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Action Research and Pedagogy
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  1. Action Research and Pedagogy Lin Norton Education Deanery Liverpool Hope

  2. Outline of presentation • The need for reflective practice in teaching • What is pedagogical action research? • Practical suggestions for carrying out par projects • Suggested workshop activity exploring the potential of the Ideal*** Inventory as a research tool for par CARN Study Day

  3. Why is it important for university teachers to be reflective practitioners? • The government agenda on: • widening participation in HE • professionalisation of university teachers • The need to take account of the student experience • Personal and professional satisfaction CARN Study Day

  4. The Government Agenda on: widening participation • Continue to increase participation of 18-30yr olds to 50% • Meet economy's need for higher level skills • Raise participation for students from non-traditional backgrounds and lower income families • Establish stronger links with business and economy (DfES, 2003).    CARN Study Day

  5. Diversity of students and widening participation • Since the diversity of students has so dramatically increased, our previous assumptions about them may be very wide of the mark (Gibbs & Simpson, 2003): • Sophistication of knowledge background & study skills • Conceptions of learning (Saljo,1979; Marton, Dall’Alba & Beatty,1993) • Conception of knowledge (Perry, 1970) • Expectations of higher education (Sander et al, 2000) CARN Study Day

  6. First year students • Do not read readily • Are not as numerate or as computerate as we assume • Do not find it easy to write (essays, lab reports, exam answers) • Dislike group work and team working and presentations • Have a conception of learning that is passive and incremental rather than active and transformational • Believe that knowledge is certain and stable • Are strategic in their approaches to studying (they see the assessment as defining the curriculum) • Expect that they will be taught rather than having to be autonomous learners • Distrust self and peer assessment • Are scared of problem-based learning approaches CARN Study Day

  7. Some questions to promote reflective practice in teaching ( adapted from Brown, 1999) • What kinds of things do we want our students to learn? • What learning opportunities do we provide? • •What feedback do we provide? • •What assessment tasks do we set? • •What methods of assessment do we use? • •What do the students learn? • •HOW DO WE KNOW?…. CARN Study Day

  8. How do we know??? • Through assessment? – strategic students, declarative rather than functioning knowledge (Biggs 2002) • Through course evaluation? – influenced by student characteristics and lecture charisma • Through pedagogical research – generic (scholarship of teaching and learning) and subject specific. • Through carrying out our own action research where the aim is to modify practice CARN Study Day

  9. The Influence of the Higher Education Academy “The student experience is the main function of higher education. We have to take that experience seriously - we need a national body to raise its standing.” Leslie WagnerInterim Chair of the HE Academy CARN Study Day

  10. HEA strategic plan 2005-2010 • Strategic aims and objectives • To be an authoritative and independent voice on policies that influence student learning experiences • To support institutions in their strategies for improving the student learning experience • To lead, support and inform the professional development and recognition of staff in higher education • To promote good practice in all aspects of support for the student learning experience • To lead the development of research and evaluation to improve the quality of the student learning experience • To be a responsive, efficient and accountable organisation CARN Study Day

  11. So what does it mean for us and our teaching ? • Pedagogical publications will help professionalise the role of the teacher in higher education. • The knowledge that we get from researching our own teaching can be put to immediate practical use, unlike some more theoretical or abstract research. • Researching our own teaching encourages us to learn from the wider pedagogical research literature. • Pedagogical research is increasingly being recognised as RAE research output. CARN Study Day

  12. What is Action Research? “ practitioners developing their understanding of their professional practice- not by reference to any externally generated theory or generalised principles but by reference to their experience tested in their own environment… (Bridges, 2003, p183) CARN Study Day

  13. Action Research in the context of pedagogy “ The primary aim of action research is to solve a problem within the process of the research. In the context of teaching your subject, it contributes both to pedagogical knowledge and to the subsequent modification of your teaching practice and your students’ learning… …It is a cyclical process of planning, action, and investigating the state of affairs after action has occurred” Lindsay, Breen & Jenkins (2002) CARN Study Day

