Trials and tribunals: consensus seeking in the approval of course design
in Higher Education

Richard Pountney
Sheffield H...
Research Questions
Research Question
1. What are the characteristics of the
teaching practices that have helped to shape
t...
Key concepts from the literature
Curriculum as an idea in practice
PRODUCT

INDIVIDUALISED

INTERACTIONAL

Curriculum infl...
Conceptual Framework
•

•

•

Critical realism as an ontological perspective: the key concept of emergence is
discussed an...
Empirical Stages

Time

Lived
curriculum

Intended
curriculum

Course
Approval

Enacted
curriculum

Phase 3: APE
Phase 2: ...
Data Collection Phases
Phase 1: Case Study of cross-institution curriculum sharing (CS1)
Purpose: to explore characteristi...
Sharing and making open the curriculum
Module/ Type of material

Pedagogical
Units
12 units (2
hours each)

Pedagogical Ac...
Course documentation

UG

Politics

1

31

170

52,000

2,700

CPT2

Geography, Housing,
Environment and Planning

UG

Env...
Analytical stages in the study
Thematic analysis of the data
Concept and field position

‘Collegially focused’ field
position

‘Bureaucratically focused’...
Examples from the coding scheme
Code
1.2 Curriculum
[category set]

Description
This set of codes identifies issues
relate...
Strong classification and framing for course design
and approval
Concept
Stronger
Classification (+C)
- boundaries
between...
Classification (C)
Concept manifested
– Strength of
Indicators
boundaries between

Example quotes
from empirical data

Fra...
Manifestation of positional and relational autonomy
of course design and approval
Theoretical
concept

Degree of emphasis ...
POSITIONAL AUTONOMY (PA)
Concept Manifested –
Indicators
Emphasis on:

Curriculum

RELATIONAL AUTONOMY (RA)
Concept Manife...
Vignettes chosen to represent key themes and
significant moments in the study
Story

Author

Group

The string bag

Angela...
Typology of field positions and orientations for the
course design and approval process
Factor
Collegial focus
Bureaucrati...
Semantic codes for knowledge in the
curriculum

Shay 2012, based on Maton, 2011: 66
19
Projections of the Approval Event
Lived curriculum

Time

Intended
curriculum

Pre-approval

Course
Approval

Post-approva...
The effects of quality
Institution

Collegiality

Bureaucracy
QA

QE
Individualism

Compliance

Individual
A typology of transformation
Transform +

Closed

New and shared

Transfer -

Transfer +
Morphostasis

Replicated

Transfo...
A schema for curriculum authority
Coherence based on evaluation
Idealised
curriculum

Authority

Coherence based on modell...
Mapping of the findings
1

2

PRACTICE

Pre-approval
PA+/RA-

3

Post-approval

PA-/RA-

PA+/RA-

4

External language
of ...
Dynamic coherence model of curriculum enactment
POWER

Institution
(UAP)

Material /
Technical

CONTROL

Evaluation
(conte...
Trials and tribunals: consensus seeking in the approval of course design in Higher Education
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Trials and tribunals: consensus seeking in the approval of course design in Higher Education

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Presentation at the LCT UK Symposium at Sheffield Hallam University, 2 December 2013.

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  • that there are struggles within disciplines and these not only in contested knowledge but also the forms of knowledge.
  • Trials and tribunals: consensus seeking in the approval of course design in Higher Education

