Disciplinary specificity in university teaching moving from conceptualisation to action
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Disciplinary specificity in university teaching : Moving from conceptualisation to action. Denis Berthiaume : Universit é de Lausanne Anna Jones :University of Melbourne Visiting Fellow, University of Gloucestershire Kerri-Lee Krause : Griffith University

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Disciplinary specificity in university teaching moving from conceptualisation to action

Disciplinary specificity in university teaching : Moving from conceptualisation to action

Denis Berthiaume: Université de Lausanne

Anna Jones:University of Melbourne

Visiting Fellow, University of Gloucestershire

Kerri-Lee Krause: Griffith University

Mick Healey: University of Gloucestershire

Kristine Mason O’Connor: University of Gloucestershire


The problem

The problem

  • Teaching has often been assumed to be generic (unlike research)

  • Yet disciplinary cultures are important (Henkel 2000, 2005; Becher & Trowler 2001)

    Ignoring context has a number of problems:

  • Separates teaching from scholarship, research practices

  • Denies local knowledge


Method

Method

  • In-depth interviews with academic staff

  • 2 large research-intensive Australian universities

  • 5 disciplines (history, physics, economics, law, medicine)

  • 37 interviews

  • Additional use of subject outlines, assessment tasks, university and department lists of attributes

  • Emergent analysis


Epistemology

Epistemology

The ways in which knowledge is understood has the potential to influence the ways it is taught

  • Macro level: fundamental assumptions that cross disciplinary boundaries eg positivism, constructivism

  • Meso level: disciplinary epistemology

  • Micro level: personal

    These levels are not discrete and can be intertwined and contradictory


Disciplinary epistemology

Disciplinaryepistemology

  • Highly complex

  • Central to disciplinary culture but not static

  • Within each discipline or even each individual there can be a range of epistemologies

  • Dynamic, fluid, not monolithic

    BUT importance also of departmental, institutional culture


History

History

  • Importance of people, empathy, difference human nature, human motivation

  • What are the reasons behind actions? What could people have known, what are their fears, their fantasies?

  • What (if anything) can the past tell us about our own time?

  • Constructed nature of knowledge,multiple, contested, contextualised, the role of the historian

  • Importance of argumentation, writerliness

  • Thinking critically


Physics

Physics

  • The power of the physics worldview in shaping the modern understanding of reality

  • Complex, counter intuitive

  • Technical, mathematical skills

  • Vast body of knowledge

  • Problem solving, experimental technique and reasoning


Economics

Economics

  • Range from the highly mathematical, applied to more qualitative

  • Some see it as a science (analogous to either physics or biology)

  • Learn the ‘toolbox’

  • Problem solving


Disciplinary specificity in university teaching moving from conceptualisation to action

Law

  • Human element, argumentation, use of language, examination of the world, the flexibility as a discipline

  • Impact of the law on the community, tool for change, philosophical questions, notions of justice

  • Professional responsibilities

  • Ethical responsibilities

  • Problem solving, understanding the ‘grammar of law’


Medicine

Medicine

  • Epistemology has four strands - scientific, psychosocial, moral and professional.

  • ‘Science and art’

  • Clinical reasoning

  • Communication

  • Thinking critically about evidence, context, professional and ethical responsibilities


Disciplinary specificity in university teaching moving from conceptualisation to action

Critical thinking


Disciplinary specificity in university teaching moving from conceptualisation to action

Problem solving


Disciplinary specificity in university teaching moving from conceptualisation to action

Communication


Summary

Summary

  • Historians – knowledge is contested and interpreted with no single replicable outcome. Teaching focused on argumentation

  • Physics – duality between certainty and uncertainty. Teaching is focused on mathematical and conceptual skills, problem solving

  • Economics – focus on learning the technical and conceptual skills, problem solving

  • Law – multiple epistemology (axiomatic, interpretive) focus on legal problem solving, professional issues, argument

  • Medicine – highly complex multiple epistemology, clinical reasoning, professional persona, outcomes focused.


Related factors

Related factors

  • Personal, individual

  • Artefacts (eg pre-existing research, conceptual tools, teaching materials, physical spaces)

  • Communities (both research and teaching)

  • Division of labour, hierarchies

  • Rules (both tacit and overt)

    (Engeström, 2001)


The way forward

The way forward

  • Importance of the contextual

  • Teaching is not a generic activity, nor a set of principles that can be applied regardless of practice

  • Ways in which teaching operates in disciplinary communities of practice (Lave & Wenger 1991, Wenger 1998). Disciplinary epistemology, traditions, research culture, university and departmental culture.

  • Boundary crossings (Engestrom, Blackler) trading zones (Mills & Taylor Huber 2005), critical interdisciplinarity (Rowland, 2006)


Discipline specific pedagogical knowledge what is it and how can it be developed

Discipline-specific pedagogical knowledgeWhat is it and how can it be developed?

Denis Berthiaume

Centre for Learning and Teaching

University of Lausanne, Switzerland

8 December 2008


Outline of the presentation

Outline of the presentation

  • Premises of the study

  • DPK model (components and dimensions)

  • Approaches to foster DPK development


Premises

Premises

  • University teaching seen as a complex cognitive activity

  • In many countries, university teachers receive limited pedagogical training

  • Not easy to relate new pedagogical knowledge to one’s discipline of instruction

  • Need to help university teachers develop discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge (DPK)

  • Need to know more about DPK and its development


What is discipline specific pedagogical knowledge

What is discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge?

DPK


What is discipline specific pedagogical knowledge1

What is discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge?

Knowledge base for teaching

DPK


What is discipline specific pedagogical knowledge2

What is discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge?

Knowledge base for teaching

Beliefs

Knowl.