  14. How to get funding / support [1] The Higher Education Academy's Connectsservices:http://www.connect.ac.uk • FundingThis comprehensive search facility is the place to find financial support for education projects, services and research. All current funding opportunities across the sector are listed, easily searchable by a number of criteria.ProjectsAccess over 1000 centrally-funded learning and teaching projects: details of workshops, case studies and other investigations focused around both generic and discipline-specific themes can be found here. CARN Study Day

  15. How to get funding/support [2] • HEA subject network: • Many subject networks fund projects up to £5000 • Some offer small amounts of money ( £30 -£300) for case studies • PAR funding at Hope: • (annual up to £1,000 on annual theme) CARN Study Day

  16. Advice on project planning • Identify a project for which there is a teaching or learning need and seek innovative ways of addressing the issues. (Charles Juwah, Robert Gordon University) • Keep the project realistic…have SMART objectives, look for opportunities to disseminate information both internally and externally (Bernard Moss & Susan Wright, Staffordshire University CARN Study Day

  17. How to disseminate pedagogical action research projects Through Learning and teaching Conferences: Improving Student Learning Symposia (ISL) Higher Education Academy Conference European Association for Research into Learning and Instruction (EARLI) CARN Study Day

  18. Disseminating through Journals • Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/02602938.asp • Innovations in Educational and Teaching International http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/14703297.asp • Studies in Higher Education http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/03075079.asp • Educational Action Research http://www.triangle.co.uk/ear/ CARN Study Day

  19. Recent examples of action research issues in Psychology • Should a research methods course be teacher led or student-orientated? (Shortt, 2002; Mason, 2002) • Can we use more detailed assessment criteria to increase marking reliability and give better feedback to students? (Elander, 2002) • How can we deal with students’ dislike of presentations? (Sander, Sanders & Stevenson, 2002) • How can we respond to students need for more tutor support and contact in a work-based module? (Wrennall & Forbes, 2002) CARN Study Day

  20. The process of carrying out Action Research: an easy step by step approach ITDEM Identifying a problem/paradox/ issue/difficulty Thinking of ways to tackle the problem Doing it Evaluating it Modifying future teaching. Norton (2001) CARN Study Day

  21. Using the Ideal***Inventory to research learning and teaching issues • Originated as the Ideal Self Inventory (Norton, Morgan & Thomas, 1995), later developed to measure perceptions of: • Students (Tilley & Norton, 1998; Williamson & Norton, 2002) • Lectures (Mazuro et al, 2000) • Distance learning tasks (Garner et al, 2001) • Curriculum (Norton, 2001) • Musical performance (Walters, 2001) • The really good student (Walters & Norton, 2004) CARN Study Day

  22. What makes a really good student? The ideal ***inventory      • In the column headed ‘the really good student’ write down up to five qualities or abilities that you think a really good Higher Education student has. • In the column headed ‘the not very good student’ write down the opposite of these qualities or abilities. It does not necessarily have to be the ‘literal’ opposite. It could be something that a not very good student does or is instead of what a really good student does or is. • the really good student:the not very good student: 3. By circling one of the seven marks between each of your two statements please express how close you feel you come to being a really good student at this point in time. For example, if you feel you are very close to the really good student’s ability or quality, circle the mark nearest that column. If you feel you are the complete opposite, circle the mark nearest the not very good student column. If you are somewhere in between, then circle the mark that best represents your position. CARN Study Day

  23. Workshop suggestion for small group discussion STEP 1.Each individual completes a blank inventory on the: ‘ideal’ student lecturer assessment task lecture seminar STEP 2. In groups, agree a composite inventory STEP 3. If appropriate, rate yourselves or your own experience using the composite version CARN Study Day

  24. References For a complete list of references, please email Lin at: nortonl@hope.ac.uk CARN Study Day