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Insights into the dynamics between changing professional fields and teaching in higher education

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Insights into the dynamics between changing professional fields and teaching in higher education

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What counts as expert knowledge, and what is expected from knowledgeable practitioners are subject to continual change in professional fields. Consequently, professional education programmes are often challenged to ascertain their capacities to prepare “job-ready” graduates for such changing professional knowledge work. However, what is the nature of these changes and how they get incorporated into teaching and learning practices in university courses are rarely examined, so teachers running courses for professional education get little guidance about how it can be more clearly conceptualised, and done better. Our study focussed on “epistemic shifts” – observable changes in professional fields that bear on how professionals are expected to work with knowledge. We aimed to understand how recent epistemic shifts in specific professional fields were instantiated in assessment tasks in professional courses. We focussed on assessment tasks as these tasks give insights not only into what and how students learn, but also into what counts as “job-ready” graduates. Our detailed case studies came from five courses – in pharmacy, nursing, social work, school counselling and education. Our results show that the epistemic shifts varied in their transformative scale and in the ways they became incorporated in assessment tasks: from implicit incorporation of an ongoing flow of small shifts into established professional tasks, to introduction of new professional epistemic practices. The analytical framework we have constructed helps depict what is actually changing in students’ epistemic practices when assessment tasks are redesigned and what kinds of new epistemic capabilities students will consequently develop.

What counts as expert knowledge, and what is expected from knowledgeable practitioners are subject to continual change in professional fields. Consequently, professional education programmes are often challenged to ascertain their capacities to prepare “job-ready” graduates for such changing professional knowledge work. However, what is the nature of these changes and how they get incorporated into teaching and learning practices in university courses are rarely examined, so teachers running courses for professional education get little guidance about how it can be more clearly conceptualised, and done better. Our study focussed on “epistemic shifts” – observable changes in professional fields that bear on how professionals are expected to work with knowledge. We aimed to understand how recent epistemic shifts in specific professional fields were instantiated in assessment tasks in professional courses. We focussed on assessment tasks as these tasks give insights not only into what and how students learn, but also into what counts as “job-ready” graduates. Our detailed case studies came from five courses – in pharmacy, nursing, social work, school counselling and education. Our results show that the epistemic shifts varied in their transformative scale and in the ways they became incorporated in assessment tasks: from implicit incorporation of an ongoing flow of small shifts into established professional tasks, to introduction of new professional epistemic practices. The analytical framework we have constructed helps depict what is actually changing in students’ epistemic practices when assessment tasks are redesigned and what kinds of new epistemic capabilities students will consequently develop.

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Insights into the dynamics between changing professional fields and teaching in higher education