    1. 1. Trials and tribunals: consensus seeking in the approval of course design in Higher Education Richard Pountney Sheffield Hallam University 2 December 2013
    2. 2. Research Questions Research Question 1. What are the characteristics of the teaching practices that have helped to shape the educational beliefs and values that academics bring to curriculum design in higher education? 2. What are the characteristics of course planning practices in a UK higher education institution and how are curricular forms generated? Case CS1: Crossinstitution (n=10) Case Study in curriculum sharing CS2 Part 1: Single institution Case Study in curriculum design Methods Discussion groups Interviews Course design texts 3. What are the characteristics of curriculum approval practices in a UK higher education institution, and how do academics interpret and respond to this in reproducing the curriculum? CS2 Part 2: Single institution Case Study in curriculum approval Interviews Course design texts APE observations Interviews Course design texts
    3. 3. Key concepts from the literature Curriculum as an idea in practice PRODUCT INDIVIDUALISED INTERACTIONAL Curriculum influences PEDAGOGIC IDENTITY TRADITIONAL PROCESS ACADEMIC DEVELOPMENT EMPLOYABILITY CULTURE EMERGING SOCIALISATION SOCIAL PRACTICE Organising principles INTENDED QUALITY DISCIPLINE PLANNING / DESIGN HIDDEN LIVED COLLABORATION ASSESSMENT STUDENTS COHERENCE Evaluation Modelling OPEN
    4. 4. Conceptual Framework • • • Critical realism as an ontological perspective: the key concept of emergence is discussed and Archer’s morphogenetic cycle is outlined. Social realism as an epistemological perspective and explanatory framework: Bourdieu’s practice theory and the key concepts of field, habitus and doxa are explained. Bernstein’s code concepts, including the pedagogic device, are introduced and their value to the study is identified. This theory is extended to include Maton’s Legitimation Code Theory (LCT) and its epistemic pedagogic device and codes (specialisation, semantics and autonomy). Institutional rationality as an organising framework: drawing on institutional rationality in relation to the legitimation of curriculum authority and expertise. This is then examined from the perspective of autonomy and the key concepts of collegiality, bureaucracy and consensus are identified as the organising framework for the empirical work of this study. Meta-theories, theories and substantive theories (Maton, 2013a: 15)
    5. 5. Empirical Stages Time Lived curriculum Intended curriculum Course Approval Enacted curriculum Phase 3: APE Phase 2: Single Institution Case Study Phase 1: Cross-institution Case Study APE = Approval Panel Event
    6. 6. Data Collection Phases Phase 1: Case Study of cross-institution curriculum sharing (CS1) Purpose: to explore characteristics of the collegially focused culture for course design Method: discussion groups, interviews, and course design texts Participants: 12 teachers (social science) from 10 UK HEI in two groups: Group A: the ‘Sharers’ - 6 teachers (A1-A6) from 6 UK HE institutions (I1-I6) exploring making their course designs ‘open’ Group B: the ‘Cascaders’ - 6 teachers (B1-B6) from 3 UK HE institutions (I7-I9B) exploring the use of the course designs ‘of others’ Phase 2: Case Study in an institutional context (CS2 part 1) Purpose: to explore characteristics of the bureaucratically focused culture for course design Method: interviews, course design texts, Participants: 16 teachers from 1 UK HEI (I10) in two groups: Group C: the ‘Approved’ - 9 teachers (C1-C9) from 7 courses (CPT4-11) exploring the course design and approval process Group D: the ‘Approval seekers’ - 7 teachers (D1-D7) from 3 course teams (CPT1,2,3) in 1 UK HE institution (I10) exploring the process of course approval Phase 3: Case Study in an institutional context (CS2 part 1) Purpose: to explore characteristics of the consensus-seeking focused culture for course design Method: interviews, course design texts, observations of approval events Participants: 17 teachers from 1 UK HEI (I10) in two groups Group D: the ‘Approval seekers’ - 7 teachers (D1-D7) from 3 course teams (CPT1,2,3) in 1 UK HE institution (I10) exploring the process of course approval Group E: the ‘Approvers’ - 10 teachers (E1-E10) exploring the experience of ‘approving’ courses
