HERG Postgraduate Reflective Essay Prize 2015 – Call for Submissions

 Higher Education Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society – with Institute of British Geographers

Postgraduate Reflective Essay Prize 2015

 Call for Submissions

The Higher Education Research Group (HERG) invites submissions for its annual Postgraduate Reflective Essay – in association with the 2015 RGS-IBG conference.

The reflective essay should offer personal reflections on the broad area of transformational learning in Higher Education. Transformational (or transformative) learning takes learners’ knowledge and skills into a different domain. Such learning is often ‘unsettling’ in that it leads to questioning of accepted assumptions and views and to new ways of knowing and understanding. As Eyler & Giles (1999, p133) note: ‘Transformational learning occurs as we struggle to solve a problem where our usual ways of doing or seeing do not work, and we are called to question the validity of what we think we know or to critically examine the very premises of our perception of the problem’. You might consider transformational learning in the classroom, field or laboratory, or in co-curricular activities you have undertaken, and you might describe a range of encounters with academic staff, fellow students, and learning spaces. You are free to be creative in your interpretation of this broad theme.

Moon (2004: 84) has suggested that the following outcomes can result from reflective processes:

  • Learning, knowledge and understanding
  • A process of critical review
  • Reflection on the process of learning (metacognition)
  • The building of theory from observations in practice situations
  • The making of decisions/resolutions of uncertainty, the solving of problems, empowerment and emancipation
  • Unexpected outcomes (e.g. images, ideas that could be solutions to dilemmas or seen as creative activity)
  • Emotion that can be an outcome or can be part of the process
  • Clarification and the recognition that there is need for further reflection
  • Some form of action

The award for the winner of the competition will be free registration (at the Postgraduate Member rate) and £100 towards travel and accommodation to attend the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference in 2015 (to be held at the University of Exeter, 2-4 September 2015). The winning entry will be published on the HERG website and there will also be the opportunity to submit the essay for peer review and consequent publication (if accepted) in a Higher Education pedagogic journal such as Journal of Geography in Higher Education.

The competition is open to all postgraduate students, including those finishing their studies in 2015. The essay will be judged by members of the HERG Committee and the prize will be awarded to the essay that offers the most interesting reflections into transformational learning. The committee reserves the right to withhold the prize if submissions are not deemed to be of sufficient quality.

Eligible essays for this competition must be type-written manuscripts 2,500-3,000 words in length. Each essay should be accompanied by a short (150-200 word) abstract, together with a clear statement of the author’s full name, university, email address and telephone number. The word count of the essay (minus abstract and any references) should be stated at the close of the document. Essays should be in English with translation provided for any quotations or sections in a language other than English.  Interested postgraduate students should submit a copy electronically, together with a short supporting statement from their Head of Department to confirm their affiliation. Entries must be emailed to catherine.white@northumbria.ac.uk by 12.00pm on March 1st 2015. Please put Postgraduate Reflective Essay Competition in the subject line. Any questions about the competition should be sent to catherine.white@northumbria.ac.uk.