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14 th ITi. CSE conference 7 th July 2009, Paris Sally Fincher Useful Sharing
Why “useful”? • • • Because most isn’t. “Transfer of best practice” § What’s “best”? For who? How? With what evidence? Rhetoric of dissemination § Publish at conferences § Case studies, pedagogy papers, database of good practice, “toolkits”, . . . Calls on a research model of social networks – of how knowledge passes across institutional boundaries “Until recently, professional development for teachers has been embedded in a sacred story of research disconnected from practice. ” (Olson)
Research (for a moment) • • Research is an activity that stands outside of any one institution. Researchers gain internal value/kudos by activity that is validated by an external community of peers and indicators (papers published, grants awarded, prizes won) over which the institution has no control. It happens “elsewhere”. A corollary of this sort of external network is that research information is exchanged between institutions as a matter of course.
Teaching is not research • • Teaching is specific and situated. It’s located in institutions, and in subject matter. I teach (literally) in the same room you teach in, we are seen to be doing “the same thing”. No external visibility: no external esteem. So, I’m having problems teaching public static void main– where can I get help? I’m the only one teaching Java and staff developers don’t have the domain knowledge to help. Information about teaching stays at home.
Secondary rhetoric • • • As well as the “dissemination of best practice” rhetoric, there is another currently pervasive discourse that works to blur the distinctions between teaching and learning “Research-led teaching” “Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (So. TL)” Linking Teaching and Research in Disciplines and Departments Jenkins, Healey & Zetter, 2007
Zukas & Malcolm • “If we reject the conventional ‘acquisition’ argument that research is about creating disciplinary knowledge whilst teaching is about disseminating it, then the distinctions between research and pedagogy begin to blur; instead, both have to be understood as sites of disciplinary knowledge production” Zukas, M. and Malcolm, J. (2007) ‘Teaching, discipline, net-work’ in Skelton, A. (ed) International Perspectives on Teaching Excellence in Higher Education London: Routledge
Representing teaching as itself • • There is research – and I would be one of the very first to defend disciplinary-specific educational research as a legitimate research area – and there is teaching. And they are different. Treating teaching as research maybe an intersting argumentative position, but its not useful. But what does it mean to treat teaching as teaching? How may we represent it appropriately? How can we share what we do effectively?
History of practice • • If not from within my institution, & if not from “papers”, what about other published material? Well … what, exactly? § Architecture • preserves its creations in both plans and edifices § Law • builds a case literature of opinions and interpretations (and Religion, too – think Talmudic scholarship) § Chess, bridge, ballet • • all have traditions of preserving both memorable games and choreographed performances through inventive forms of notation and recording “Teaching is conducted without an audience of peers. It is devoid of a history of practice. ”(Shulman)
Representation of Our Practice? • • I’m not sure what it is, but I have some thoughts on what it’s not: § It’s not a journal paper (reports something quite different) § It’s not made up (not a case study) § I doubt it’s abstracted (no “buyer’s context”) “In a society that attaches particular value to ‘abstract knowledge’, the details of practice have come to be seen as nonessential, unimportant, and easily developed once the relevant abstractions have been grasped. Thus education, training, and technology design generally focus on abstract representations to the detriment, if not exclusion of actual practice. ” (Brown & Duguid)
Representation of Our Practice? • • I’m not sure what it is, but I have some thoughts on what it’s not, § It’s not a journal paper (reports something quite different) § It’s not made up (not a case study) § I doubt it’s abstracted (no “buyer’s context”) An appropriate representational form is important if we are searching for solutions to our problems, looking for ideas to adopt, and also if we are crafting material to share. From either side of the exchange, similar questions emerge. What detail is important? What features are salient?
Problems of knowing • • • If we’re going to usefully share practice, how do we identify what educators think is important, is salient? One way would be to look at the way teachers classify the kinds of knowledge they draw on: the way they think about things. There have been several attempts to describe this.
