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A geography degree in the 21st century: what should it be?

A geography degree in the 21st century: what should it be?

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A geography degree in the 21st century: what should it be?

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  1. A geography degree in the 21st century:what should it be? (like)? And how it might help attraction & retention Brian Whalley Queens University Belfast NB, for this GEES website version I have: i. Added the ‘Stickies’ responses from the session ( lilac slides) ii Added some pertinent references (pale green slide) iii Included some other slides that might have gone into a session for a longer period within the sequence but not shown (marked *) iv At the end some slides developing some of the ideas (these mainly relate to developing ideas in explicit/tacit knowledge and skills implementation etc.

  2. What is the greatest problem we face with our students(please vote, for all of the following) • Retention • Engagement • Attending lectures • Attending tutorials • Results: too long a ‘tail’ • ie too many 3rds and 2iis, or too few 1st and 2i • Others? • Are any of these linked? GEES conference 2007

  3. *Question If you are a ‘teacher’, what are you in your subject (at HE, FE) for? • To research? • Subtext: to produce research students? • To teach geography? • Subtext: to really get them to understand my L3 option? • To empower students to become good graduates • Subtext: to instill a good measure of ‘graduateness’ And what do your colleagues/HoD/VC think you are there to do? GEES conference 2007

  4. Posing the question:where are we coming from? • Questions at school career meetings • What can I do with ‘geography’? • What can my son/daughter do with it? • Our responses: • Pretty much anything….. • Special sessions for brain surgery • Ok, well Masters Courses can lead on • The unstated questions: • What can students do with ‘a degree’? • How do we cope with 50% participation? GEES conference 2007

  5. Being provocative…….. • The late 20C curriculum is Victorian! • Geography (or E or ES) knowledge doesn’t matter (as such) • Some intervention ideas • Do what the government wants us to do • Do what students want - employability skills • What cognitive psychology suggests we might do • What I suggest (!) increase coursework, decrease essays and essay exams - these are elitist. • Moreover, we need assessment methods which are experiential and relate to employability GEES conference 2007

  6. So, what do properties do you want a geography graduate to have in 2010? • So - you’ve guessed it • Take a Post It • Write on two attributes • No more than a two word phrase • (as large as possible) • Pass the PI to the end of the line • Please stick it on the large sheet (see next 3 pages for results) • Then think about how we did this operation [we often have to be quite explicit and perhaps assume tacit knowledge] GEES conference 2007

  7. Workshop comments:What do you want a geography (GEES) graduate to be? 1 • Computing skills • Ability to critically assess information • Community Awareness • Appropriate skills • Far seeing • Do the job • Interpret • Synthesise • Literacy curiosity • Capacity to think • Capacity to apply knowledge in a range of relevant contexts GEES conference 2007

  8. What do you want a geography (GEES) graduate to be? 2 • Able to articulate ‘debates’ in written/oral form • Confident, independent learners • Know about geography at an appropriate level • Confident, articulate flexible • Application of knowledge • Ability to research independently • Request assistance • Numeracy & Literacy • Good communicator • Good researcher GEES conference 2007

  9. What do you want a geography (GEES) graduate to be? 3 • Ability to recognise relevance of subject knowledge • Flexible • Independent • Executive summary • Mathematical skills • Problem solving • Desire to continue learning • Problem solving • Appreciate scientific/quantitative base to physical processes • Willingness to grapple with ‘difficult’ aspects of study GEES conference 2007

  10. * Where are we going to? The concept of ‘Graduateness’ • Graduate standards programme (report) Using: • Benchmarks • ‘better’ ways of teaching • Assessment - more experiential • Recognising tacit knowledge requirements • ‘Feedback’ methods GEES conference 2007

  11. How are we getting there? • Attracting more students • With (probably) continuingly decreased resources • Fewer staff • A continued research culture • Implications for attracting • Implications for retaining students GEES conference 2007

  12. Now, why did I say …… • The late 20C curriculum is Victorian! • Do you agree? (Hands show) • Reasons for ‘Yes’ • Reasons for ‘No’ GEES conference 2007

  13. How do we get from there to here? • Using a Victorian legacy! • Yes, I think it is (see also quote in Notes section) • Think about the way we do things; • Assessment, exams and CA • Write all you know about ….. • What is in your lab report, field note book? • Filling 24 t-table slots with 24 lectures • Scribbling comments on essays and calling this ‘feedback’ • Doing this with students from a league table environment • More on this from elsewhere GEES conference 2007

  14. * Drew 1998……… This model of a liberal education for an elite few and these prejudices against vocational education and skills persist, despite the evidence of Britain’s relative economic difficulties in the global context. The British higher education system was designed for a minority, for an age when knowledge changed slowly, and when jobs were frequently ‘for life’, whereas in the modern world, there is mass participation in higher education, knowledge and technology advance rapidly and short contract and portfolio work is increasing Quote from Washer 2007 GEES conference 2007

