#becomingeducational W13: Happy new year and all that

So we started with our quiz – and that led on to discussing the what, why and how of the Research Report (1000 words – due in W20), the forthcoming PERFORMANCE weeks and assessment. Oh – we handed work back also!

Qualitative Research

You gave some great replies to the opening question: What are the advantages of qualitative research? Qualitative research allows the gathering of the feelings and experiences of those who have lived the phenomenon that you are investigating. It is interpretist – as opposed to Quantitative Research – which is positivist. Postivism suggests that things, including people, can be fixed and knowable – interpretism suggests more fluidity – and therefore hints that change is possible. We argued that a qualitative approach is more suitable when investigating people’s experiences of social phenomena and that includes their experiences of the various educational forms and processes that you/we are investigating.

The Research Report

This led to a discussion of the forthcoming Research Report where you demonstrated that you knew that:

Findings: is where you summarise the key themes that you identified in the data that you collect from your participants.

Discussion: is where you discuss your themes – against the key ideas that you had discussed in your Literature Review.

Conclusion: is where you summarise the key themes discussed… and

Recommendations: is where you might suggest actions to be taken – by staff or students – in response to what you have discovered.

We noted that in a longer research project, like a dissertation, the production of interesting data might reveal that the Literature Review was not as useful as it might have been – that it offered no relevant ideas to use. In that case a good tip is to engage in more reading – and to improve the Literature Review… This shows that a good dissertation emerges from a cycle of reading – acting – reflecting – reading some more… Oh – just like any successful essay or report process, then!

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The PERFORMANCES

We took some time to get into embryonic groups and to discuss ideas for your performances in weeks 23, 24, 25 and 26. YES – they are starting a bit earlier than we said in the module handbook – and we are having one more group this year. (If you missed the class – do find a group to join!)

The performance is where you take over the class – and it’s your opportunity to be really creative around the notions of teaching, learning or assessment. It can be a literal performance – we would love to see a LondonMet focussed version of Educating Rita – or you can design a session or a series of activities that make us think about education in new ways. It is up to you… and we hope that you have a great time – that you enjoy the challenge – that you surprise and delight us and each other. This can be something to reflect on in your portfolio and/or in the final essay – but much more than that – it is your time to shine!

 

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Assessment: why oh why?

We moved on to consider the role of assessment in the life of a student… part discussion – part lecture.

What is Assessment?

Assessment of learning: designed to be a measure of what the student has achieved – against the course Aims and Learning Outcomes – and any specific Assessment Criteria for a task. Links to positivism in that it suggests that it is possible to achieve one accurate measurement – and that how, in society, one measurement can often be used to define a person: their ability, their IQ and often there worth as a human being.

Assessment for learning: designed to prompt students to actually take steps to learn the material with which they are engaging. We linked this to the opening quiz – and the fact that the quiz did indeed prompt people to revise their notes and to look up new terms and learn them. Although an extrinsic motivator for learning (in that it comes from outside of the learner) – once students see for themselves that such revision works, it can lead us to more active learning.

Assessment as learning: where assessment activities are seen as part of the learning process: that actively preparing an assignment means that people engage with the ideas and make sense of them for themselves – especially as they struggle to communicate effectively. Seeing assessment as process and as learning can help us to embrace the potential of the activities in which we engage – rather than just been focussed on the grade and the mark… It should help us see that one grade is not the measure of who and what we are!

Why do we assess?

Well – bodies that award qualifications that are portable and seen as valid and reliable require evidence upon which to base their awards – that is the function of assessment at the institutional level.

How do we assess?

Through portfolios, essays, reports, projects, dissertations, exams, presentations … each one has its own genre ‘rules’: its what/why/how – and these should be thought about when preparing an assignment. Tip: when we are preparing for the assignment itself it helps to consider the task – the question – the module aims and learning outcomes – and the rules of the genre with which we are engaging. All this can help us make the most of the assessment opportunity. As Tom says: it is the opportunity to show just how clever we are!

All of the thoughts on assessment we hope are useful to you now as students – and in your future roles of educationalists… not least we hope that you reflect on the different ways that you may want to assess your future students.

Feedback!!

You cannot have a discussion on assessment without some discussion on the role of feedback. Good feedback is designed to show where we have done well in a particular assignment – and where we have not perhaps done so well. Errors range from practical things like not referencing properly – to deeper issues like missing out on key parts of the question – not reading the ‘right’ sources – not understanding or writing in sufficient depth. The best thing to do is to reflect on both our strengths – so we repeat them in other assignments – and our weaknesses – so we do something about them. Although feedback can provoke profound emotional responses (oh how we cried!); usually the tutor is not trying to destroy us – but is rather hoping that we notice their comments – and that we then do something about them.

Feedback is particularly useful in an iterative (repetitive) education system:  where we visit information in lectures or workshops – discuss in seminars and through our coursework – and then develop further to discuss again via synoptic exam answers. This is why examinations are so popular in some circles… although they are typically not enjoyed by students.

Ta daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

And after all that preamble – work was handed back – grades were focussed upon (!!!) – but we also had the opportunity to speak with people to discuss what they had done well – what they could do differently next time…

Well done everybody!!

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#becomingeducational The Assignments Post

Here in #becomingeducational we have encouraged you to follow this blog to revise the course and gather fresh insights. We have asked you to ‘write to learn’ in your own blogs – and to share those blogs with each other. We have wanted the various blog spaces to encourage learning dialogues between us and you – between you and us – and between you and each other.

 Blog it: In this final run in to the end of the course – we want to use this blog rather than emails to answer out-of-class questions about assignments. More importantly – we want you all to start answering each others’ questions rather than relying on us.

