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Research in the Wild

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Research in the Wild: Principles for Successful Practitioner Research from the Inter/National Coalition for Electronic Portfolio Research, a presentation at Researching and Evaluating Personal Development Planning and e-Portfolios, Oxford Belfry, Oxfordshire, England, October 10, 2006

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Research in the Wild

  1. 1. Research in the Wild: Principles for Successful Practitioner Research from the Inter/National Coalition for Electronic Portfolio Research Darren Cambridge George Mason University
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>History </li></ul><ul><li>Findings </li></ul><ul><li>Campus principles </li></ul><ul><li>Coalition principles </li></ul>
  3. 3. Coalition Exigency <ul><li>Rapid growth in use of electronic portfolios in the United States </li></ul><ul><li>Wide diversity of models </li></ul><ul><li>Considerable potential to impact learning and engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence uneven and unintegrated </li></ul>
  4. 4. Coalition Structure <ul><li>Inter/National Coalition for Electronic Portfolio Research established in 2003 </li></ul><ul><li>Led by Barbara Cambridge (AAHE/NCTE), Kathleen Yancey (Clemson/FSU), Darren Cambridge (EDUCAUSE/GMU) </li></ul><ul><li>Three cohorts of about ten campuses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cohort One, 2003-2006 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cohort Two, 2004-2007 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cohort Three, 2006-2009 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cohort Four, 2006- </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Coalition Activities <ul><li>Individual questions and collaborative themes </li></ul><ul><li>Two meetings a year </li></ul><ul><li>Blog, newsletter, and monthly chats </li></ul><ul><li>Interaction between cohorts </li></ul><ul><li>Consultations with Coalition leadership </li></ul><ul><li>Coordinated dissemination </li></ul>
  6. 6. Cohort One Members <ul><li>Alverno College (MI) </li></ul><ul><li>Bowling Green (OH) </li></ul><ul><li>IUPUI (IN) </li></ul><ul><li>LaGuardia Community College (NY) </li></ul><ul><li>Northern Illinois (IL) </li></ul><ul><li>Portland State University (OR) </li></ul><ul><li>Stanford University (CA) </li></ul><ul><li>Virginia Tech (VA) </li></ul><ul><li>University of Washington (WA) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Cohort Two Members <ul><li>Clemson University (SC) </li></ul><ul><li>George Mason University (VA) </li></ul><ul><li>Kapi’olani Community College (HI) </li></ul><ul><li>Ohio State University (OH) </li></ul><ul><li>St. Olaf College (MN) </li></ul><ul><li>Thomas College (NY) </li></ul><ul><li>University of Georgia (GA) </li></ul><ul><li>University of Illinois (IL) </li></ul><ul><li>University of Nebraska Omaha (NE) </li></ul><ul><li>University of Texas San Antonio (TX) </li></ul><ul><li>Washington State University (WA) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Cohort Three Members <ul><li>Arizona State University (AZ) </li></ul><ul><li>California State Universities (CA) </li></ul><ul><li>Framingham State University (MA) </li></ul><ul><li>George Mason University (VA) </li></ul><ul><li>IUPUI (IN) </li></ul><ul><li>University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (MA) </li></ul><ul><li>Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MN) </li></ul><ul><li>Penn State University (PN) </li></ul><ul><li>University of San Diego (CA) </li></ul><ul><li>Seaton Hall University (NJ) </li></ul><ul><li>Sheffield Hallam University (UK) </li></ul><ul><li>University of Waterloo (CA) </li></ul><ul><li>University of Wolverhampton (UK) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Cohort Three <ul><li>Focus on out-of-classroom learning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Co-curricular / extra-curricular </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Informal </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Collaboration between student affairs and academic affairs </li></ul><ul><li>International </li></ul>
  10. 10. Findings from One and Two <ul><li>Taking off and taking hold are both important, and attention to taking hold often leads to taking off (NIU; LaG; Thomas) </li></ul><ul><li>Re-iterating (as opposed to revising) a portfolio fosters development (from the LaGuardia study on reflection) </li></ul><ul><li>Scaffolding is a feature in some models, by design or to assist in transition and provides another kind of transparency characteristic of 21st century learning and teaching (IL; WA) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Findings (2) <ul><li>Inclusion of the self: portfolio as a site for multiple selves, and questions around the “facebook effect” (LaG, GA, and I/NCEPR Facebook group) </li></ul><ul><li>Portfolios as vehicles for bridging context: variation on the bio theme (Thomas) </li></ul><ul><li>Models of development in reflection applicable more widely? (Alverno, Portland State) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Findings (3) <ul><li>The circulation of portfolios seems to work best when F2F is included as well as the digital: embedding the eportfolio in a public presentation context fosters development (IL and LaG) </li></ul><ul><li>Competencies can play a heuristic, rather than normative, role (GMU and Kapi’olani) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Findings and Your Questions <ul><li>How might your research questions (and results) connect with these emergent findings? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How could you build on them? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How might you problematize them? </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Intra-campus Practices <ul><li>Diverse team </li></ul><ul><li>Space for forming </li></ul><ul><li>Narrow but open question </li></ul><ul><li>Balance between intellectual and pragmatic purposes </li></ul>
