Teaching Innovations as Career Development: turning new teaching ideas into education publications


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Slides from a workshop for new teachers, run on behalf of the Society of Biology and the Higher Education Academy at Charles Darwin House, London, in May 2014.

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Teaching Innovations as Career Development: turning new teaching ideas into education publications

  1. 1. Dr Chris Willmott Dept of Biochemistry, University of Leicester cjrw2@le.ac.uk Teaching Innovations as Career Development: Turning new teaching ideas into education publications Workshop for NewTeachers (May 2014) University of Leicester
  2. 2. Roles within UK Higher Education 1. Teaching-focused? 2. Teaching and some Research? 3. Research and some Teaching? 4. Research-focused?
  3. 3. Purpose for session • Advice for developing pedagogic publication portfolio • “Proper” education research = as labour intensive (and quite possibly takes longer to achieve) than bench science • Turning things you were doing anyway into publications • Accounts sharing good practice = “quick wins” • Illustrate using some of my experience • Workshop: doing v describing v deconstructing ?
  4. 4. Why publish education papers? http://tinyurl.com/squarepeg1 • Education publications unlikely to be REFable - education journals have low (or no) impact factor - fall between “Bioscience” and “Education” • Pedagogy specialist going to be safer than 2* researcher • Career development - evidence for CV - internal promotion - external accreditation (eg HEA Fellowships)
  5. 5. Generic v Bio-Specific Journals? • Generic education research journals have higher kudos • Generic journals have higher “impact factor” (but still too low for REF purposes) However… • Bioscience-specific journals have more “impact” with colleagues within the discipline • Willing to accept teaching innovation papers as well as more formal education research • “This worked well for me, it might help you too” • Good place to start publication
  6. 6. Bioscience-specific journals JBE Society of Biology School science as well as HE Bioscience Education HEA Higher Education only
  7. 7. Bioscience-specific journals BAMBED www.bambed.org CBE Life Science Education www.lifescied.org Advances in Physiology Education advan.physiology.org
  8. 8. Practitioner to practitioner papers • These journals accepts variety of formats, but each has case study or teaching tips section(s) – may have different names • Bioscience Education: Short communication • JBE: Case studies • Advances in Physiology Education: Illuminations • CBE-LSE & BAMBED: all short articles on innovative teaching
  9. 9. Bioscience Education Short Communication • “Describe potential teaching materials or approaches and their uses… • “… good ideas… generated and evaluated… may not warrant a full paper… • “… succinct yet sufficiently informative to enable readers to repeat the teaching approach… • “… where possible… supported by preliminary data”
  10. 10. Bioscience Education Descriptive account • Fuller reports than Short Communication • “Detailing educational practices that have been “tried and tested” and which include evidence of appropriate assessment and evaluation”
  11. 11. JBE Case studies • “... supported by preliminary data which is of insufficient breadth to support a full paper, but is novel enough to warrant rapid publication. • “...can also describe a novel teaching/learning aid or method that can be related to the curriculum, and implemented in a classroom environment. • “... Emphasis… on the nature of the practice, with a clear description of the implementation procedure, and an evaluation of its success. • “... should have been trialled”
  12. 12. Advances in Physiology Education Illuminations • “... a succinct description of something you have used in the classroom, for teaching, or in the laboratory. Laboratory Sourcebook • “… detailed descriptions of practical activities that can be used for hands-on exploration in student laboratory settings.”