    7. 7. Sharing and making open the curriculum Module/ Type of material Pedagogical Units 12 units (2 hours each) Pedagogical Activity Assessment lectures; learning activities; tutorials; exercises; readings 2 tasks: Essay (50%), Examination (50%) OER_03: Exploring Religions and Cultures (20 credits) [module handbook] 15 units (2 hours each) Lectures; learning activities; 2 tasks: Portfolio (50%); discussion; comparison; Critical review (50%) revision; thinking questions; readings OER_04: Sociology of Health and Illness (10 credits) [module outline, lecture slides] OER_05: Sociology of Human Reproduction (10 credits) [module outline, lecture slides] OER_06: Gender and Society (10 credits) [module outline, lecture slides, reflection sheet] OER_07: Comparative Sociology (10 credits) [module outline, lecture slides] 8 units (2 hours each) 9 units (2 hours each) 9 units (2 hours each) Lectures; guided discussion; readings 1 task: Essay (100%) Lectures; guided discussion; readings 1 task: Examination (100%) Lectures; guided discussion; readings 3 tasks: Learning diary (60%), Essay (10%); Essay (30%) 9 units (2 hours each) Lectures; guided discussion; readings 1 task: Examination (100%) OER_01: Visual Anthropology (20 credits) [module handbook, lecture slides, video] http://learning-connections.co.uk/csap_oer/csap_toolkit/mapping.html 7
    8. 8. Course documentation UG Politics 1 31 170 52,000 2,700 CPT2 Geography, Housing, Environment and Planning UG Environment and Planning 7 76 517 154,000 4,300 CPT3 English Language Teaching PG English 1 7 63 16,000 2,400 CPT4 Social Science Research PG Social Science 7 9 76 23,000 3,700 CPT5 Autism UG Education 1 6 55 16,000 2,200 CPT6 Education PG Education 12 40 502 157,000 6,300 CPT7 Criminology UG Criminology 4 94 569 177,000 5,000 CPT8 Applied Social Science UG Social Science 13 136 724 218,000 8,800 CPT9 Performing Arts FD Performing Arts 2 10 106 28,000 2,000 CPT10 Built Environment UG Built Environment 9 81 574 164,000 7,500 CPT11 Contemporary Fine Art UG Fine Art 3 10 82 27,000 2,000 CPT12 Public Services: Policing Studies FD Social Science 2 15 146 42,000 9,100 Total Pages Course ..Rationale International Relations Total Words CPT1 Modules Subject Area / Discipline Awards Course Title Level Course Team 8
    9. 9. Analytical stages in the study
    10. 10. Thematic analysis of the data Concept and field position ‘Collegially focused’ field position ‘Bureaucratically focused’ field position ‘Consensus- seeking focused’ field position Description Coding categories sorted under the concept Features of the ‘collegially 1.1 Context focused’ culture as embodied by 1.2 Curriculum teachers prior experiences in 1.3 Teaching the ‘lived’ curriculum 1.4 Discipline 1.5 Exchange 1.6 Knowing 1.7 Description Features of the 2.1 Teacher identity ‘bureaucratically focused’ 2.2 Autonomy culture embodied by teachers’ 2.3 Pedagogy practices and dispositions in the 2.4 Curriculum development ‘intended / formal’ curriculum 2.5 Discipline 2.6 Approval 2.7 Metaphor Teachers’ experiences of and 3.1 Challenge responses to the meeting of the 3.2 Consensus collegial and bureaucratic focus 3.3 Conflict culture in the Approval process 3.4 Strategy (including pedagogical 3.5 Expertise adjustments and identity 3.6 Coherence conflicts) 3.7 Change
    11. 11. Examples from the coding scheme Code 1.2 Curriculum [category set] Description This set of codes identifies issues related to curriculum 1.2.1 Lived / informal [category sub code] Responses coded as informal / lived curriculum and formal / intended curriculum 1.2.2 Intended / formal [category sub code] What teachers say about the formal curriculum 1.3 Teaching [category set] This category codes statements that teachers make about teaching 1.3.1 Teacher role [category sub code] Coding of data related to teacher role 1.3.2 Experience [category sub code] Coding of data related to the experience of teaching Example quote from data ‘It was really around one of the Housing & Planning modules where we realised that we hadn’t exchanged our practice within the department so we began to get a debate going about that ...’ ‘I think I pretty much used the content of what I had been doing before but the advantages to it becoming a module I think were first of all that we got a timetabled slot and that meant that students took it more seriously ...’ ‘The module in the first, when we first put it forward for the reapproval, was pretty much the module that had run in the old form. However very close to it being revalidated it was suddenly thought “could this module be rolled out across the whole programme?”’ ‘Lectures were very clearly about putting as much information on the slides as I possibly could so that if I didn’t deliver the material appropriately the students still had it because it was written.’ ‘It was literally “you’ve been hired and we want you to deliver these 5 modules. Here they are, go and deliver them.” I was literally a week ahead of the students’ ‘I was preparing the material for next week the week before and I was reading and adjusting and adapting because, although the material was very good, I couldn’t just pick it up and deliver it because I didn’t know the background to it’.
    12. 12. Strong classification and framing for course design and approval Concept Stronger Classification (+C) - boundaries between Degree of emphasis in course on: Everyday and educational knowledges (specialised) Different forms of educational knowledge in a curriculum Selecting content knowledge Stronger Framing (+F) -control over Sequencing and pacing the teaching of content knowledge Making evaluative criteria explicit Regulating the teacher’s conduct in pedagogical relationship Specialist curriculum knowledge (including academic development) is emphasised in the design and approval of courses (as opposed to general experience of teaching in HE) Discipline knowledge is downplayed as the basis for knowledge in the curriculum (as opposed to those genericised forms specified externally) Curriculum content knowledge is determined by the syllabus (documented forms) (as opposed to being selected by the teacher ad hoc) The organisation and structure of the curriculum is set by the institution rather than the teacher The form and focus of assessment is controlled by the institution rather than the teacher The teacher’s conduct is regulated by the institution via a hierarchy (authority for approving courses resides in institution)
    13. 13. Classification (C) Concept manifested – Strength of Indicators boundaries between Example quotes from empirical data Framing (F) Concept manifested – Degree of teacher control in: selecting content knowledge ‘It wasn’t until I had to write my validation document that I realised that module documents really meant anything’ ‘What has become apparent over time is how crucial an understanding of these concepts is to how students learn’ sequencing and pacing the teaching of content knowledge +C Knowledge gained in developing one’s own subject content is of little relevance in approving the subject content of others ‘It doesn’t help when someone who specialises in astrophysics is telling you what to do in a subject they know nothing about’ making evaluative criteria explicit -C Knowledge gained in developing one’s own subject content is highly relevant to approving the subject content of others Different forms of educational knowledge in a curriculum +C General experience of teaching in higher education is little valued in the course approval context -C General experience of teaching in higher education is highly valued in the course approval context Everyday and educational knowledges (specialised) ‘I feel that having led the development of my own courses and being part of a number of revalidation panels that I am able to spot the weaknesses, and advise others’ regulating the teacher’s conduct in pedagogical relationship Note: +/- indicates ‘stronger/weaker’ Indicators Example quotes from empirical data +F Content knowledge is ‘Students should be able to have a determined mainly by the syllabus clear understanding of what is (documented forms). going to be taught, and this should be based on the whim or research hobby of the teacher’ -F Teachers are able to select ‘we had developed a set of lectures content for themselves given by well known names and this was filmed and played to the students each year’ +F Elements of the curriculum are ‘Developing students who are mandated by the institution employable is a key driver for this university. It makes sense to have work-related and work-based learning activities in key modules’ -F The sequencing and/or pacing ‘I guess there are lots of ways to of learning is mainly determined do it [employability] and lots of by the teacher ways that students can bring it into their assignments. It’s more of a theme than content itself’ +F The institution makes ‘It’s very clear that students are evaluative criteria clear and being over-assessed and that for explicit to teachers some students it is all essay, essay, essay ....’ -F Evaluative criteria are open‘I need to make sure that students ended and interpreted by teachers really engage with the module so I include a work diary as a extra element that they have to hand in. That way I know they’ve done it’ +F A strong hierarchy is ‘What we want to do is make the maintained between institution expectations of [tutor] contact and teacher time clearer to students. And this needs to be a number of hours at specified times’ -F A weak hierarchy exists ‘it’s a joint partnership [between between institution and teacher the teacher and the university] ... you know, the people that I work with are professional adult educators so I learn from them, they learn from me.’
    14. 14. Manifestation of positional and relational autonomy of course design and approval Theoretical concept Degree of emphasis on: Curriculum Stronger Positional Autonomy (PA+) Pedagogy Assessment Curriculum Stronger Relational Autonomy (RA+) Pedagogy Assessment Teacher determines the basis for forms of content knowledge Teaching of content knowledge based on established ‘repertoire’ (habitus) (rather than new practice) Evaluative criteria aligned with teachers’ (rather than the institution’s or external) needs Discipline is the basis for forms of content knowledge (rather than educational policy) Teaching of content knowledge based on disciplinary pedagogic (rather than economic or other factors’) needs Evaluative criteria aligned to meet disciplinary pedagogical (as opposed to external factors such as economy) needs
    15. 15. POSITIONAL AUTONOMY (PA) Concept Manifested – Indicators Emphasis on: Curriculum RELATIONAL AUTONOMY (RA) Concept Manifested – Indicators Emphasis on: Teacher determines the basis for forms of content knowledge Discipline is the basis for forms of content knowledge Example quotes from empirical data in this study PA+ Discipline emphasised as ‘there were essential determining form of topics that we knew we legitimate educational had to cover, and knowledge we’ve included these for a number of years’ PA- Discipline downplayed as less important in defining legitimate educational knowledge Pedagogy Teaching of content knowledge based on teacher’s repertoire / habitus ‘there are areas of the curriculum that all courses must cover, regardless of whether students become lawyers, or social workers’ PA+ Established techniques and strategies for teaching content knowledge emphasised as determining form of pedagogy ‘we had developed a set of lectures given by well known names and this was filmed and played to the students each year’ ‘ it’s what works and is effective rather than any particular pedagogic model’ PA- Established techniques and strategies for teaching content knowledge downplayed as significantly shaping form of pedagogy Assessment PA+ Evaluation of legitimacy of student performances resides in beliefs of individual teachers ‘exams are the only real way that you can test whether the students have learnt anything’ PA- Student performances are judged against shared criteria external to the teacher Evaluative criteria aligned with the needs of teachers ‘written assignments are better assessed blind-marked, so that you don’t know anything about the student ...’ NOTE: +/- indicates ‘stronger’ / ‘weaker’ RA+ Discipline emphasised as determining form of legitimate educational knowledge RA- External factors (such as economy) emphasised as determining form of legitimate educational knowledge Example quotes from empirical data in this study ‘the main thing was that you mentioned something about employability in the course design but no one ever really teaches it ...’ ‘it is important that the quality of course content is assured, without that students will not choose us ’ Evaluative criteria aligned to meet disciplinary pedagogical principles RA+ disciplinary pedagogical needs are emphasised as significantly shaping form of pedagogy ‘we knew we had to cover essential things like employability but we had no idea how these were taught’ RA- Economic and other factors are explicitly emphasised as determining form of pedagogy Teaching of content knowledge based on disciplinary pedagogic principles ‘it’s in work related learning, and work placement that students feel they get relevant learning and it’s what they enjoy’ RA+ Explicit and specific evaluative and procedural criteria are emphasised in judging student performances ‘when the student hands in work for assessment they need to know who to give it to and when it will be marked and returned’ ‘the problem with giving students timely feedback is that all they care about is the mark, not what they could do better next time’ RA- Explicit and specific evaluative and procedural criteria are downplayed as not significant in judging student performances
    16. 16. Vignettes chosen to represent key themes and significant moments in the study Story Author Group The string bag Angela A: Sharers Chap Possible themes /metaphors ter 5.2.5 Embodying practice/text The living gateway David B: Cascaders 5.3.3 Translating practice/text The reversible coat Cathy D: Approval seekers 6.2.5 Recontextualising practice/text The magic sentence Susan E: Approvers The forgotten map Alison D: Approval seekers 7.3.4 Remembering practice/text The divining rod Rhianna E: Approvers 6.4.3 Regulating practice/text 7.4.4 Foretelling practice/text
    17. 17. Typology of field positions and orientations for the course design and approval process Factor Collegial focus Bureaucratic focus Consensus seeking focus Curriculum design Coherence Heuristic modelling Evaluative Contextual Autonomy PA+ / RAPA- / RACode clash Knowledge ER+ / SRER- / SR+ Code clash specialisation (knowledge code) (knower code) Semantic variation SG+ / SDSG- / SD+ Code clash Pedagogical design Pedagogical model Competence Performance Performance-based Pedagogic code Collection Integrated Mixed Pedagogic identity Therapeutic De-centred market Schizoid Evaluation (basis and criteria of establishing the worth of the curriculum) Exchange Pedagogic ‘goods’ Marketable ‘goods’ Approved ‘goods’ Peer Review Horizontal Hierarchical Mixed Authority Collegial Bureaucratic Rules-based Decision making Collaborative Co-operative Discretionary Expertise Mutual and reciprocal Disciplinary Technical Collegial Predominantly Intermediate Variable organisation collegiate collegiate
    18. 18. Semantic codes for knowledge in the curriculum Shay 2012, based on Maton, 2011: 66 19
    19. 19. Projections of the Approval Event Lived curriculum Time Intended curriculum Pre-approval Course Approval Post-approval A B C Enacted curriculum Phase 3: APE Phase 2: Single Institution Case Study APE = Approval Panel Event Focal Points (A = final approval, B = delivery, C = review)
    20. 20. The effects of quality Institution Collegiality Bureaucracy QA QE Individualism Compliance Individual
    21. 21. A typology of transformation Transform + Closed New and shared Transfer - Transfer + Morphostasis Replicated Transform -
    22. 22. A schema for curriculum authority Coherence based on evaluation Idealised curriculum Authority Coherence based on modelling Expertise Autonomy Consensus
    23. 23. Mapping of the findings 1 2 PRACTICE Pre-approval PA+/RA- 3 Post-approval PA-/RA- PA+/RA- 4 External language of description Case Study ] Lived curriculum Autonomy Intended curriculum [ Phase 1: Cross-institution Time A Course Approval B C Enacted curriculum 5 Phase 3: APE Phase 2: Single Institution Case Study Doc packing up SGSD unpacking SG SD Doc Documentation 6 Semantics Doc 7 Approval Curricula Specialisation Applied theory ER-/SR+ ER-/SR+ ER-/SR+ Q4 (SG-/SD+) Professional ER+/SR+ ER-/SR+ ER+/SR+ Q3 (SG+/SD+) Practical ER-/SR+ ER-/SR+ ER-/SR+ Q2 (SG+/SD-) OR-/DR+ PRODUCTION SubR-/IR+ RECONTEXTUALISATION 8 REPRODUCTION
    24. 24. Dynamic coherence model of curriculum enactment POWER Institution (UAP) Material / Technical CONTROL Evaluation (contextual) Approval Event Final approval A Delivery B Review C Curriculum Knowledge (C / F) Boundaries Control  Specialised  Discipline VISIBLE  Curriculum  Pedagogy  Assessment External language of description Stasis Discipline / Individual Moral / Pedagogic Modelling (conceptual) Iteration E Purpose D Experiment F INVISIBLE (Re-)Design CERTAIN UNCERTAIN

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