  1. 1. The University of Sydney Page 1 Insights into the dynamics between changing professional fields and teaching in higher educationLina Markauskaite and Peter Goodyear Acknowledgements: ARC Grant DP0988307 Dr Agnieszka Bachfischer Centre for Research on Learning and Innovation Earli Tampere, 2017
  2. 2. The University of Sydney Page 2 Today 1. Context 2. Intellectual roots 3. Study design 4. Results & few examples 5. Final notes Link to eBook
  3. 3. The University of Sydney Page 3 Dynamics in professional fields 20th century • Technical knowledge • Craftsmanship • Artistic creativity 21st century • Data-driven • Evidence-based • User-focused • Process-oriented • Collaborative… (After Nicol & Piling, 2000) http://www.yr-architecture.com/an-architects-expertise
  4. 4. The University of Sydney Page 4 Dynamics in professional fields “…There is a significant push, not only in Australia, but internationally, to reduce the amount of remuneration pharmacists receive for dispensing a medicine, and instead, remunerate them for improving quality use of medicines or health outcomes.” “So it’s a major paradigm shift within the profession.” “So it’s a different type of thinking…” (Pharmacy lecturer) Epistemic shifts – changes in how professionals are expected to work with knowledge
  5. 5. The University of Sydney Page 5 Questions 1. What kinds of recent epistemic shifts in professional fields were seen as important for preparing professionals? 2. How these shifts were instantiated in the concrete assessment tasks that students did in preparation for profession?
  6. 6. The University of Sydney Page 6 Expert cultures, practices and resourcefulness Individual resourcefulness & expertise Epistemic, knowledge-generating practices Professional fields & expert cultures
  7. 7. The University of Sydney Page 7 Theoretical perspective: Objectual practice We should look for foundations of enduring professional practices, discovery and innovation in objects and artefacts (After Nicolini, Mengis, & Swan, 2012)
  8. 8. The University of Sydney Page 8 Method: “Cognitive-cultural archaeology” Study design Professio ns Pharmacy Nursing Social work School counseling Education Sample 20 professional practice courses Data Course resources Interviews (1-3 per course) Methods Epistemic interviewing Thematic analysis Analysis of course designs How have assessments been redesigned over recent years? Procedure 1. Analysis of interviews 2. Identification of epistemic shifts 3. Tracing changes in assessment tasks One course per profession
  9. 9. The University of Sydney Page 9 Analytical categories Core epistemic aspects 1. Knowledge-base 2. Epistemic skills 3. Epistemic values (After Shulman’s “Signature pedagogies”, 2005) Epistemic relations to external environment 1. Formal infrastructure 2. Workplace context 3. Boundary crossing 4. Professional epistemic agency (After Knorr Cetina, 2015; Nerland, 2012)
  10. 10. The University of Sydney Page 10 Results: Epistemic shifts in professional fields Profession Shifts School counselling Numerous small changes in regulations Social work Introduction of new practice standards Teacher education (visual arts) Significant change in expert knowledge (new arts epistemic practices) Pharmacy A major “paradigm shift” in professional values Nursing A large transformation in professional epistemic culture
  11. 11. The University of Sydney Page 11 Case: School counseling Professional field  “There’s a lot of policy and procedure. But you have to know it…” Assessments  We burn them a CD on which we have the policies and it’s something – I forget the number, it might 200. There’s so many.”  “…there are fairly accepted ways of doing things…” Notations: ✓✓ – explicitly articulated in assessments, ✓– present, but expressed only indirectly, ✔– have been changed during the recent change Professio n Core epistemic aspects Epistemic relationships Kn. base Epistemi c skills Epistemi c values Formal infrastr. Work context Boundar y crossing Prof. agency School counsellin g ✓✓ ✓ ✓ ✓✔ ✓✓ ✓✓
  12. 12. The University of Sydney Page 12 Case: Social work Professional field  “…there are now national practice standards for social workers...” Assessments  “So these [learning outcomes] are going to be radically re- written before next year.”  “It’s different language more than anything. It’s not different in terms of its intent nor the ground that it covers…” Professio n Core epistemic aspects Epistemic relationships Kn. base Epistemi c skills Epistemi c values Formal infrastr. Work context Boundar y crossing Prof. agency Social work ✓✓ ✓✓ ✓✓ ✔✔ ✓✔ ✓✓ ✔ Notations: ✓✓ – explicitly articulated in assessments, ✓– present, but expressed only indirectly, ✔– have been changed during the recent change
  13. 13. The University of Sydney Page 13 Case: Nursing Professional field  “practice thinking, critical inquiry and clinical decision making skills”; “effectiveness of patient centred care” Assessments  “so I wanted them to create [nursing guidelines] with evidence of what is the best”  “… it’s not just clinical skills … you need evidence behind what you’re doing…” Professio n Core epistemic aspects Epistemic relationships Kn. base Epistemi c skills Epistemi c values Formal infrastr. Work context Boundar y crossing Prof. agency Nursing ✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔ ✔ ✔ ✔✔ ✔✔ Notations: ✓✓ – explicitly articulated in assessments, ✓– present, but expressed only indirectly, ✔– have been changed during the recent change
  14. 14. The University of Sydney Page 14 Summary: Changes in assessments Professio n Core epistemic aspects Epistemic relationships Kn. base Epistemi c skills Epistemi c values Formal infrastr. Work context Boundar y crossing Prof. agency School counsellin g ✓✓ ✓ ✓ ✓✔ ✓✓ ✓✓ Social work ✓✓ ✓✓ ✓✓ ✔✔ ✓✔ ✓✓ ✔ Teacher education ✓✔ ✔✔ ✔ ✔✔ ✓ ✔ Pharmacy ✓✓ ✔✔ ✔✔ ✔ ✔ ✔✔ ✔ Nursing ✔✔ ✔✔ ✔✔ ✔ ✔ ✔✔ ✔✔ Notations: ✓✓ – explicitly articulated in assessments, ✓– present, but expressed only indirectly, ✔– have been changed during the recent change
  15. 15. The University of Sydney Page 15 Main insights: Standards vs. value and skill driven epistemic change 1. Professional learning is shaped by diverse changes in professional fields: from standards, to values 2. The link between the changes in professional fields and in teaching practices is not straightforward 3. Some shifts that look “radical” have small implications on the ways students learn (and vice versa) 4. Influential changes reshape core epistemic aspects: epistemic values, skills, and knowledge-base
  16. 16. The University of Sydney Page 16 If you are interested... Email: Follow our website: https://epistemicfluency.com Lina.Marakauskaite@sydney.edu. au