 You are Becoming Educationalists – and we are becoming obsolescent!

So here are our notes on the report; the logs; the essay… if you want more, we will be covering the writing in class – and you can help each other out here in this blog.

The Report

The Report part of your Research Project is where you report your findings – you discuss what the raw data might mean – you draw conclusions as to their relevance to *this* context (for you were analysing an aspect of HE study) – and where applicable you make Recommendation for Practice, that is, suggestions for how to improve the learning for University students, based on your analysis of your research data. This is the formal structure required:

Findings

Discussion

Conclusions

Recommendations for Practice

Bibliography

Tip: stop worrying about this as ACADEMIC WRITING; stop worrying about this as an ASSESSMENT: think about it as having something to SAY to REAL PEOPLE.

Of your RESEARCH PROPOSAL readers would have been asking:

So what are you going to investigate? – INTRODUCTION

Why are you interested in that topic? – BACKGROUND/CONTEXT

What have other academics already discovered about that topic? – LITERATURE REVIEW

How will you carry out your own research? – METHOD

Why have you chosen to carry out the research in that way? – METHOD

 

Of your RESEARCH REPORT readers will be asking:

So what happened when you conducted your research? What are the key highlights? – FINDINGS

What do your findings mean? – DISCUSSION

What overall conclusions do you draw about University teaching/learning? – CONCLUSION

What should we do differently because of what you have found out? – RECOMMENDATIONS

In a 1000 words – be concise and analytical.

TIPS:

  • Talk to other people in the class: what is baffling when we are alone with our worries becomes sensible and do-able when we work with other people!!
  • Read and Model: read the free online journal: Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education covers exactly the sort of research that you are doing – and will offer excellent models for how you should write up your work: http://www.aldinhe.ac.uk/ojs/index.php?journal=jldhe

The Learning Logs

The Learning Logs are worth 30% of the overall mark for the course as a whole – so STOPTHINK: what do you think you will have to do to get those marks? What do you think a great reflective log will have to look like?

Three half pages of notes won’t do it will they?

Show you know

The point of the learning log and the blog is to improve the quantity and quality of your learning by making the learning conscious. You do this by engaging in reflection and what we call meta-cognition: realising what we know – how we know it – and how we might apply it and so forth.

Good reviews should indicate an awareness both of the ‘point’ of a lesson – and the ‘point’ of the review process itself. Reflections should be crisp and clear – but relevant and useful. Some of you have already shown some brilliant, detailed and most important of all ENGAGED blog posts, submit those! For those of you who are less certain about what to do – at the very least your reflections should follow a trajectory like this:

What: what are all the different things that we did this week?

Why: for each activity – WHY did we do that – what was the purpose?

Reaction: how did engaging in those activities make me feel? Why did I react in that way? How can I harness my positive reactions? How can I harness my negative reactions?

Illustration: how would I illustrate this week’s learning to make it more memorable?

Learned: what have I learned or gained or become aware of – through ALL of the different activities that we did? How might I apply this learning in my practice now as a student? How might I apply this in the future in my professional practice as an educationalist?

Next steps: what reading, writing or other follow up activities will I do in the light of al these reflections? Then – evidence that you did do some of that follow up work…

Appendices: given that you will be submitting three pertinent log/blog extracts for assessment, add Appendices – where you demonstrate the application of the learning and the follow up activities that you did.

Tips: Appendices might contain notes of further reading that you did, pictures of further collages that you made, links to artefacts that you produced to illustrate your learning, short free write extracts …

The Essay

We have covered the essay generally and this essay in particular over several weeks already – check out https://becomingeducational.wordpress.com/2014/03/13/w22-becomingeducational-the-essay-our-essay/

Things to think about:

What is an educationalist? What is an inspiring and empowering educationalist? What sort of educationalist do you want to become?

Why have we designed the module the way that we did? Think about the module contents – and also the teaching and learning style – the different things we have wanted you to think about and do… the ways that we have wanted to you to act and interact… What was the point of all that?

Tip: Check out our Conference presentation – delivered in class in W26 – and delivered at the ALDinHE Conference over Easter – MOST IMPORTANTLY read our summary of how Etienne Wenger-Trayner describes education as becoming: http://lastrefugelmu.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/aldinhe-conference-2014-learning.html

What THREE things are you going to write about?

  • Did you enjoy the interactivity – all those discussions and presentations?
  • The research project – from participant observation to digital artefact?
  • What about the Developing Digital Me project – where we asked you to engage in #ds106 or a MOOC as part of your ‘reading’?
  • Were you engaged by the Visual practices (collage, drawing, illustrated notes) or the  role playing and simulation or that we wanted students in charge (peer mentoring, conference workshop, student workshops)?
  • Were you surprised by the free writing or the topic mediated dialogue?
  • Was the Music or the Dance workshop the thing that made a difference?
  • Was there anything that you thought was interesting – or well designed – or powerful – or effective…?

Tips: Do not DESCRIBE, ANALYSE; refer to the LITERATURE to justify your arguments; think about these questions: what was the point of that? Did it work? How and why did it work? How might you use yourself in the future?   

Help each other

From now on, we really do not want to be answering individual email queries about the assignments. We have designed all the assignments to promote active learning – they are assessment as and for learning – not just of learning (though do enjoy the opportunity to show what you have learned). We will be covering the assignments as part of our active learning in class over the last few weeks of the course.

BUT – if you have queries, comments, suggestions and examples – POST THEM HERE – so that your class mates could answer – and so that if we answer, that answer is going to every body in the class and not just one person!

All the best – enjoy these last few weeks – and enjoy helping each other in class and here in cyber space.