  13. 13. CBE-LSE Articles • “... should describe how the study was designed and conducted to yield generalizable claims and should be applicable beyond a single course • “… systematic collection and analysis of educational data and include rigorous reflection” • NB Requires evidence of ethical approval
  14. 14. BAMBED Articles • “Articles are welcomed on innovative teaching techniques and practice in all areas related to [biochemistry and molecular biology education], which include assessment of the effectiveness… • “… articles providing details of simple, tried and tested, laboratory experiments are especially encouraged” • NB Ethical approval encouraged
  15. 15. Illustrative examples • Give some examples from my own papers • “Meta-narrative”: more on background context and rationale than may have been in publication
  16. 16. Tentative steps… • Appointed lecturer January 2000 • Semester 1, Autumn 2000 • Year 1 Biochemistry lectures (n=5) • Gone too fast, knew I only had about 25 mins material for final lecture, needed “filler” • Developed Amino Acid and Protein revision bingo
  17. 17. Revision bingo KM Competitive Glutamate Zwitterion -sheet Proline -helix Lineweaver-Burk Ornithine Kcat Michaelis-Menten Cysteine Tyrosine Vmax Non-competitive Tubulin Glycine -galactosidase Tryptophan Henderson- Hasselbalch Serine pK Lysine -mercaptoethanol Haemoglobin
  18. 18. 5 x 5 grid Verbal clues – multi-layered e.g. “This next answer is an amino acid… it is unusual amongst the amino acids found in proteins as the side-chain is actually bonded to the backbone nitrogen… Because of this it has reduced flexibility and it is not usually found in alpha helices… The single letter code for this amino acid is P.” Revision bingo KM Competitive Glutamate Zwitterion -sheet Proline -helix Lineweaver-Burk Ornithine Kcat Michaelis-Menten Cysteine Tyrosine Vmax Non-competitive Tubulin Glycine -galactosidase Tryptophan Henderson- Hasselbalch Serine pK Lysine -mercaptoethanol Haemoglobin
  19. 19. All same game card Objective: revision > winning - but offer small prize Revision bingo KM Competitive Glutamate Zwitterion -sheet Proline -helix Lineweaver-Burk Ornithine Kcat Michaelis-Menten Cysteine Tyrosine Vmax Non-competitive Tubulin Glycine -galactosidase Tryptophan Henderson- Hasselbalch Serine pK Lysine -mercaptoethanol Haemoglobin Fun way of doing a quick test Flexible: - duration of a game - number of participants - content (adapted for different topics)
  20. 20. 1st HE Education paper • Wrote up exercise • Two elements: (i) Activity itself (‘off the shelf’) (ii) Practical tips for adapting • Published in BAMBED • Note - descriptive, no significant evaluation
  21. 21. Activity: what is plagiarism? • Presented with worksheet • Study the paragraph, below, taken from Pharmacology (4th edition, 1999) by Rang, Dale & Ritter. During the last 60 years the development of effective and safe drugs to deal with bacterial infections has revolutionised medical treatment, and the morbidity and mortality from microbial disease have been dramatically reduced. • Look at each of the seven essay extracts and decide whether or not you consider the author is guilty of plagiarism.
  22. 22. Activity: Plagiarised or ok?
  23. 23. Plagiarism: Origin of exercise • Same semester, two students identified as copying chunk from textbook • Their defence – it had been cited in text so “ok” • Many students are “accidental” plagiarists: - Not understanding the rules - Not enough time (poor time-keeping) - Poor study skills • Exercise to develop understanding • Prevention better than cure, better than confirmation of guilt Nick Newman
  24. 24. Plagiarism session • Exercise followed by tutor-led discussion of appropriate and inappropriate use • Leading into practical tips on avoidance of accidental plagiarism - advice on good note-taking practice - advice on referencing - warning re Turnitin
  25. 25. Published in JBE • Willmott CJR and Harrison TM (2003) An exercise to teach students about plagiarism Journal of Biological Education 37:139-140
  26. 26. Why JBE? • Pragmatic: Had published in BAMBED, Bioscience Education and CBE-LSE did not yet exist • Intended audience: plagiarism is an issue in secondary as well as higher education • Content therefore applicable to wider audience • Interactive Learning section
  27. 27. Unexpected consequences (1) • Editor at JBE asked me to run workshop on plagiarism at Association for Science Education conference • Timetabled against Patrick Moore • Audience n=1 (plus chair) • She was journalist for Times Educational Supplement – wrote it up • 4 months later she discussed again in TES • Leicester Mercury picked it up • Times Higher picked it up from Mercury • Invited to write piece for Higher
  28. 28. Unexpected consequences (2) • Resonated with felt need elsewhere • Lots of emails of thanks +/or permission to adapt (including other disciplines) • Not generating “citations” but evidence of impact • Colleague in student development turned it into online self-study exercise
  29. 29. Plagiarism avoidance • Original activity adapted by Stuart Johnson into self-directed tutorial using Adobe Presenter • “Don’t Cheat Yourself” now uses different example for Bioscientists http://tinyurl.com/ plagiarism-biology • now also 16 other subjects http://tinyurl.com/ plagiarismtutorials
  30. 30. Writing scientific reports • Article describing series of tutorial activities developing students’ knowledge about structure of scientific reports • Note: 1st issue of Bioscience Education (2003)
  31. 31. Essay writing • Essay writing remains a cornerstone of assessment • Students may have received little specific guidance or feedback on exam essays: - tend to take place at or near end of module - reticence re haggling for marks? • Rare opportunity to see genuine work produced by other students http://tinyurl.com/essayhand10
  32. 32. Essay writing • Activity involving three phases: • Stage 1: students peer-review genuine exam essays written by previous cohort • Stage 2: write essay under exam conditions • Stage 3: peer-mark each other’s essays
  33. 33. Essay writing: Stage 1 • Students read set of exam essays • In groups, rank answers according to formal marking criteria • Each group reports back on ranking, these are compared with ‘real’ order • Tutor-led discussion on strengths and weaknesses • Other advice on exam technique
  34. 34. Essay writing: Stage 1 - issues • Number and range of essays? - six = a good number - less = insufficient spread of quality - more = take too long, distinctions becomes subtle • Handwritten or typed? - handwritten - layout and legibility as learning outcome - photocopy once, remove marker’s comments (but record elsewhere), re-photocopy
  35. 35. Essay writing: Stage 1 - issues • Right to use previous students’ essays? - initially with essays from archive - collected permission from cohort and used their essays - institutional policy on students’ IPR?