Editor's Notes

  • http://www.yr-architecture.com/an-architects-expertise

    An example of a big picture
  • An example of a specific case
    And such changes happen not only over centuries, but almost continually… and it changes professional epistemic practices… how they come to know and work with knowledge
  • What kinds of recent epistemic shifts were seen as important for preparing professionals in various professional fields?
    How these shifts were instantiated in the concrete assessment tasks that students did in preparation for profession, in university courses?
  • Knowledge could be studied at different levels
    Top Global knowledge culture (or formal knowledge). Knowledge that we often see in books, formal methods, etc. Education often is the main consumer of this kind of knowledge and knowing


    “epistemic practice and culture” brings “knowledge practice” from ideal, abstract down to the (collective) local settings and machineries of knowledge production. Practical methods, artefacts, etc
    (Piaget with his developmental stages somewhat confused all education, formal knowledge does not replace, functional intuitive ways of knowing, but complement)

    In education, it is necessary to make one further step and bring it down to individual resourcefulness and capacities to work with knowledge
    Personal epistemic and conceptual resourcefulness that enables to make knowledgeable actions that on one side are sensitive to concrete situations, on the other draws on the resources of local and global cultures

    Today I mainly focus tools, methods, artefacts that we see at the second level
  • Professional learning and assessment in higher education often involve production of various artefacts, such as lesson plans and reflections in teaching, assessment reports and case studies in counselling

  • Disciplines
    pharmacy, nursing, social work, school counseling and education
    Sample
    20 professional practice courses
    24 projects-assessment tasks
    16 academics
    Data
    Interviews: 1-3 interviews per course
    Course materials: outlines, assignments, handouts, examples, etc.
    Methods
    Cognitive task analysis (Crandall, Klein, & Hoffman, 2006)
    Epistemic interviewing (Brinkmann, 2007)


  • Knowledge base – what professionals are expected to know
    Epistemic skills – on what kinds of thinking and problem solving practices they are expected to engage
    Epistemic values – what kinds of engagement with knowledge and knowing are valued
    (After Shulman’s signature pedagogies: surface, deep, implicit structure, 2005)
    Formal infrastructure – “information structures with a global outreach” that hinge and generate standardization and codification
    Workplace context – ways of engaging with situated knowledge generating work
    Boundary crossing – relational practices on the professional boundaries
    Epistemic agency – learning to create formal expert professional knowledge & culture

    “A signature pedagogy has three dimensions.
    First, it has a surface structure, which consists of concrete, operational acts of teaching and learning, of showing and demonstrating, of questioning and answering, of interacting and withholding, of approaching and withdrawing.
    Any signature pedagogy also has a deep structure, a set of assumptions about how best to impart a certain body of knowledge and know-how.
    And it has an implicit structure, a moral dimension that comprises a set of beliefs about professional attitudes, values, and dispositions.
    Finally, each signature pedagogy can also be characterized by what it is not–by the way it is shaped by what it does not impart or exemplify. A signature pedagogy invariably involves a choice, a selection among alternative approaches
    to training aspiring professionals. That choice necessarily highlights and supports certain outcomes while, usually unintentionally, failing to address other important characteristics of professional performance."
    Lee S. Shulman, 2005
  • “There’s a lot of policy and procedure. But you have to know it…. we do exercises. We give them lots of handouts….They’re all given a CD. We burn them a CD on which we have the policies and it’s something – I forget the number, it might 200. There’s so many.”

    “But there are fairly accepted ways of doing things, good practice.”
  • “Yes. It’s making a bit of a difference for them as to how they prepare for a student. And the sorts of activities that a student might get involved with. So, for example, a number of practitioners would call themselves ‘direct practice practitioners’, so they work directly with individuals where it’s communities. And they wouldn’t see themselves as researchers or policy writers. But research and policy are very much part of a social worker’s practice. And we expect that students will learn about applicable research and what policy informs their practice, no matter where they are. So it was interesting yesterday’s conversation that a number of practitioners were saying ‘oh I have to think a little bit about how I engage a student in those aspects of practice’. Nobody was saying you can’t do it and won’t do it. But just requiring them to think a little bit differently. Very interesting.
  • Infrastructure driven shifts
    Vs
    Value and practice driven shifts

  • Professional learning is shaped by diverse changes in professional fields: from standards, to values
    Changes in formal professional infrastructure do not necessarily result in significant changes in epistemic practices
    Influential changes reshape core epistemic aspects: epistemic values, skills, and knowledge-base


    The link between the changes in professional fields and changes in teaching practices is not straightforward
    Some shifts that look “radical” have small implications on the ways students learn (and vice versa)


    Standards driven vs value and knowledge driven change

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