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Quinn & vorster heltasa 2014

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This is the presentation by Lynn Quinn and Jo-Anne Vorster presented at the Heltasa annual conference at the Free State University in November 2014.

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Quinn & vorster heltasa 2014

  1. 1. Practising what we preach in a course on teaching for lecturers Lynn Quinn & Jo-Anne Vorster Heltasa 2014
  2. 2. Diversity • Range of institutional types • English not 1st language • Range of disciplinary qualifications (diploma to PhD) • Few have any teaching qualifications • Multiple fields and disciplines (Certificates to PhDs; practice-based, professional, academic) • Structural and cultural conditions of home institutions  influences kind of T & L
  3. 3. Contextual changes similar to those lecturers face … We emphasise the need to accommodate the diverse needs of students in the education process to ensure that it is “aligned with the students’ legitimate learning needs” (Scott 2009:10) Are we practicing what we preach?
  4. 4. Assessment • Struggling to enter alien discourse community • Need to demonstrate in writing enhanced practice through engagement with course processes Are we practicing what we preach and ensuring that participants are able to demonstrate their learning adequately in writing? Reflective tools (Stierer 2008) to better understand participants’ challenges. Key features of written discourse:
  5. 5. Criticality Reflexivity Praxis Critically reflexive practitioner
  6. 6. Criticality • Use ideas, theories and concepts from HES to think differently about their context and with a critical orientation • Reading of texts • Academic argument
  7. 7. Criticality • Difficulty in moving from summarising ideas in texts to reviewing ideas • Tendency to provide verbatim reproduction/plagiarism • Tend to draw from a narrow range of theories • Understand criticality to mean criticising or finding fault rather than evaluating, comparing, contrasting • Difficulty in constructing logical academic arguments (description rather than analysis)
  8. 8. Reflexivity “a growing recognition of the important relationship between self-awareness and learning, and between personal values and professional practice” (Stierer 2008:39)
  9. 9. Reflexivity • Reluctance to use ‘I’ and write in the active voice; • Avoid discussing practice; lack of confidence in practice • Difficult to critique practice without becoming defensive • Only able to describe contextual constraints • Intention to learn and shift practice not always evident • Anecdotes, storytelling and examples – difficulty in moving to principles • Tendency to be prescriptive or normative
  10. 10. “Academic practices are premised on conscious reflection on the ends, objects and means of activity (Anderson 1993) and involve forms of reasoning, analysis, modes of investigation and self reflection which enable the critical examination of established truths, taken-for-granted assumptions and knowledge handed down by tradition. Thus a truly responsive pedagogy must enable students to grasp the point of the practice and to develop the powers to work towards it” (Slonimsky & Shalem 2004:83)
  11. 11. Praxis: linking theory and practice Bringing together criticality and reflexivity Think and write about teaching and learning in ways which will lead to improved or transformed practice
  12. 12. Praxis • Difficulty in linking concepts, theories and ideas to their practice • Difficulty in understanding how various concepts form a complex structure of meaning (e.g. learning as both a social and an individual process) • Difficulty with ‘display writing’ and demonstrating a move away from commonsense understandings • Difficulty with structuring and effective movement between theory and practice in writing
  13. 13. The curriculum and the pedagogy of the course do not provide sufficient opportunities for all participants to develop the criticality, reflexivity and praxis required by the assessment of the course.
  14. 14. Curriculum & pedagogy for fostering criticality, reflexivity and praxis? • Each of these ways of engagement with theory and practice needs to be taught more explicitly, systematically, and separately (initially) to enable participants to integrate these processes in writing • Ensuring sufficient ‘time on task’ consistently across the course (Gibbs). • More explicit use of LCT: Semantics (Maton in Vorster & Quinn 2012)
  15. 15. Legitimation code theory: semantics Concepts of semantic gravity (SG) and semantic density (SD) to understand how we introduce theories and concepts SG: degree to which meaning relates to context (concrete/abstract) SD: degree to which meaning is condensed within symbols, so this is related to complexity (Maton in Vorster & Quinn 2012)
  16. 16. SG-SD+ SG+ SD-Abstract concepts/ common words used with their common meaning Real world examples/ common words used with their common meaning Abstract concepts/ specific brief terms or symbols Real world examples/ specific brief terms or symbols
  17. 17. Curriculum planning (teaching & assessment) • Consciously moving between higher and lower SD and weaker and stronger SG (sematic wave) • Ensure that students are developing deeper understanding of complex theories and concepts and are able to apply these to their contextual realities in meaningful ways • Require participants to constantly articulate understandings verbally and in writing and ensure constant feedback
  18. 18. “… unpacking and then repacking complex concepts” (Maton)
  19. 19. Changes in mode and pedagogy ‘Issue’ Ideas Much larger classes Tutorial groups (trained tutors & mentors) Week long contact sessions More writing and reading during contact sessions Little/no preparation prior to the contact sessions (less reading) Compulsory tasks in preparation for sessions (own practice as well as guided reading tasks) Less preparation between sessions (less reading) Compulsory scaffolded tasks for module assignment Peer and tutor feedback Less writing Much more writing focusing specifically on critique, reflexivity, praxis. Exemplars of writing Less feedback More feedback from facilitators, tutors and peers

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