One paper down ten to go! Getting stuck into an MSc in Organisational Development (at last)

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April 27th, 2012

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I have been thinking about doing an MSc in Organisational Development for 11 years (long story as to why) and have probably requested the Roffey Park information at least four times so it was with real excitement, anticipation and a bit of dread (there go all my weekends) that I made the very long journey from Leicester to Roffey in February of this year.

Why Roffey Park given it takes me four hours (a bike ride, a train to London, a tube across London, a train out of London to Horsham and a taxi to Roffey) to get there? I was attracted to a programme where I took responsibility for what I learned rather then someone telling me what to learn. As an experienced Consultant I had attended programmes at Roffey Park and used their coaching services for senior charity managers, so I was aware of their approach and quality. I have always been really interested in their humanistic origins, established in 1946 to provide rehabilitation and support to people in industry suffering from overwork, nervous strain and depression.

Being self employed, my work patters are variable and unpredictable, so the structure of the Roffey MSc is a real plus. During the first year, there are three, 3 day residentials, dates are set well in advance. The other regular commitment is the monthly set meetings, which are structured in a way to keep you connected to the MSC, to support you with writing academic papers and to share organisational development stories and practice. My set has met twice and I’m really excited about the potential for us to develop our practice together. I’m working with people very different to me and from very different sectors. Its great rubbing shoulders with organisational development people from BA, Vodafone and the NHS (hoping to benefit from travel perks and medical care in due course).

The focus of the first residential was on getting to know each other, the staff and this wide wonderfully diverse world called organisational development. The four days were like a roller coaster for me. The  ups – feeling excitement about being in a learning environment again, the networking, the opportunities this would open up work wise in the future and the downs, can I do this, am I up to it, what about my family life and how will I fit work around it?  All I can say so far is, yes I have worked a fair bit at the weekends but I have actually enjoyed it and the absolutely best bit is being in a collaborative learning environment. We share resources, suggest reading material, talk about what we have read together, very different to my experience as an undergraduate putting library books back in the wrong place so no one would write about the same things as me (it was a long time ago). In those days, you wrote an essay, gave it to someone cleverer than you to say what they think and get a mark.

The process for writing our papers is so much more grown up and helpful.  For our first paper, guided by someone from Roffey Park, who acts as a set advisor, we discussed and came up with our own assessment criteria for the position paper. We all produced formative drafts which we self assessed and had five other people read and comment on. We then produced a summative version of the paper and again, this was read, discussed and assessed by self and five others. It is a time consuming, rigorous and can be quite a painful process, pushes a lot of pass/fail buttons (but it is an MSC so it has too).  In the middle of the self and peer assessment process I did have some questions and moments of doubt about the process and doubtless will again. 

Now I am onto the next paper. Already one of my set has asked someone from Roffey Park’s Learning Resource Centre to do a search on articles and this information has already been uploaded onto a shared study site. Will tell you more the LRC and the fantastic study support we get next time. Got a paper to write!