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Becoming legitimate: promoting the use of reciprocal peer learning for early career academics

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  1. Becoming legitimate: promoting the use of reciprocal peer learning for early career academics • Session outcomes • Identify some difficulties experienced by early career academics • Present a post workshop support intervention • Evaluate and discuss this intervention Stuart McGugan & Christos Petichakis Centre for Lifelong Learning Educational Development Division

  2. Central support available for GTAs & Research Staff • Our aim • To offer development opportunities for early career academics to support their progression to academia, as well as any other career destination • Range of training: • Learning and teaching • Interpersonal skills • Research skills • Career management • Delivery methods • Half/full day workshops, lunchtime sessions, videos, online training, one-to one support sessions

  3. Reflect on our practice (2007 - 2008) • Workshop evaluations • 2 surveys - July 2007 CROSurvey - Feb 2008 • In-depth interviews

  4. Our workshops infuence practice Did workshop/peers/department influence your practice? Formal “off the job” training does seem to make a positive contribution

  5. Some participant responses… “When doing the comments on students’ assignment, I found it quite useful to use the sandwich approach” “Yes it did, especially the part about conferences, how to approach and talk to the main speaker” “I used some of the teaching methods presented in my tutorials with satisfying results (e.g. alternation of group/individual pair work; post-it feedback)”

  6. The influence of peers • The workshop format facilitates ‘reciprocal peer learning’ • developing skills of collaboration, teamwork and help develop confidence when discussing practice with others • However, at departments peer learning depends on the support available (this is variable)

  7. Reciprocal peer learning is taking place… “It just let me in on others peoples ideas” “Another student gave me the idea of making groups do spider diagrams” “I discussed with fellow postgraduates how they led the seminars and took on board some of their suggestions” “It improved upon my ability to articulate ideas in a group setting e.g. in my meeting with my supervisor and colleagues” “It is useful to have the opportunity to talk to others, but it doesn’t really happen here. It is necessary for someone to create these opportunities”

  8. Inconsistent departmental support

  9. A participant’s response… When you take up your first postdoctoral position, I feel the options of career choice etc that such a job can lead to should be given. Some people seem ‘in the know’ as to their options of applying for Fellowships etc, and that seems to depend in what department you are in and who you supervisor is. Others seem to get lost in postdoctoral positions going from on to another without any guidance or career development.

  10. Lack of status • Limited recognition • Exclusion from practice • Limited opportunities for development • Ambiguous identity

  11. A participant’s response… “I feel strongly about not being equal to academic staff in the department and my exclusion from departmental meetings. This is where meaningful discussions and decisions take place. Researchers are told what the department wants to do about research but Researchers are not asked”

  12. Another participant said… “I am not a full member of staff. I feel I am teaching on the 2nd level of teaching, that is tutorials. I perceive this as second level, it is the exercises, it is not the primary information. I am not yet on the level of being able to lecture… Apparently! ”

  13. In summary • Workshop support is “working” • Focus: post workshop, what can we do to: • sustain learning from workshop • build up a relationship with central support unit • encourage dialogue about practice • One idea: a postcard souvenir

  14. Postcard examples ... Research Staff DevelopmentThe University of Liverpool Giving a good lecture GTA Learning and Teaching WorkshopsSmall Group Teaching

  15. How the postcards were received? • Postcard as a reminder of workshop learning has been successful • Postcard as a source of information has been successful • Postcard as a prompt for dialogue – limited evidence to support this function

  16. Discussion – Future development • We feel that the postcard has potential In small groups share your views on the following: • What could we do to improve the postcard, in particular to encourage greater peer dialogue/learning? • More generally, how else might we stimulate post workshop peer learning? • How else can we support early career academics to legitimise their practice? Each group to report back its two “best” suggestions/recommendations

  17. Contact us GTA programme leader Stuart McGugan s.mcgugan@liv.ac.uk Research staff programme leader Christos Petichakis c.petichakis@liv.ac.uk