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Durning B and Ferguson E (2009)

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  • 1. Professional planning skills in practice: a transatlantic comparative assessment Bridget Durning, Oxford Brookes University Erik Ferguson, American University of Sharjah PRC, Newcastle University, 2 nd April 2009
  • 2. Why?
    • Mutual interest
    • Professional planning skills are often discussed but rarely understood.
    • Theoretical studies in planning practice tend look at what planners do, not how they do it.
  • 3. First contrast!
    • Studies in North America - fueled largely by academic undercurrents
    • Studies in UK - driven mainly by need to assess impact of a constantly changing planning system on practice and implications for education provision
  • 4. Focus
    • Small number of US + large number of UK studies = more work needed!
    • Focus on one skill set for PRC
    • Hypothesis from Kitchen (2007)
  • 5. US
    • 15 studies, although some are derivative
    • Number focus just on quantitative research methods
    • Other skills – synthesis; research design (problem solving); data collection; data analysis
    • Schon – ‘reflective practitioner’
  • 6. UK
    • References in Durning and Glasson (2004), Higgins et al (2007), Kitchen (2007) (38 studies)
    • Limited number included ‘research’ skills
  • 7. √ conceptual /intellectual √ synoptic and integrative skills √ strategic thinking, making connections, seeing bigger picture √ synthesis and application of knowledge √ the ability to listen, communicate, negotiate, manage conflict, reframe and synthesis √ collaborative problem solving √ problem solving and analysis √ problem solving/analysis of complex issues √ problem solving and decision making √ organising and evaluating information √ research/ analysis Kitchen (2007) Higgins et al (2007) Durning and Glasson 2004 Participatory planning for sustainable communities (Hague et al., 2003) Members survey - what do we (Priority Research, 1997) Annual report 1994-1995 (DNTP 1996) Planners as managers: shifting the gaze (Higgins et al, 1995) Skill
  • 8. √ demonstrating an ability to exercise initiative, original thought and independence, within a system of personal values √ demonstrating ability to exercise initiative, original thought and independence √ postulating and evaluation of alternative futures √ collaborative and multidisciplinary working √ weighing evidence, problem solving and decision making √ creative problem solving √ problem definition √ quantitative + qualitative analysis and appraisal √ collecting analysing, evaluating, synthesising planning data √ data collection, investigation and research √ academic research an investigation into planning field Academic standards - town and country planning (QAA, 2002) Course accreditation documentation (RTPI, 2001) Skill
  • 9. Conclusions
    • Planners in UK and US seem to have and use a similar range of ‘research’ skills
    • Key ones of original thought, seeing the bigger picture – not recognised enough in UK and not at all in US?
    • Or is more research needed?
  • 10.
    • “ Research is, after all, the means through which academics develop a reflexive critique of practice which is vital in the complex ambiguous world we live in today. For the students who are the professionals of the future, developing the ability to investigate problems, make judgments on the basis of sound evidence, take decisions on a rational basis, and understand what they are doing and why is vital. Research and inquiry is not just for those who choose to pursue an academic career. “(Brew, 2007, p7).
    • “ We need to encourage universities and colleges to explore new models of curriculum. Government and funding bodies should incentivise and support the radical realignment of undergraduate curricula: we require curricula that are transdisciplinary, that extend students to their limits, that develop skills of inquiry and research, and that are imbued with international perspectives”. (Ramsden, report to DIUS 2009)
    • Answer? Research-based learning? Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Research – CETL joint Warwick University and Oxford Brookes. Current project on evaluating research-based learning in School of Built Environment

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