  15. * Employment and Employability • Government (and HEA) statement • Leitch report (you might not like it but…) • • Employers etc (see presentations by Chris Thomas and Tony Grindrod) • Do our ‘Victorian’ colleagues see employability as a dirty word? GEES conference 2007

  16. * If we want to go there, how might we get there? • And what is the relationship to retention? • Engagement? - what do we mean? • See next slide • Initial Engagement at entry • What turns students off? • What turns students on? • Experiential learning • If so, why is this now not available in A Level? GEES conference 2007

  17. Student ‘engagement’ • A current topic of discussion • Students lack engagement • More than just an absence at lectures • Lack of response to feedback • Lack of doing things properly include • Lack of following (understanding) assessment criteria • Lack of professionalism (PDP etc) GEES conference 2007

  18. Starting point.What are we providing…..? • Statements from institutions… • How meaningful are these? What do they say? Endeavour but ‘how do you know’? Crucial question. • Do statements and responses from quality assurance committees etc have meaning? • Yes, (perhaps) with the old system, not with the new. • Does anybody? GEES conference 2007

  19. * The need to start again - with a new endpoint in view • Graduateness (in geography, etc) • How do we get there? If we lose engagement early on then it’s lost (or at least reduced) GEES conference 2007

  20. What do students say they want? • And what do they get - and how do we know? Have we asked them? ‘Put bluntly, the vast majority of students around the world go to university with the prime, perhaps even sole, aim of enhancing their career prospects’ Washer 2007 GEES conference 2007

  21. Asking students what they want • Apart from loaded questions and that they don’t really know what they want… • Responses……? • Do students know the range of instruction and assessment types? • Not if we don’t use them! GEES conference 2007

  22. Is graduateness more than keyskills (etc)? • Communication skills • Working with others • Problem solving • Numeracy, Graphicacy, literacy • The use of information technology • Learning how to learn • Personal and Professional development Washer 2007 GEES conference 2007

  23. Other attributes (than Washer’s)? • Professionalism • Handing things in on time, • Attending meetings on time • Doing a good job of things • Tacit knowledge • Should students be learning a lot of things as tacit rather than explicit GEES conference 2007

  24. Tacit knowledge is knowledge that people carry in their minds and is, therefore, difficult to access. Often, people are not aware of the knowledge they possess or how it can be valuable to others. ……valuable because it provides context for people, places, ideas, and experiences. Effective transfer generally requires extensive personal contact and trust. is not easily shared. "We know more than we can tell." (Polanyi’) ….onsists often of habits and culture that we do not recognize in ourselves. In the field of knowledge management it refers to a knowledge which is only known by an individual and that is difficult to communicate to the rest of an organization. The process of transforming tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge is known as codification or articulation GEES conference 2007

  25. Do we over instruct? • ‘See this’, ‘do that’ • (with a full set of instructions) • Lab class fieldwork • Analysis of note books suggest student often miss the point - prolific - but not skilled note takers or sketchers • What, and where, are the sticking points? • Essay writing - can this be done from a book? • Do we over-instruct using essays as assessment? GEES conference 2007

  26. Explicit as tacit? • But tacit is more difficult to convey • Can this be done in a ‘pre-Victorian’ manner? • Apprenticeships of old • Adso of Melk and William of Baskerville • Not Socratic but Apostolic(Gk: messenger) GEES conference 2007

  27. "The brain is a machine with limited resources for processing the enormous quantity of information received by the senses. As a result, attention is extremely selective and the brain must rely on all sorts of shortcuts if it is to cope effectively.”Clive Shepherd on material by Itiel Dror How best to use this? How can we convey the necessary tacit information which the shortcuts often require? GEES conference 2007

  28. Some things we might do in (developing) this new scenario - using experiential attributes • Provide explicit assessment criteria • Follow 1 up in feedback • Provide more explicit and directed learning opportunities (linked with 1) • Expect professional results (from entry) • Provide tools, guidance and use and experience for 4 GEES conference 2007

  29. Constructivist Assessment Cycle Explicit Criteria Active engagement with feedback Active engagement with criteria Self-assessment with submission of work Price and O’Donovan 2006 GEES conference 2007

  30. Can tacit knowledge be added via feedback? • Taking basic knowledge and extending it • Negotiation - how well is it done? • Information handling, video conferencing etc • Personal information strategy GEES conference 2007

  31. Linking criteria, tacit knowledge and employability skills Breaking down a practical into task components such that problem areas can be identified. Here, sub-tasks in red might be tacit knowledge that needs special attention to convey to students. Incidentally, this Concept Map was constructed with the free tools from: GEES conference 2007

