Authentic learning, emerging technologies and graduate attributes: Experiences of South African social work educators.

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Internationally, there has been increasing concern by educators regarding developing graduate attributes such as critical scholarship, citizenship and lifelong learning to prepare students as agents …

Internationally, there has been increasing concern by educators regarding developing graduate attributes such as critical scholarship, citizenship and lifelong learning to prepare students as agents of social good dealing with the complexity and uncertainty of the twenty-first century (Barnett, 2004). Conventionally, universities have used constructive alignment (Biggs, 2012) as a means of embedding graduate attributes such as the development of critical and reflective skills into the curriculum. However, the possibility of applying the nine principles of authentic learning (Herrington, Reeves, & Oliver, 2010) within the social work curriculum to facilitate the development of graduate attributes, has not been fully explored in the higher education or social work (SW) education literature. This paper addresses this gap in the literature by examining how the use of authentic learning principles by social work educators could lead to desired graduate attributes for students. In investigating the potential that authentic learning may have for developing graduate attributes SW education, this paper draws on in-depth interviews about authentic learning which were conducted with five South African SW educators from three differently placed higher education institutions. These interviews were part of a larger national study, which investigated the role that emerging technologies (ET) >Veletsianos, 2011) can play in improving teaching and learning in higher education. The transcripts of the interviews were analysed by the authors to establish whether or not authentic learning principles identified by Herrington et al. (2010) and ETs have the potential to develop desired graduate attributes in students. The findings revealed not all nine elements of authentic learning and ET existed in the case studies.

