Transforming the Learning Experience: Promoting Conversations about Research-Engaged Teaching and Learning (ReTaL) Experiences Karin Crawford email@example.com University of Lincoln, United Kingdom ICED 2010 28-30 June 2010
Presentation aims • Share experience and reflect on a project that aims to promote learning and dialogue amongst faculty; • Consider the opportunities and challenges of such a project; • Discuss the experience of engaging faculty in dialogue about teaching and learning innovations; • Explore the wider applicability of this approach.
Institutional context • Teaching and learning at University of Lincoln based on principle and practices of research-engaged teaching; • There is much debate and discussion about what this actually means; • Whilst research-engaged teaching is prevalent in HE, there is no University in the UK that has taken this on as a unifying principle for its pedagogic practices; • ‘… a 21st century expression of the old university ideal, where the student focus is paramount, at the same time as fulfilling the modern tasks of knowledge creation and transfer for the economic, social and cultural benefit of our society’ (Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor www.lincoln.ac.uk)
A further development of the best aspects of research-informed teaching (Healey and Jenkins 2009); Not a new concept, grounded in the intellectual history and tradition of the modern university; Moves away from HE activity being defined by government policy, to reclaim the core activities and purpose of HE, research and teaching; Underpinning concepts include ‘the student as producer’, students produce and discover knowledge rather than learning only that which has already been discovered (Neary and Winn 2009); Division of roles between teacher and student is minimized (Brew 2006); A move from an instructional paradigm to a learning paradigm (Barr and Tagg 1995). Research-engaged teaching
Our working definition ‘A fundamental principle of curriculum design, where students learn primarily by engagement in real research projects, or projects which replicate the process of research in their discipline. Engagement is created through active collaboration amongst and between students and academics, underpinned by the effective use of information resources’ (Neary 2010: 07)
The pilot project • In one large Faculty (Health, Life and Social Sciences); • Use of Web2 technologies; • Recognition that many colleagues were already working with students on research-like teaching and learning activities; • Some work so embedded in day-to-day practices that it may not be recognised within this frame; • A priority activity in the Faculty Teaching, Learning and Assessment Plan.
Objectives of the pilot project • Promote academic community dialogue about ReTaL, including facilitating cross-faculty dialogue; • Provide an opportunity to share practice across the Faculty and beyond; • ‘Showcase’ examples of ReTaL • Further understanding about what is meant by ReTaL; • To provide a mode of staff-development related to ReTaL that is accessible, flexible and in the tradition of ReTaL, is produced and developed by those how are directly involved.
The pilot project – stage 1 • Exploring technological options; • Exploring possible cost implications; • Engaging with Faculty committees and central committees and departments to establish permissions and agreements; • Agreeing the scope, boundaries and timescales for the project.
The pilot project – stage 2 • Setting up the technological interface, with appropriate support (WordPress blogging platform); • Deciding on criteria for content – type, form, time or space limit for each entry; • Developing a format that would become the on-line submission form; • Encouraging small number of colleagues to provide examples ‘to work with’.
The pilot project – stage 3 • Plan to hold a workshop event, open to all teaching staff and students; • Using examples from the site supplemented with representation from the school/department; • Discussion and debate about each example.
Opportunities • Other faculties soon keen to be a part of this; • An element of friendly competition; • A marketing tool; • A repository of good practice; • An opportunity to engage students in different ways; • Use of multi-media tools with links to youtube, slide-share, facebook etc.
Challenges • Who would manage, maintain, upload, administrate? Who has ‘ownership’ long term? • Engaging faculty – some keen to ‘showcase’, but few keen to engage in on-line dialogue; • Continuing need to motivate others, difficult to see the mutual benefits at the early stages; • Ensuring enough standardisation to enable searching across categories, whilst valuing creativity, flexibility to account for discipline and individual difference.
Conclusion • A new quality learning development in Teaching and Learning across the institution; • Need to engage and develop staff accordingly, whilst recognising current expertise and activity; • Three-stage pilot, using technological solutions to share practice and facilitate dialogue and learning; • Needs constant energy and enthusiasm from all; • Has potential for engagement beyond the faculty and institution.
Your thoughts? • Are you doing something like this? • How do your colleagues create space for dialogue about pedagogic practice? • Wider application? • Have you got experience of using this technology … or another appropriate platform perhaps?
References Barr, R. B. and Tagg, J. 1995 ‘From Teaching to Learning: A New Paradigm for Higher Education’ Change Magazine, 27 (6): 12-25 Neary, M. (2010) Student as Producer: Research-Engaged Teaching and Learning at the University of Lincoln (User’s Guide 2010-2011) University of Lincoln Brew, A. (2006) Research and Teaching: Beyond the Divide Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan Healey, M. and Jenkins, A. (2009) Developing Undergraduate Research and Enquiry York: Higher Education Academy Neary, M. and Winn, J. (2009) ‘Student as Producer: Reinventing the student experience in higher education’ in L. Bell, H. Stevenson and M. Neary (2009) The Future of Higher Education Policy, Pedagogy and the Student Experience London: Continuum
For further information, or to discuss potential collaborative research opportunities, please contact: Karin Crawfordkcrawford@lincoln.ac.uk University of Lincoln Brayford Pool Lincoln LN6 7TS United Kingdom