  32. References Skills Washer, P. 2007 Revisiting Key Skills: A Practical Framework for Higher Education. Quality in Higher Education, V. 13, 1, 57-67. Drew, S. 1998 Key skills in higher education: background and rationale. SEDA, Special Publication No. 6 Fallows, S. & Steven, C. 2000 Integrating key skills into higher education. Kogan Page. (See esp. papers by, O’Brien, Ability-based education; Harding, Creating incurable learners; Fallows and Weller, a graduate apprenticeship scheme [esp re some of the Talks at the GEES conference]; De la Harpe and Radloff, Helping academic staff to integrate professional skills) Knight, P.T. 2001 Employability and quality. Quality in Higher Education, V. 7, 2, 93-5. Cognitive Psychology See papers by Dror in Learning Light Or on his Website: Criteria Referencing in Assessment Price, M. and O'Donovan, B. 2006 Improving performance through enhancing student understanding of criteria and feedback. In: Innovative Assessment in Higher Education, Eds Bryan, C and Clegg, K. Routledge, 100-109 GEES conference 2007

  33. End of slides used The following slides are ones in that I might have used and are also preparation for something on the development of feedback provision. Actually, I want to get away from using ‘feedback’; in control systems the term means something somewhat different from its use in assessment. GEES conference 2007

  34. OK, enough of me being provocative!Are there things we can do to engage students and answr some of th questions posed previously? GEES conference 2007

  35. Tinto 1993 Academicexperiences integration Intentions, aims,commitments Intentions, aims,commitments Departuredecision Pre-entryattributes Socialexperiences GEES conference 2007

  36. What is experiential learning?* • Experiential teaching? • Experiential learning? • But can we have: • Experiential assessment? • Experiential feedback? • Are active experiences (f’d trips, practicals) truly experiential? • Moving from explicit to tacit knowledge transfer GEES conference 2007

  37. Tacit knowledge (elements, skills) • What is it? • How can we build it in? • How can we assess it? • Can we practice it? • Is this useful knowledge that students could use? GEES conference 2007

  38. Tacit knowledgeexamples we might identify • How to do/decide/check/estimate… • Project planning • Tools to use • Methods to use • What to do and what not (and why) GEES conference 2007

  39. The system • Defined however you want: • Department/staff/students/administrators • Institutionally – what across the sector? • Is the system adaptive • Is the system providing experiential learning (active learning) • What do we really mean by experiential learning? • Can this be achieved by examinations (or examination style systems, such as essays?) • Experiential means more than just doing • Close marking with criteria-referenced assessment GEES conference 2007

  40. The role of PDP • Will PDP help? • It probably has to! • Guidance in tacit knowledge skills • Making sure students know what the questions are from their point of view GEES conference 2007

  41. The role of employability • What is employability? ‘However, although the employability and skills agendas are often equated, they are not necessarily identical’ Washer 2007 Is it just the means of assembling skills such that students become more employable? GEES conference 2007

  42. Examples in assessment? • Price & O’Donnovan (Mini-grid). Is this level-referenced? • Does it have sufficient criteria which students can be shown what is required (is this showing tacit knowledge? - I think it probably is) GEES conference 2007

  43. Other aspects • Consciousness and self-awareness • A complex relationship in cognitive psychology and philosophy • Try: ‘self awareness’ = reflecting on the experience • Can we bring this into doing tasks? • The importance of coursework • Inclusivity of the educating process • = Consciousness + self awareness GEES conference 2007

  44. Instead of: Write an essay on.. Why not: Write a briefing note on… Construct a Concept Map to… Write a research proposal to … Plan a project to... Design a publicity brochure to.. Design an instruction manual to.. and within these introduce: costings ethics, safety, risk analysis project planning and scheduling professionalism in production Employability skills GEES conference 2007

  45. It’s not what you teach… But they way that students learn which counts Without going deeply into this we can recognise some important aspects in education GEES conference 2007

  46. Meta-cognitive skills • Are important • Not easy to ‘learn’ • Even more difficult to ‘teach’ • You have to experience them • And practice them (strategies) • Tacit skills and knowledge? GEES conference 2007

  47. Learning strategies for effective learning *(Dror) • Cognition and learning are dependant on 2 distinct processing mechanisms: • Bottom up: controlled by info coming in to the cognitive system (Driven by the information itself -mind is passive) • Top down:rely on the person and what is in the cognitive system already: know, expect, mental state, previous experiences • The Top down play an important part in the motivation GEES conference 2007

  48. Revising how we look at and use ‘feedback’ • Although widely used, ‘feedback’ is not a useful, or misleading, term • At least when applied to control systems • Which is what we have when looking at staff-student information transfer • This is something I am trying to develop using a constructivist approach • See following slide by Rust GEES conference 2007

  49. Constructivist feedback: Rust 2007 GEES conference 2007

  50. Constructivist Assessment Cycleas an information control system T - task instructions C - assessment criteria Explicit Criteria for task Student Student Checks S is aware of C Provides T Active engagement with feedback Active engagement with criteria Tutor Provides Self-assessment with submission of work Checks C against T Student Student Modified from: Price and O’Donovan 2006 GEES conference 2007