Attempts to describe a practitioners’ epistemology of practice: Lee Shulman • • content knowledge. general pedagogical knowledge, with special reference to those broad principles and strategies of classroom management and organisation that appear to transcend subject matter. curriculum knowledge, with particular grasp of the materials and programmes that serve as ‘tools of the trade’ for teachers. pedagogical content knowledge, that special amalgam of content and pedagogy that is uniquely the province of teachers, their own special form of professional understanding. knowledge of learners and their characteristics. knowledge of educational contexts, ranging from the workings of the group or classroom, the governance and financing of school districts, to the character of communities and cultures. knowledge of educational ends, purposes and values, and their philosophical and historical grounds.
Attempts to describe a practitioners’ epistemology of practice: Max Van Manen Noncognitive knowing: • Knowledge resides in action as lived • Knowledge resides in the body • Knowledge resides in the world • Knowledge resides in relations § in our confident doing, style, and practical tact § in habituated acting and routine practices § in an immediate corporeal sense of things § in our gestures, demeanor § in being with the things of our world § in situations of at-homeness, dwelling § in the encounter with others § in relations of trust, recognition, intimacy
Attempts to describe a practitioners’ epistemology of practice: Anderson & Page • • Technical knowledge § (“academic knowledge is technical knowledge”) Local knowledge § (“includes the narratives that are idiosyncratic to a local school or community setting … included within this domain is knowledge of local politics, and local cultures and subcultures”) • Craft knowledge • Personal knowledge § (“consists of the repertoire of examples, images, understandings and actions that practitioners build up over time”)
Personal, but not idiosyncratic • • • We can all recognise something in all these classifications. We can “read” our experience against them. “narratives are key components in the authentic study of teaching, for until we understand the context and appreciate the perspectives of those involved, any understanding of what it means to teach and learn will remain fragmented and disconnected from the real world of teaching” (Olson)
It’s not simple • “Sharing complex knowledge requires time devoted to either personal interaction or thoughtful documentation of one’s expertise, or both. ” (Hinds & Pfeffer)
Disciplinary Commons • • • I'm interested in models of what the Americans call “Commons”: situations where individuals take collective responsibility for common resources. Definitely a model of “useful sharing”. For teaching, might it be away of producing (and curating) appropriate, long-lasting representations of practice?
Disciplinary Commons: Aims • • To document and share knowledge about teaching and student learning in the UK. To establish practices for the scholarship of teaching by making it public, peer-reviewed, and amenable for future use and development by other educators: creating a teaching-appropriate document of practice equivalent to the research-appropriate journal paper.
Disciplinary Commons: Structure • • • A Commons is constituted from 10 -20 practitioners sharing the same disciplinary background, teaching the same subject – sometimes the same module – in different institutions. Meet monthly throughout an academic year. During meetings practice is shared, peer-reviewed and ultimately documented in course portfolios
Disciplinary Commons: Participation • • • Part of the sharing is cross-institutional peer observation of teaching. We learn an unusual amount about the practices in other institutions (otherwise only obtainable by “charismatic embedding”). This, it turns out, has high internal value.
Disciplinary Commons: Reification • Documentation of teaching practice is: • Commons portfolios have: • • § Rare § In non-standard (& therefore non-comparable) forms § Common form § Persistent, peer-reviewed deliverable Power of portfolios is multiplied when there are several examples available for a disciplinary area Commons archives provide a rich set of contextualised data, charting and calibrating development over time
Disciplinary Commons: Portfolio form • Have six sections: § § § Context Content Instructional Design Delivery Assessment Evaluation • • • Each section consists of an artefact and a commentary. Detail and discussion. Evidence and narrative. What and why. Personal, but not idiosyncratic
OK, I lied • • Those neat representations from other areas? They are not as self-contained as I might have led you to believe
In the diagramed deal, five diamonds doubled was the contract at both tables. In the other room, North opened two diamonds! After Rengstorff (East) passed, South responded two spades, and Krekorian (West) overcalled three hearts. North was still there with four clubs; East raised to four hearts; South bid five diamonds; West doubled; and all passed. East led the heart king. The best play was to ruff that in hand, play a spade to the ace, ruff a spade, ruff a club and basically continue with a crossruff. That would have led to down one. But North won with dummy’s heart ace and discarded his spade queen. Then he ruffed a heart; ruffed a club, bringing down West’s ace; and cashed the diamond ace, getting the bad news. Now came the spade ace, a heart ruff and a club ruff. At this point, if West had overruffed and cashed his two trump winners, it would have resulted in down three, because East had the club queen. But West, defending carefully, discarded. Declarer could take only one more trick by trumping a card. West then ruffed the club king, drew trumps and claimed down three. In the given auction, Woods (North) bid four no-trump to ask his partner to choose a minor. West led the heart jack. Lev (South) started correctly, ruffing in the dummy, playing a spade to his ace, ruffing a spade, ruffing a club, ruffing a spade and ruffing a club with the diamond nine. West overruffed and returned a heart, South winning with his ace, ruffing the spade six and discarding a heart on the club king. West ruffed to give this position: West correctly led the diamond king, which should have resulted in down two, but when declarer won with his ace and played the spade five, West erred by discarding. Now South could lead another spade and score dummy’s diamond ten with a coup en passant for down one.