DPK

Goals


What is discipline specific pedagogical knowledge3

What is discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge?

Knowledge base for teaching

Disciplinary

specificity

Beliefs

Knowl.

DPK

Goals


What is discipline specific pedagogical knowledge4

What is discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge?

Knowledge base for teaching

Disciplinary

specificity

Beliefs

Struct.

Knowl.

DPK

Culture

Goals


What is discipline specific pedagogical knowledge5

What is discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge?

Knowledge base for teaching

Disciplinary

specificity

Beliefs

Struct.

Knowl.

DPK

Culture

Goals

Personal epistemology


What is discipline specific pedagogical knowledge6

What is discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge?

Knowledge base for teaching

Disciplinary

specificity

Beliefs

Struct.

Knowl.

DPK

Culture

Goals

Knowl.

Know.

Knowl.

Constr.

Knowl.

Eval.

Personal epistemology


What is discipline specific pedagogical knowledge7

What is discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge?

Knowledge base for teaching

Disciplinary

specificity

Beliefs

Struct.

Knowl.

DPK

Culture

Goals

Knowl.

Know.

Knowl.

Constr.

Knowl.

Eval.

Personal epistemology


What is discipline specific pedagogical knowledge8

What is discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge?

Knowledge base for teaching

Disciplinary

specificity

Beliefs

Struct.

4

3

Knowl.

10

DPK

Culture

Goals

4

5

2

2

2

Knowl.

Know.

Knowl.

Constr.

Knowl.

Eval.

Personal epistemology


What is discipline specific pedagogical knowledge9

What is discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge?

Knowledge base for teaching

Disciplinary

specificity

Beliefs

Culture

2

3

Knowl.

6

DPK

Struct.

Goals

1

3

1

1

2

Knowl.

Know.

Knowl.

Constr.

Knowl.

Eval.

Personal epistemology


What is discipline specific pedagogical knowledge10

What is discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge?

Knowledge base for teaching

Disciplinary

specificity

Beliefs

Struct.

2

1

Knowl.

6

DPK

Culture

Goals

3

3

1

1

2

Knowl.

Know.

Knowl.

Constr.

Knowl.

Eval.

Personal epistemology


What is discipline specific pedagogical knowledge11

What is discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge?

  • A form of knowledge that is complex, changing, drawn from a variety of sources

  • Not uniform to all teachers from a given discipline because of the role played by one’s personal epistemology

  • Much more based on socio-cultural characteristics than epistemological structure

  • Common elements to teachers coming from different disciplines


How can dpk be developed

How can DPK be developed?

  • Conscious effort on the part of the teacher to document the various components of DPK from the three sources

    • Knowledge base for teaching

    • Disciplinary specificity

    • Personal epistemology

  • Conscious effort on the part of the teacher to document the various relationships between components of DPK


How can dpk be developed1

How can DPK be developed?

Various approaches can be used to develop DPK

Individual approaches: - reflective practice

- literature-based research

- empirical research

Collegial approaches:- mentoring

- communities of practice

- workshops


Individual exercise 5 10 minutes

Individual exercise(5-10 minutes)

What research findings that were just presented do you think you can integrate into your practice?

How do you plan on integrating these findings into your practice (what do you see yourself do)?

How much of that can be done in collaboration with colleagues holding similar posts?


Group exercise 15 20 minutes

Group exercise(15-20 minutes)

Share with your colleagues how you plan on integrating findings on disciplinary specificity into your practice

Make sure to spend enough time discussing the potential for collaboration in order to integrate findings on disciplinary specificity into your practice


A few words about methods

A few words about methods

Objectives of the study

  • Clarify the empirical nature of discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge (DPK)

  • Develop a framework for capturing, describing, and analyzing DPK


A few words about methods1

A few words about methods

Main research question:

What is the nature of university professors’ discipline-specific pedagogical knowledge (DPK)?

Sub-questions:

  • What are the dimensions/characteristics associated with components of the DPK framework?

  • What relationships exist between components of the DPK framework?


A few words about methods2

A few words about methods

  • Inductive analysis / instrumental multicase study

  • Four participants from four different disciplines (Mathematics, Civil Engineering, Philosophy, Social Work)

  • Five semi-structured interviews per participant (total = 20)

  • Interviews during planning, implementation and reflection related to specific courses

  • Focus on both perceptions and actions


Focus questions

Focus Questions

  • What is the ‘one thing’ that is most important in your discipline? (or the staff you work with)

  • What are the attributes you most want graduates to have attained?

  • How is this best achieved through teaching?


Ideas

Ideas


Ideas1

Ideas


Ideas arising from workshop discussion

Ideas (arising from workshop discussion)

  • Students changing, generic attributes

  • Reflective model based on DPK to be used for staff development (develop own and group model), ongoing staff development

  • Engage new starters contextualise, refreshment for people who have been teaching for some time, use as starting point


Ideas2

Ideas

  • How staff help students develop their own understanding, disciplinary expectations

  • Look at the process for students, link with employability

  • Students given many mixed messages about disciplines

  • Impact of the quality processes

  • Interdisciplinary inquiry modules, point of departure for discussion


Ideas3

Ideas

  • Use the model in the context of certificates, academic development activities

  • Role of professionals coming into university teaching, building new dimensions into the model (other profiles)

  • Integrate notion of disciplinary epistemologies in the development of a Master’s degree, tools for the job


Ideas4

Ideas

  • New ways of thinking in relation to the design of degree programmes

  • Learners’ perspective in particular in the context of interdisciplinary degrees

  • Talking tool to get people to explicit what they think of other people’s discipline

  • What is a discipline?

  • Learner perspective very important

  • Tension between the teaching and research roles


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