial exercises that were carried out in order to become familiar with the concrete structure and abstract program.

Given time,  it is possible to have a number of abstract ideas which can be changed to a concrete knowledge.  Bridging the gap between the abstract and the concrete knowledge requires having abstract ideas and making a number of trials to transform the abstract ideas into practical. It requires patience and repeated work, in mapping the idea, programming it, testing and reprogramming. The team were so cooperative, devoted and had a good team spirit which are actually good elements of a team.   Team work is a good way of learning and
creates collaboration and experience of sharing. As a group we came across a number of discussions, which actually helped each of us to get something out of it. However, how would we use these discussions and brainstorming sessions to maximum efficiency and what models are available to help us to further examine the role of teamworking.
As a team we felt it would be extremely beneficial to maximise this exercise and further examine what teamworking means and the models that shape how it is implemented.  To assess the different stages of the project we adopted the Tuckman Model and to further analyse we used the Belbin Model.
The Tuckman Model
The Tuckman Model is a way of analysing the stages of development in a team. Tuckman sees the four stages of development as Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing.
As a team we jumped from the Forming stage to the Norming and Performing stage ommiting the Storming stage out of sheer politeness. The team could have been more aggressive in its attitude to the task, however, it was not in the personalities of the members to do this. There was no aggression or conflict. Perhaps the most prominent feeling that rose in the group was frustration, not with each other but with the inconsistencies between the abstract and the concrete. The Performing stage was the best of the all, as the team realised their achievement and there was an equal sense of achievement among all the team members.
The Belbin Model:
We decided to use the Dr. Meredith Belbin’s team model to investigate what skills we each brought to the team. We looked at role types and tried to see if any one of us fitted a particular role type.
We were all agreed we were ‘team-worker’ role types to start with.  One of us had definite traits of the ‘completer finisher’ which could have had negative impact if not reined in. Another team member had distinct traits of the co-ordinator, promoting and, where necessary, delegating.  Another member was very discerning, seeing all the options, willing to try to create programs without the benefit of a robot to test with. These latter traits were those of a person in a ‘monitor evaluator’ role. Other traits we identified in the team were conscientiousness, ability to turn abstract ideas into practical actions, willingness to be open to new ideas or to constructive criticism of ideas presented. One member of the team felt they were playing an introvert role in the team, very much worried about the end results of the team. They also recognised the fact that they were a  bit of complete finisher, who worried about every thing and at one time maintained a sense of urgency that slightly helped the group, in coming up with small programs , which actually were not tested because of the problem which we encountered with the inconsistency of the RCX brick. There was a high degree of cooperation given the practicalities of the task set out and how it might successfully be accomplished.
When we needed to we were able to take serious decisions, ditching the RCX was the main issue here. We could have chosen to stay with the process end of the assignment and adopt Brendan’s maxim, ‘Sure, so what if the ‘fecking’ thing doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do’, at least we experienced the process and the learning that goes with that. We began again and used our prior experience to bring the abstract into the concrete world. Having had our fair share of failure in the product area of this assignment it was amazing the lift we experienced once the abstract met the concrete in a manner that was constant, without deviation and which actually made us laugh.  (maybe with relief).
The multifaceted components of this project were extraordinary. At times it was difficult to fully understand exactly where the importance lay. To this team every component had equal importance for example, the knowledge gained from applying the abstract learning to the concrete, teamworking skills and the benefits that this brings, the importance of the end product to lift the moral and sense of achievement within the team. We would highly recommend the team nature of this assignment and of team work in general on this course.

Belbin:  “Nobody is perfect – but a team can be”.










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