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  • 1. Emerging technologies, authentic learning and graduate attributes Joint World Conference on Social Work, Education and Social Development 2014 - Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre Roshini Pillay – 11 July 2014 Authentic learning principles can lead to the achievement of valuable beings and doings for social work graduates - Bozalek
  • 2. Structure of the Paper The SA context The NRF Project Social work education Social Work graduate attributes Emerging technologies Authentic learning Methodology Findings Conclusions and recommendations
  • 3. The National Research Fund Project Aim of the project was : ● To investigate whether and how qualitative outcomes in education could be realised through the use of emerging technologies to transform teaching and learning interactions in South African Higher Education sector ● 8 SA HEIs (SU, UWC, UCT, CTUP, UP, Rhodes, Wits, Fort Hare) ● 1 NGO (Open Courseware Consortium) ● NRF project of 22 universities
  • 4. Social work teaching practices in SA  Teacher-centred, lecture based, transmission teaching models (Amory, 2012; Bozalek, et al.,2013)  Historically a casework focus adopted in social work education (Gray, & Mazibuko, 2002)  Post-apartheid transformation to a social developmental paradigm (Nicholas, et al. 2011)  Social work a scarce skill (Earle, 2008)  Eucators are required to : -teach diverse students with the same amount of resources (Collins, 2012; Maistry, 2012) -prepare students with 21st Century skills(Barnett, 2006) -use multiple methods to support teaching and learning (Teater, 2011) -stimulate a caring ethos to society (Walker & McLean, 2010; Maistry, 2012) -add imaginative and creative aspects to course design (Bozalek, et al, 2013)
  • 5. Social Work Graduate Attributes • Identify as a professional social worker • Apply social work ethical principles and values • Apply critical thinking to inform and communicate professional judgements • Engage diversity and difference in practice • Advance human rights, development, social cohesion, collective responsibility and social and economic justice • Engage in research-informed practice and practice informed research • Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver social work services • Engage, assess, intervene and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organisations, and communities to address life challenges and enhance well- being (Bogo.2006;http://ifsw.org/get-involved/global-definition-of-social-work/)
  • 6. South African Qualifications Authority (2012): BSW Social work students should be • Critical reflective thinkers and able to practise within the value perspective of the social work profession • Work within teams including social work teams, multi and interdisciplinary teams as well multisectoral teams • To work within the ethical parameters of social work education, training and practice- learners must be registered with the SACSSP (South African Council for Social Service Professions) as student social workers South African Qualifications Authority (2009)
  • 7. Characteristics of Emerging Technologies (ET)  They are new to the specific context or are used in a new way  They are used in ways that are evolving and not well-established  They go through hype cycles of inflated expectation and disillusionment followed by realistic adoption or abandonment  They are not fully understood or maturely researched  Have the potential to transform educational practices  ET creates shifts in the locus of control or the balances of power in higer education (Veletsianos,2010)
  • 8. Methodology  An exploratory qualitative study using a case study method  Selected and examined 5 case studies of social work educators  The data was subjected to the 9 elements of authentic learning and graduate attributes using thematic content analysis (Herrington, Reeves, & Oliver, 2010;Walker & McLean, 2010)  The three members of the research team independently analysed the studies
  • 9. Herrington, Reeves, & Oliver, (2010) 1. Contexts that reflects the way knowledge is used in real life 2. Provides authentic task 3. Provides access to expert performances & modeling of processes 4. Provides multiple roles & perspectives 5. Supports collaborative construction of knowledge 6. Promotes reflection to enable constructions to be formed 7. Promotes articulation to make tacit knowledge explicit 8. Provides coaching and scaffolding by educator 9. Provides for authentic assessment for learning within the tasks Elements of Authentic learning Context-Real world Task-ill defined Expert performance Collaborative construction Reflection Integrated assessment Articulation - polished product Multiple roles & perspectives Coaching and scaffolding
  • 10. Educator Gender Type of HEI Course Year of study Types of tech Authentic Learning (9 elements) Graduate Attributes 1.AVB (PhD) Man Historically advantaged Planned change process 1st you tube videos LMS- Blackboard, e- journals 3 Critical thinking, reflection, ethics 2.VB (PhD) Woman Historically disadvantage d Woman’s Health and Well-being Post graduate Wikis, email, video conferencing 7 Critical thinking, reflection, ethics, social justice 3.FB (MA) Woman Historically disadvantage d Interviewin g Skill Practice 2nd Podcasts 5 Critical thinking, reflection, ethics 4.NH (PhD) Man Historically disadvantage d Ethics Course 3rd Podcasts, LMS 5 Critical thinking, reflection, ethics, social justice 5.JR (MA) Man Historically disadvantage d Collaborati ve research report 4th Face Book, Skype, internal server- Vdrive/ virtual library 6 Critical thinking, reflection, ethics Findings
  • 11. Authentic Learning(AL):Findings . AL 1. Context 2A. Task 3. Expert Thinking 4. Multiple Roles 5. Collaboration 6. Reflection 7. Articulation 8. Coaching 9. Assessment 1. AVB ✓ X ✓ X X ✓ X X X 2. VB ✓ X ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ X ✓ ✓ 3. FB ✓ X ✓ ✓ X ✓ X ✓ X 4. NH ✓ X ✓ X X ✓ X ✓ ✓ 5. JR ✓ X ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ X ✓ X
  • 12. Voices of the educators AvB: ‘… when students learn that they’re able to begin to, I suppose in a sense it’s the transfer of learning from one context or environment to another. It encourages them to link the learning across different life contexts, professional and personal is probably my key focus. But even from a more reflective piece to a more academic piece and students seem to be able to make those kinds of links’ FB:’So I think the recordings really helped a lot with the reflection’ NH:… that students integrate the theory through chatting and through exploring, discussion with ethical dilemmas
  • 13. Conclusion Social work graduates need to be educated for an uncertain future to make a living as critical citizens (Barnett, 2004; Maistry,2012) Future research  The views of students  More in-depth case studies  Goodness of fit - graduate attributes, authentic learning and technology enhanced learning
  • 14. Blogspot- emerging technologies http://emergingicts.blogspot.com/2011/12/emergi ng-technologies-in-sa-heis.html Download this publication from our blog
  • 15. References Amory, A. (2012). Tool-mediated authentic learning in an education technology course: a design -based innovation Interactive Learning Environments Barnett , R. (2004). Learning for an unknown future. Higher Education Research & Development, 23(3), 247-260. Bogo, M., Regehr, C.,Logie, C., Katz, E., Mylopoulos, M.,Regehr, G. (2011). Adapting objective structured clinical examinations to assess social work students’ performance and reflections. Journal of Social Work Education,47)1, 5-17. Bozalek, V., et al. (2013). "The use of emerging technologies for authentic learning: A South African study in higher education." British Journal of Educational technologies 44: 629-638. Gray, M., & Mazibuko, F. (2002). Social work in South Africa at the dawn of the new millennium. International Journal of Social Work, 11, 191-200. Earle, N. (2008). Social Work as a Scarce and Critical Profession. Pretoria: Department of Labour. Herrington, J, Reeves, TC,& Oliver, R. (2010) A guide to authentic e-learning. New York, Routledge. Maistry, M. (2012). Community Engagement, Service Learning and Student Social Responsibility: Implications for Social work Education at South African Universities: A Case Study of the University of Fort Hare. Social Work/ Maatskaplike Werk, 48(2), 142- 158. Osman, R., & Petersen, N. (2010). Students' Engagement with Engagement: The Case of Teacher Education Students in Higher Education in South Africa. British Journal of Educational Studies, 58(4), 407-419. South African Qualifications Authority (2009). Registered Qualification: Bachelor of Social Work. Pretoria. ID No 23994. Teater, B. (2011). Maximizing Student Learning: A Case Example of applying Learning and Teaching in Social Work Education. Social Work Education, 1, 1-15. Veletsianos, G. (2010). Emerging Technologies in Distance Learning. Edmonton, AU Press. Walker, M., & McLean, M. (2010). Making Lives go better: University Education and 'professional capabilities'. SAJHE, 24(5), 847-869.
  • 16. Ngiyabonga roshini.pillay@wits.ac.za