commentary exposition interpretation In the diagramed deal, five diamonds doubled was the contract at both tables. In the other room, North opened two diamonds! After Rengstorff (East) passed, South responded two spades, and Krekorian (West) overcalled three hearts. North was still there with four clubs; East raised to four hearts; South bid five diamonds; West doubled; and all passed. East led the heart king. The best play was to ruff that in hand, play a spade to the ace, ruff a spade, ruff a club and basically continue with a crossruff. That would have led to down one. But North won with dummy’s heart ace and discarded his spade queen. Then he ruffed a heart; ruffed a club, bringing down West’s ace; and cashed the diamond ace, getting the bad news. Now came the spade ace, a heart ruff and a club ruff. At this point, if West had overruffed and cashed his two trump winners, it would have resulted in down three, because East had the club queen. But West, defending carefully, discarded. Declarer could take only one more trick by trumping a card. West then ruffed the club king, drew trumps and claimed down three. In the given auction, Woods (North) bid four no-trump to ask his partner to choose a minor. West led the heart jack. Lev (South) started correctly, ruffing in the dummy, playing a spade to his ace, ruffing a spade, ruffing a club, ruffing a spade and ruffing a club with the diamond nine. West overruffed and returned a heart, South winning with his ace, ruffing the spade six and discarding a heart on the club king. West ruffed to give this position: West correctly led the diamond king, which should have resulted in down two, but when declarer won with his ace and played the spade five, West erred by discarding. Now South could lead another spade and score dummy’s diamond ten with a coup en passant for down one.
http: //www. hastingschess. org. uk/2009/commentary. htm Community context • One of the biggest dilemmas facing any chessplayer, especially those below The extent whether to employ main line openings, or rely on less great master level, is of modern opening theory is now so theoretical sidelines. The extent now that to play main linesof modern openingenormousso home that requires an theory ishours of great of work, to play main lines requires an enormous of work, and many hours ofmost amateur players, burdened, asstudy. For preparation and study. For home preparation and they are likely to be, job, dog requisite time is mostwith. Evenfamily, players, burdened, as they simplylikely to amateur flesh and mortgage, the is frequently weak. Regardless of are not available. if the is willing, the spirit be, with job, family, dogit and mortgage, the requisite results, a lot of players simply find boring to trot out 15 -20 moves of established theory at the each game, time is simply notstart ofof the game. and prefer to use their own available heads, from the very beginning Historicallevel, inevitably, one finds far fewer players who eschew main line • At GM context openings, but there are some brave souls still willing to do so. The Brits, ever since the "English 1970 s, have always had a of the since the "English Chess Explosion" of the Chess Explosion" reputation for preferring offbeat reputation from Mike Basman, offbeat 1970 s, have always had alines. Quite apart for preferring the high lines priest of recondite opening schemes, players such as Tony Miles made a … English players havethat the average Russian GM would not been seen healthy living with openings done a huge amount to make dead employing. Tony's apogee was his successful f 4 -Sicilian against openings such as the Trompovsky and 1. e 4 a 6 2. d 4 b 5 respectable Karpov, but other English players have done a huge amount to make openings such as the Trompovsky and f 4 -Sicilian respectable.