  36. 36. Essay writing: Stage 2 • Students plan essay on specified topic • One week later • 45 minutes, exam conditions • Formal exam booklets • Candidate numbers only (nb peer-marking) • Extra MPH for dyslexics etc http://tinyurl.com/independentessay
  37. 37. Essay writing: Stage 3 • Peer-evaluation of essays • Tutor-led discussion of key issues & common errors • Essays distributed to groups (not their own) • 45 mins to read and offer feedback on as many as possible • No writing on script, feedback accumulated on sheet of coloured paper circulated with essay • Essays collected back in and passed to tutor team for summative marking • Returned with peer and tutor feedback
  38. 38. Essay writing: the paper • Willmott C (2007) ‘You have 45 minutes, starting from now’: helping students develop their exam essay skills Bioscience Education 9-C2 • Included: - description of task and rationale - practical advice if seeking to replicate - qualitative comments from students demonstrating enjoyment and perceived value of task - combined data from 2 cohorts comparing their ranking order with “real” (i.e. staff) ranking • Suspected not enough for “full paper” so submitted as Short Communication
  39. 39. Experimental design • QAA Benchmarking statements (2007, p2): “students should develop competence in comparing the merits of alternative hypotheses and receive guidance in terms of how to construct experiments or to make observations to challenge them” • 50 minute introductory session for Yr 1 students: Can you smell fear?
  40. 40. • Students watch short clip describing an experiment to investigate whether you can smell if someone is afraid • Having watched the clip, they discuss: - what was good about the design of the expt? - what was wrong with the experiment? http://tinyurl.com/terrorface1 Experimental design
  41. 41. Brainiac Science Abuse: The Smell of Fear Sky1, 07:00, 28th January 2009 (http://tinyurl.com/brainiacfear) Experimental design
  42. 42. Good aspects of Brainiac expt? • - included a negative control (no fear, no sport) • - all subjects carried out their activity for same time • - all subjects were “sniffer” by same person • - all subjects were same gender • …but little else is good
  43. 43. What was wrong with this expt? • only one “sniff-er” • only three “sweat-ers” • was not the same person on crane/running/relaxing • distance nose-to-armpit not same in all cases • may have been other explanations for the observed differences, e.g. • natural body odour differences between the three • use of deodorant • eating of smelly foods • olfactory fatigue/adaptation may have occurred
  44. 44. Design a better version • work with those sitting near you to design a better experiment looking into whether it is possible to smell fear http://tinyurl.com/armpitsniffing1
  45. 45. A more scientific approach Prehn-Kristensen et al (2009), PLoS ONE 4(6): e5987 http://tinyurl.com/anxietypaper
  46. 46. Experimental design • Paper offering the exercise “off the shelf” (slides downloadable via Slideshare) and advice • Good idea, supported by some qualitative data, but not substantial evaluation Willmott CJR (2011) Introduction to experimental design: can you smell fear? Journal of Biological Education 45:102-105
  47. 47. Sharing uncovered treasure • Scope for papers in which you share advice on (discipline-specific) use of resource generated by third party • e.g. Willmott C (2006) Never again shout “That WOULD have been useful for my teaching” at the TV Bioscience Education 7-C1 • Introduces readers to TRILT, the Television and Radio Index for Learning and Teaching • Developed by British Universities Film and Video Council, widely available to Unis, but underused • Short Communication with tips on usage http://tinyurl.com/gold2013a
  48. 48. Two opportunities • Over time teaching activities evolve • Ethics dimension in Yr 2 module for Med Biochemists • Wanted novel assignment not course essay • Initially developed task producing websites about ethical topic • Became obsolete as blogging services such as Blogger and Wordpress emerged • Fall in cost of digital cameras and availability of editing tools allowed for replacement • Students now produce short videos on bioethics
  49. 49. Two opportunities: two papers • Both the original web-authoring task and the video- production activity became publications Willmott CJR (2014, in press) Teaching bioethics via the production of student-generated videos Journal of Biological Education Willmott CJR and Wellens J (2004) Teaching about bioethics through authoring of websites Journal of Biological Education 39:27-31