  15. 15. Diverse Team <ul><li>Both people who have research in their job title and those who don’t </li></ul><ul><li>Reflective of the range of people involved in portfolio practice on the campus </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Include administrators </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Include students </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Portland State: Administrators, students, faculty from multiple disciplines </li></ul>
  16. 16. Space for Forming <ul><li>Need sufficient time and space to develop </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shared expectations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shared conceptual framework </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Personal relationships within team </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Alverno: Frameworks for analyzing reflection drawn from faculty practice </li></ul>
  17. 17. Narrow but Open Question <ul><li>Well-focused research question </li></ul><ul><li>Openness to the data taking you elsewhere </li></ul><ul><li>Ohio State: Statewide mobility  focus on writing in urban schools </li></ul><ul><li>Stanford: Correlation to grades  detailed analysis of a single site to figure out why </li></ul>
  18. 18. Intellectual and Pragmatic Purposes <ul><li>Clear sense of audiences and purposes of research </li></ul><ul><li>Practitioner research doesn’t have to be just evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>Balance between what you need to justify your work and what’s intellectually meaningful </li></ul><ul><li>IUPUI: Linking “matrix thinking” to NSSE results </li></ul><ul><li>Washington: From contest to work with departments </li></ul>
  19. 19. Diversity and Balance <ul><li>Who might you ask to join your team you’ve not previously considered? </li></ul><ul><li>What aspects of your project can you expand or emphasize to balance intellectual and pragmatic value? </li></ul>
  20. 20. Inter-campus Practices <ul><li>Senior administrative support </li></ul><ul><li>Triangulation rather than replication </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborative exploration of methodologies </li></ul><ul><li>Regular conversations with neutral experts </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple genres of reporting out </li></ul>
  21. 21. Senior Administrative Support <ul><li>Three-year commitment of travel funding from institutional budget </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Confirmation of commitment to portfolio practice </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Regular updates and notes of thanks </li></ul><ul><li>Ideally, member of the team </li></ul>
  22. 22. Triangulation <ul><li>Triangulation rather than replication </li></ul><ul><li>Enough structure to focus and connect, but not restrict </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No one strict definition of “research” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shared themes but not a mandated research question </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Cohorts One and Two: Catalog and taxonomy of reflective artifacts </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Critical friends </li></ul>
  23. 23. Collaborative Exploration of Methodology <ul><li>Guided exploration of research methodologies and methods </li></ul><ul><li>Both a way to plan the project and a way to develop shared understanding of research </li></ul><ul><li>Breaking out of received notions of research through conversations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Across disciplines </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Across campuses </li></ul></ul>
  24. 24. Conversations with Experts <ul><li>Quarterly conference calls with a Coalition leader </li></ul><ul><li>Periodic occasions for reviewing and asking questions </li></ul><ul><li>The questioning is probably more important than the advice </li></ul>
  25. 25. Multiple Reporting Genres <ul><li>Variety of forms of reporting </li></ul><ul><ul><li>One-pagers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blue Skies questions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Thick descriptions of artifacts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Presentations of evidence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chats </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Helps to stimulate creativity and accommodate multiple styles </li></ul>
  26. 26. Making Connections <ul><li>Which other campuses represented here might you wish to make a connection with? </li></ul><ul><li>In what context? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The fourth cohort? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An ePortfolio system users’ group? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Somewhere else? </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Contact Information <ul><li>Darren Cambridge [email_address] +1-202-703-993-4318 </li></ul><ul><li>Inter/National Coalition Website http://ncepr.org/ncepr/drupal </li></ul>

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