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Alumna Joni Rhodes has had her work published in an academic journal after adopting an unconventional method for communicating

  • 22 March 2021
  • 3 min read

After graduating in 2020 from the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, alumna Joni Rhodes has had her article published in the Action Learning: Research and Practice Journal. Joni, who works at the University, has written the article with Senior HR Lecturer Dr Cheryl Brook about the application of action learning sets based on her final year project.


We asked Joni to tell us what action learning is and how she felt about getting published.

The concept of action learning 

As part of our final year studies we were introduced to Action Learning, which is an approach to problem solving. It involved working with a small group known as a 'set' that explores real issues and uses collective thinking to develop strategies to address them, taking action and then reflecting on the results. 
 
I found it really useful to tackle problems and blockages when planning and executing my final project, and gathered a small number of fellow students to continue action learning beyond the structured sets we had undertaken as part of the teaching block. Due to time pressures and distance, I suggested we use WhatsApp and conduct our sets remotely. My reflections on that process featured heavily in my corresponding academic work. 

Getting published!

Following the submission of that work, my supervisor Dr Cheryl Brook approached me about co-writing a paper. I was surprised, as it had not occurred to me that my take on the subject would be of any interest to the wider academic community, but it transpires that the use of WhatsApp in this way is quite novel.

As an undergraduate I was quite daunted about writing for an established journal, but I had great support from Cheryl and the publishers themselves. It was definitely a proud moment to receive the email saying it was out there in the real world, and I've had people reading as far afield as South Africa!

Joni Rhodes, BA (Hons) Business Leadership and Management (2020), Research and Innovation Officer, University of Portsmouth

How others can implement action learning

Implementing action learning is surprisingly simple; all you need is a small group of peers committed to thinking creatively and open questioning, some ground rules and a way to meet or share. The benefits of seeing potential ways to approach your challenges through other people's perspectives are huge, and you have the ability to help others at the same time, so it's a win win. 
 
I'm really lucky to have been supported by my employer to undertake studies which directly enhance my ability to do a job that I enjoy, and I'm currently enjoying putting that knowledge into practice. 

About me

Having returned to the Isle of Wight following several years living and working in London, I was drawn to work for the University of Portsmouth due to its reputation and opportunities for career progression.
 
I applied for a role in the Faculty of Creative & Cultural Industries in 2017 and, having no degree qualifications at the time, was delighted to be offered the position on the basis of my professional experience. However, when the opportunity arose to undertake a Degree Apprenticeship in my first year of employment at the University I jumped at the chance to combine my work with my studies and formalise my experience in this way. 
 
I was promoted within my existing role as Research & Innovation Officer during my studies, and following my graduation in 2020 have been regularly utilising what I learned within the workplace.

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