School of Public Health (19 November, 2009) Sioux McKenna
Defined by CHE as a field of research and practice that aims to enhance quality and effectiveness. There's a difference between equity of access and outcomes (e.g. successful progress through the system).
Different models of academic development:
Different models of discourses:
What was learnt through these discussions?
There is futility in focussing on the high school system Need for change is at the level of mainstream structures and practices
Equity of access → ← Equity of outcomes
Equity of access (to higher education) seems to be good at a superficial level:
Equity of outcomes (from Scott, Yeld and Henry, 2007):
Models of Foundational programmes (looks like it's going to become the norm):
Moving forward? → more flexible curricula
Activists or academics?
“I don't believe in academic literacy, only literacies”
We are not a tribe of academics, there are many tribes and we don't all belong to all of them, we cannot belong to all of them, because we don't understand all of the tribal practices. But we do belong to more than one.
Remember that the tribes we belong to are the tribes that our students are trying to get inducted into. Our tribal practices are largely unknown to the students but we expect that they know them (or learn about them independantly). First year students are not necessarily interested in the same tribes as fourth year students. A discipline is a set of tribal norms that are mysterious, and those mysterious tribal rules are not made overt to students. Our job is to induct students into the discipline.
Practices emanate from values, so if students are not inducted into the value system of that tribe, why should they emulate the practice? Value systems underpin the way we construct our texts. Useful idea for teaching human rights.
“Skills” are things you teach, whereas “practices” are things you are inducted into. We teach students skills and give them facts. That doesn't make them physiotherapists. We don't graduate physiotherapists, we graduate people who have a set of skills and knowledge / information, but it takes years for them to induct themselves into our tribe. We unconsciously understand the subjects / practices / values of our tribe, but how can we make it explicit to our students who don't understand our tribal culture?
Passive writing techniques mean that the action is the most important part of the “story”, not the subject or actor. It should be devoid of social class, it has nothing to do with “the hand that did it”. It has more to do with the value system that lie beneath it. The focus is on the external action, rather than the internal values. Passive writing helps to showcase objectivity.
Socio-economic status is the most direct correlating factor related to failure i.e. if you're from a working class background, you're more likely to fail. Indictment of higher education…how are we a social good if we stratify students through entry requirements / costs. If someone does manage to get in who can't afford to, they're more likely to fail.
Students trying to crack the code of academic language → another tribal practice that they don't necessarily understand. Figure out the “ways of being” in a university. It's less foreign for some than for others.
Middle class students more likely to come from a home where parents read, there are books, newspapers and magazines available. But, reading is not a neutral skill, it has a cultural practice associated with it.
“Humanities” reference 5-8 times more than the “natural sciences”, and the referencing is done in fundamentally different ways, with different purposes. Novice academics read papers differently to experienced academics. Novices read the abstracts, experienced academics read the reference lists first.
Academic language is elevated. We ask students to write in their own words, but penalise them when they don't use “our/academic” words: “Kids from broken homes turn to crime” is not acceptable in academia; → “According to (citations), children between the ages of 9 and 14 living in households where the relationships into which they were born has been disrupted tend to become involved in instances of petty crime such as shoplifting” The above sentence highlights academic value systems
What is the “culture of knowledge” in your department?
Different disciplines = different practices = different teaching and learning practices
First year level is about scaffolding (review this concept) access to tribal / disciplinary practices. However, we try to shove in as much content as possible, while largely ignoring the scaffolding (lots of small developmental and incremental tasks with lots of feedback)
What is more important, to give an exact replication of the textbook definition, or to explain in poor academic language what the definition means. Disciplinary practices are unique to the discipline…there are rules to follow / hoops to jump through / play the game e.g. students must use the language that is required by the discipline. Most students are not there to question, they are there to pass.
When we ask students to “discuss”, we need to to provide context. “Discuss” can be a lazy way to add marks to a simple “concept” question.
You can only critique a discipline when you're an insider. But if you wait until you're an insider, you might be consumed by the Borg.
Beware of “talkback” as opposed to “feedback”.
As an experienced academic you can subvert the tribal practices / discourses. You can bring in the personal components. Only when you're a member of the tribe, can you subvert it. We can write in a way that brings in other perspectives / discourses because we know the tribal practices and therefore subvert it.
Universities are spaces that can lead to societal change (we're not sure if they still do), but only if discussion and debate are encouraged.
“List the 5 principles of good management” (why is this an example of a poor question?) List = verbatim, is about jumping through hoops, not engaging Are there only the 5 listed in the textbook? What does “good” mean?
Make sure that students know that the course content is not a “canon” of knowledge to be revered, with no other alternatives. Students, especially first years, struggle with the idea that there can be many “truths”. It comes back to identifying value systems early on, so that students know there isn't a universally correct truth, and that we're OK with that.
Advocates a constant critique of practices. Who's interests are being served / ignored?
Autonomous vs Idealogical? All texts can be looked at from these two approaches (a text can be anything, even a person) Most of the time, we use an autonomous position to understand a “thing? Autonomous → meaning resides in the text, and we decode the text to get at the meaning (how does this compare to connectivism) Idealogical → meaning is socially constructed, we apply meaning to the text, thus we cannot separate the texts from the people who are using them, the text is just a collection of shapes i.e. people contstruct meaning
Student development from the autonomous model: Fix students ability to decode It's about skills, technical ability Focus is on surface correction → getting the message right in terms of it's structure Can be generic and outside of the mainstream “Students” are responsible for not decoding properly, therfore I don't have to change my practice, it's the student who must change
Student development from the idealogical model:
Are we trying to get students to “learn stuff” or are we trying to get them to “become learners”?