http: //www. hastingschess. org. uk/2009/commentary. htm • The top boards of round six in this year's Hastings Masters showed opposite sides of the offbeat openings coin. The biggest story of the day came on board two, where top seed Emanuel Berg faced what liked a tricky pairing as Black against Stephen Gordon. In the event, though, the genial Swedish GM brought off a sensationally easy victory, thanks to a highly unusual opening choice Game d 5 2. c 4 • 1. d 4 context e 5 The Albin is an extremely rare guest at GM level, • The Albin is anextremely rare guest at GM level, although the mercurial Alexander Morozevichithas used the mercurial Alexander Morozevich has used it successfully on a few occasions. I cannot trace anyany successfully on a few occasions. I cannot trace examples Berg playing it before, so must have examples ofof Bergplaying it before, so ititmust have come as complete surprise to Stephen Gordon. comeaas a complete surprise to Stephen Gordon.
Synthesis of forms • • • So each of these representational forms is, one way or another, in text or in person, accompanied by a narrative exposition. I still don’t know what a good (strong/appropriate) representation of teaching is, but to be useful - as in all these other areas - I think it must be situated and specific and guaranteed by personality. These are not characteristics of research representations.
Why might Commons portfolios be candidate representations? • • All Commoners are expert Commoners work together to discover, interpret and re-interpret new material Resultant public documentation is contextual, comparative and collegial A Commons portfolio is the product of a unique voice. Each chosen artefact is paired with an accompanying narrative.
It’s not simple • • • “Sharing complex knowledge requires time devoted to either personal interaction or thoughtful documentation of one’s expertise, or both. ” (Hinds & Pfeffer) Useful sharing requires interacting with people who are most interested in what I do. The highest value input is from colleagues who do the same thing – teach the same subject – as me. I suggest that it means leveraging discipline over institution in a way that is analogous to, although at the same time quite orthogonal to, research activity.
Shameless advertising • • • Two Disciplinary Commons will run from September 2009. § A Database Disciplinary Commons in the UK, led by Rich Cooper § A Software Engineering Disciplinary Commons in the US, led by Dennis Bouvier If you’re interested in joining these, seek out myself or Dennis If you’re interested in exploring issues of representation further, see my current project: http: //www. sharingpractice. ac. uk
References • • Margaret Olson, Narrative Epistemology in Practice. Curriculum Inquiry 27: 4, 1997 John Seely Brown & Paul Duguid, Organizational Learning and Communities of Practice: Toward a Unified View of Working, Learning, And Innovation. Organizational Science 2: 1, Feb 1991 Lee S Shulman Knowledge and Teaching: Foundations of the New Reform. Harvard Educational Review 57: 1 March 1987 Gary Anderson & Bonnie Page Narrative Knowledge and Educational Administration: The Stories that Guide Our Practice in The Knowledge Base in Educational Administration: Multiple Perspectives Edited by Robert Donmoyer, Michael Imber, James Joseph Scheurich SUNY Press, 1995
References • • Max Van Manen The Practice of Practice in: Manfred Lang, John Olson, Henning Hansen & Wolfgang Bünder (eds. ) Changing Schools/Changing Practices: Perspectives on Educational Reform and Teacher Professionalism, Garant, 1999 Pamela Hinds & Jeffrey Pfeffer Why Organizations Don't “Know What They Know”: Cognitive and Motivational Factors Affecting the Transfer of Expertise, in Mark Ackerman, Volkmar Pipek and Volker Wulf (eds. ) Sharing Expertise, MIT Press, 2003 Bridge narrative: http: //www. nytimes. com/2009/05/30/crosswords/bridge/30 card. html Disciplinary Commons: see http: //www. disciplinarycommons. org There are links to individual Disciplinary Commons from that page (for example, introductory teaching of programming)
Acknowledgements Eerke Boiten clued me in to the essential narrative component in the representations of Bridge games. Josh Tenenberg and I jointly devised the Disciplinary Commons model The first US Disciplinary Commons was made possible by funding from the Washington State Board of Community and Technical Colleges, the University of Washington, Tacoma. The first two UK Disciplinary Commons were made possible through the award of a National Teaching Fellowship 2005 to Sally Fincher, via a workpackage of CETL ALi. C and a TQEF small grant from Leeds Metropolitan University
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