HELTASA conference, 2011 – day 3

Today was the last day of the HELTASA 2011 conference. It was a challenging and stimulating exchange of ideas that I really enjoyed. Thank you to everyone who was there and who I learned from.

 

Crossing (some) traditional borders
Prof Delia Marshall

There needs to be wider social, historical, ethical and environmental dimensions of science

Students need to graduate not only with domain expertise but with broader attributes that contribute towards the public good

Start with “modern” physics, with an emphasis on new ideas and concepts, rather than an equations

Resist scientism: science as “a” way of knowing about the world, not the only way

Draw in wider cultural dimensions and interests e.g. students who play instruments come in when there is a discussion on vibration / sound, etc.

“Border crossing” inot the sub-culture of science

Learning as a process of identity formation through accessing a disciplinary discourse

Looking at interactive engagement in classroom communities e.g. SCALE-UP classrooms using “lec-torials” → short lecturer inputs, working in groups, extensive and immediate feedback, learning happens in class, you can’t pass by borrowing notes

University needs to be a place for the “difficult dialogues”

Conceptualise academic literacy, not as skills, but as the social practices of discipline communities

If learning is social, then commitment from the whole department is vital. You can’t have a marginalised programme within the department

 

Len Steenkamp
Students appreciate honesty from teachers, especially when we say “I don’t know, let’s find out together”

Teachers need to be compassionate, every student has their own story
Teachers need to be humble
Teachers need to change, but not for it’s own sake, must be driven by a need

Engage in research because you want answers, not because you have to

Be generous with your time

21st century teaching tales
Liezel Nel

Electronic worksheets before attending class, must answer questions to familiarise students with content, class is used for discussion, not covering content. Worksheets also used for self-assessment (what tools?)

Students can practice using the tools in a non-assessed environment, tools introduced gradually

Uses reflective activities mid-semester and end-of-semester, much more useful than official course evaluations at end of year

Lecture recordings in audio and video, posted afterwards, useful for students with language difficulties

Students submit digital assignments, feedback in same format

Uses SMS for regular communication with students, establish a sense of caring and trust (community) “I felt a little bit special”

Glogs: online, interactive posters, students add interactive elements to their posters (glogster

Scholarship not just about publications

 

Digital storytelling and reflection in higher education: a case of pre-service student teachers and a University of Technology
Eunice Ivala, Daniela Gachago, Janet Condy, Agnes Chigona

There is a focus on passing exams, rather than on the learning process
No research on digital storytelling in higher education in South Africa, as well as limited evidence that reflective opportunities are effective

Digital story: short, 5 minute first person video-narrative, created by combining voice, still and moving images, and music or other audio

Project took place over 8 weeks, with the intention of reflecting-on-action on 7 roles of a teacher, a seed story was created to demonstrate to students, had to be 500 words

Students could choose a paper-based portfolio, or to use the digital story (half chose either one → students made their own choices)

Students had to be shown how to write their stories, learn how to find relevant images or music. Some students asked colleagues to sing for them and recorded their own music, and also took their own pictures. Also needed training in digital manipulation tools.

Used Strampel and Oliver (2007) to determine levels of reflection and stages of cognitive processing

Structuraction theory (Giddens, 1984): material resources influence social practices through their incorporation

“I’ve always known what the 7 roles were but I didn’t know what they meant and what they meant to me, but now, after incorporating it into my story, I kind of understand what they are about” (paraphrased quote from student)

The Structure of digital storytelling enabled the Agents (students), whereas before students were not enabled

“Paper-based reflections lose the personality along the way. You lose the effect of you wating to show somebody what this reflection really means. In a digital story you get the tone and atmosphere across with your own voice”

Students reflected at descriptive, dialogic and critical levels (not all students though, some only at a descriptive level)

“We can use these stories for our future employers…this is who I am, this is what I am about”

Question: why did some students not reflect at the higher cognitive levels?

Focus should be on the content of the story, not the technology because technology does nothing, except as implicated in the actions of human beings (Giddens and Pierson, 1982:82)

 

Improving teaching and learning in higher education through practitioner self-enquiry action research (action research for professional development)
Kathleen Pithouse-Morgan, Mark Schofield, Lesley Wood, Omar Esau, Joan Conolly (panel discussion)

An approach to action research in which the object of the study is the self

Trust is important for encouraging “nervous and novice” researchers (“The speed of trust” – Stephen Covey)

Integrity and honesty builds trust

Courage and generosity (“Courage to teach” – Palmer Parker)
See also, Jack Whitehead (actionresearch.net)

Recognise the unique and situated nature of the novice researcher

Learning through direct experience is more valuable than being told about something

Emphasis on “critical friendship” as part of validation

Be more understanding of the “lived experiences” of others

“People get smarter by having conversations with people who are smart”

Action research is a paradigm i.e. more than a research method

In South Africa we need critical, emancipatory paradigms that promote social change and uphold the values of the constitution

There is a lack of participatory, learner-centred pedagogies

Action research gives rise to dynamic, personal and life changing theories that operationalise the values of inclusion, people-centredness, democracy, social justice, compassion, respect. It is critical, evaluative, participatory and collaborative. It holds people to be accountable, self-evaluative and focuses on lifelong learning.

It is difficult to validate action research i.e. it must be trustworthy

Action research has the potential to minimise the hard borders between curriculum design and its delivery. The academic operates simultaneously as a researcher, designer, practitioner, and evaluator, while following an iterative and systematic process that leads to continual improvement in the curriculum, as well as teaching and learning practices.

Finding a balance between support and challenge