The first semester of the Master in Decision Analysis program has flown by and I can already notice shifts in my way of learning and thinking. Now is the perfect moment to reflect and share about my experience so far, before diving into the next semester.
How has the program been different than what I expected?
Going into the program, I wasn’t sure how we were going to connect as a cohort as our class spans eight time zones. However, we have found ways to connect. The sentiment of wanting to get to know one another beyond the classroom, and how we are applying course concepts in our lives, is shared across our cohort. Minerva has provided us with opportunities to connect, and as a cohort we’ve created groups attuned to our interests.
As someone with a social sciences and qualitative research background, I was most intimidated by the program’s coursework on formal logic, fallacy detection, statistics, and data analysis. The class I was most afraid of is now the class I am most eager to engage in. This eagerness has been fostered by my professor and classmates as we work together to unpack concepts and apply skills.
What key lessons have I learned so far?
The cognitive transformation needed to effectively learn is slow and challenging, but gratifying. As someone who has studied in “traditional” ways throughout the entirety of my academic career, it is easy to fall back into old habits. Minerva provides us with research-backed tools to study, but it is up to us to actively apply them. I know when I do actually apply the tools, the course content and skills are more readily embedded in, and retrievable from, my mental repertoire. Building and nurturing these new mental muscles takes patience, time, and training.
The program has pushed me to imagine alternative realities. In class, we often question reality and wonder what alternative reasons may exist for a particular outcome. We also question our own biases and push ourselves to consider the opposite of our initial perceptions. Practicing this line of questioning with my classmates and professors is instilling in me the habit of recognizing different possibilities, inputs, and outputs, for a given circumstance.
How is the program impacting me so far?
I’ve noticed I’m both more open to alternative arguments and critical of all arguments. I feel more receptive to oppositional takes or perspectives, while also finding myself tracing the path of all arguments I encounter. I often wonder, “what fallacies could this argument be relying on?” This was especially noticeable most recently going home for the holidays and having conversations with family and friends!
I’m finding myself approaching different problems in my life in a more systematic way. I take a step back, apply some of the strategies I’ve learned in class, and can more readily and effectively approach issues that previously seemed overwhelming.
I’m eager to continue honing and building my learning, critical thinking, and analysis skills in the next semester.