  50. 50. Two opportunities: two papers Both papers included: • Practical advice on running similar task • Pre- and post-intervention surveys. Self-reporting - knowledge of bioethics - interest in bioethics - knowledge of web-authoring/film-making - interest in web-authoring/film-making • Example feedback demonstrating student satisfaction • Web-paper included analysis of topics identified as involving bioethics before/after • Video paper noted student-generated films available to public = “Students as Producers”
  51. 51. Checklist • Is your activity readily adaptable for use by others? - check it is not entirely context-dependent • Is your activity well described? - good innovations often poorly explained • Is it in right format for the journal? - check house style rules • Is there anything similar/identical in literature? - check for existing work • Is there some evaluation? - needs to be SOME, even if not extensive
  52. 52. “I haven’t got any evidence” • Likely that you are actually already sitting on a gold-mine of potentially interesting data, e.g. - Exam performance? - Module review and feedback forms? - Completion rates? First destination data? • Quantitative data? • Qualitative data? • Triangulation?* http://www.rumrill.net/brian/pics/pics5/pics5/DarthVader/darth_vader_closeup.jpg * Triangulation = synthesising evidence of different types and from different sources, in order to arrive at conclusions
  53. 53. Collect evidence • Develop your own portfolio of evidence - Electronic? Physical? Both? • Valuable for: - Publications - Professional accreditation - Promotions
  54. 54. Evidence, what evidence? • In addition to the items detailed above, keep a conscious look out for • Emails? - From students? - From colleagues? • Corridor conversations? - Capture as soon as you can, verbatim if possible - Ask to repeat in an email • Formal peer evaluations?
  55. 55. “I’m worried about my data” • Started evaluation? • Spotted how you may have done something better? • Don’t panic, it may not be fatal • Can’t ‘do that extra experiment’ • Be honest, be self-critical • “Warts and all” www.generalmonck.com/biography.htm
  56. 56. Ethical approval • Increasingly likely to require approval • Research involving human subjects • Straightforward, generally uncontroversial “light touch” • Find out how approval process works in you HEI
  57. 57. Current issues/ Horizon scanning • Students as Partners? • Flipped classroom? • Emerging technologies? • Research-led teaching? Plus old chestnuts • Feedback • Assessment
  58. 58. Developing your own projects Chance now to reflect on possible publications • Is there anything you are already doing that could be turned into a paper? • What additional things would you need to make it publishable (e.g. evaluation)? • Is there anything you could develop next academic year? Maybe planning over summer? • Willing to share? • Collaboration? Use in more than 1 institution supports case activity is generalisable
  59. 59. Other publication • Blogs? - about pedagogy? - as a specific resource? • Slideshare? • OERs? • Conference presentations? - HEA STEM? - HEA Annual? - Institutional T&L events? - Education section of Learned Society?
  60. 60. Conference publication • Conference presentations sometimes collated into official “proceedings”, considered relatively low-grade publication due to lack of peer-review • Selected talks sometimes included in Special Issue of journal
  61. 61. Community of Practice? Actual communities: • Learning and Teaching at institution? • PedR group in the discipline? • Conferences Virtual communities: • Become active in online conversations e.g. HEABIO-PEDR list https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/
  62. 62. Summary • Getting started in Education Research publication may not be as much of a stretch as you imagine • Start with ways to turn something you are already doing into a paper by adding some (albeit minimal) evaluation • If unlikely to have enough for a “full paper” try for a Short Communication/Case Study/Illumination • Be active in pedagogy in other ways: conferences, blogs, discussion lists
  63. 63. Any questions? E-mail: cjrw2@le.ac.uk Twitter: cjrw Slideshare: cjrw2 Delicious: chriswillmott Blogs: www.bioethicsbytes.wordpress.com www.biosciencecareers.wordpress.com www.lefthandedbiochemist.wordpress.com University of Leicester