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Learning and Teaching Forum 2013 Transformative learning through critically reflective inquiry Wednesday, June 26, 2013 Carolin Kreber School of Education.

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Presentation on theme: "Learning and Teaching Forum 2013 Transformative learning through critically reflective inquiry Wednesday, June 26, 2013 Carolin Kreber School of Education."— Presentation transcript:

1 Learning and Teaching Forum 2013 Transformative learning through critically reflective inquiry Wednesday, June 26, 2013 Carolin Kreber School of Education University of Edinburgh

2 OUTLINE: 10 points What is PTAS for? 1.Inspires a particular professional practice: The 'scholarship of teaching and learning' 2.A professional practice based on inquiry 3.Directed at the question: How can we help students learn and develop? Or, more profoundly, how can we enhance the students' capabilities to succeed in their academic studies but also in their continuing learning in the spheres of professional practice and civic life? 4.What challenges await students both during their studies and after graduation? 5.It is in the students' important interests that they be afforded opportunities to move beyond frames of reference that limit how they make meaning of their experiences and thus engage in ‘transformative learning’.

3 6.Transformative learning leads, on the one hand, to more valid conceptions of the subject matter and on the other to greater agency and personal commitments. 7.PTAS is also a way that encourages university teachers to engage in transformative learning about their own teaching practice. 8.Scholarship, understood as critically reflective inquiry, is fundamentally about encouraging transformative learning among students and academics. 9.The goal of PTAS, then, is to support significant learning on two levels: a. Students are supported in their learning b. Academics are supported in their development as teachers 10.The key concept underpinning both academics’ engagement with teaching and student learning at university is ‘scholarship’

4 A broadened notion of ‘scholarship’ with ‘scholarship of teaching’ as one domain of academic practice (Boyer, 1990) Scholarship

5 Potential meanings of the term ‘scholarship of teaching’ The nature of the ‘scholarship of teaching’ (1) the activity of university teaching, naturally underpinned by the scholarship of the discipline that is taught (e.g., what we have come to know about history, chemistry; psychology, etc) Process (2) the activity academics become involved in as they inquire into their own teaching and the learning of their students (reminiscent of Stenhouse’s ‘teacher researcher’) Process (3) the activity academics become involved in as they apply research evidence produced by educational researchers to their own teaching practice Process (4) the knowledge about teaching and learning that educational researchers have produced over the years that is now accessible through books, articles and conference presentations Product

6 If in doubt consult ‘Wikipedia’…?? ► “The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL or SoTL; pronounced so'tl saw'tl or S O T L) is a growing movement in post-secondary education. SOTL is scholarly inquiry into student learning which advances the practice of teaching by making research findings public”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholarship_of_Teaching_and _Learning) _Learninghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scholarship_of_Teaching_and _Learning

7 This conventional view seems rather narrow One might instead consider: ► a broader understanding of the relationships between teaching and scholarship; ► a less restricted perspective on what counts as relevant inquiry in relation to university teaching; ► a more creative understanding of ‘going public’.

8 What do we mean by ‘scholarship’ (Andresen, 2000)? Scholarship ► deep knowledge base ► inquiry orientation ► critical reflectivity ► peer review and going/making public

9 ‘Scholarship ‘: The central feature of university teaching and learning Scholarship -deep knowledge base -inquiry orientation -critical reflectivity -peer review and going/making public Students: develop capabilities to succeed in their present studies and future continuing learning Academics: Professional engagement with teaching/ learning about teaching and developing as teachers

10 The linkages between a broader notion of scholarship and learning Engagement Serving the community Discovery Inquiry-based learning Integration Working across different perspectives and disciplines Teaching Professional engagement with teaching Scholarship

11 ‘Critical reflectivity’ and scholarship ► Scholarship = ‘critically reflective inquiry’ ► Critically reflective inquiry, or simply critical reflection, may lead to ‘transformative learning’ (TF) ► TF: Revised understandings, ideally leading to (revised) actions. ► ‘Revised understandings’, resulting from critical reflection, may relate to understanding the in a new way (e.g., threshold concept acquisition) but may relate also to new understandings of oneself. ► ‘Revised understandings’, resulting from critical reflection, may relate to understanding the subject matter in a new way (e.g., threshold concept acquisition) but may relate also to new understandings of oneself. ► A particular interpretation of critical reflection would involve reflection on social structures and ideologies as well as beliefs about oneself that often conspire to foster conformity and prevent identities being grounded in a sense of responsible agency and commitment.

12 Tranformative learning Is this relevant to the university? ► A. What do we want students to learn at university? How do we conceive of the nature of important learning that we hope students will experience while studying with us? ► B. How do we conceive of our own learning, here our ‘learning about teaching’? A and B are based on Scholarship ► deep knowledge base ► inquiry orientation ► critical reflectivity ► peer review and going/making public

13 Transformative learning defined (more than one definition) ► ► Transformative learning involves experiencing a deep, structural shift in the basic premises of thought, feelings, and actions. It is a shift of consciousness that dramatically and irreversibly alters our way of being in the world. Such a shift involves our understanding of ourselves and our self-locations; our relationships with other humans and with the natural world; our understanding of relations of power in interlocking structures of class, race and gender; our body awarenesses, our visions of alternative approaches to living; and our sense of possibilities for social justice and peace and personal joy (Sullivan, 1999).

14 ► ► Transformative learning is the expansion of consciousness through the transformation of basic worldview and specific capacities of the self; transformative learning is facilitated through consciously directed processes such as appreciatively accessing and receiving the symbolic contents of the unconscious and critically analyzing underlying premises. (Mezirow, 1991, 2000)

15 Different ways of ‘being reflective’? ► ► 1. Problem description   Describing the problem, one’s beliefs about the problem and what one feels needs to be done in this situation. ► ► 2. Problem-solving  a.) “How effective am I with solving this problem?”  (instrumental learning),  b.) “What is the most meaningful thing to do here?”  (communicative learning) ► ► 3. Reframing   What is the underlying premise? Is there an alternative?   How have I come to think that? Why do I believe this?  (emancipatorylearning)  Can the problem be posed differently? (emancipatorylearning)

16 Critical reflection on what? (Mezirow, 1991) ► ► Psychological perspectives -Reflection on any thoughts, feelings and perceptions we have developed regarding our self-confidence, self- efficacy, self-concept, etc ► ► Epistemic perspectives -Reflection on the beliefs we hold about the nature, limits and certainty of knowledge ► ► Socio-linguistic perspectives -reflection on the various beliefs, expectations and ways of justification that we ‘learn’ as being true or morally desirable through our interactions with the various communities we are part of

17 Ten steps in the TF model ► ► a disorienting dilemma; ► ► self-examination; ► ► a critical assessment of assumption; ► ► recognition that one's discontent and process of transformation are shared and that others have negotiated a similar change; ► ► exploration of options for new roles, relationships, and actions; ► ► planning of a course of action; ► ► acquisition of knowledge and skills for implementing one's plans; ► ► provisionally trying out new roles; ► ► building of competence and self-confidence in new roles and relationships; and ► ► a reintegration of new assumption into one's life on the basis of conditions dictated by one's new perspective.

18 TF is rare but significant Reframing ‘Subjective Reframing’ and ‘Objective Reframing ’ Problem- solving ‘Objective Framing’ ‘Inter-subjective Understanding/Framing’ Problem description ‘Objective Framing’ ‘Inter-subjective Understanding/Framing’

19 It’s about testing validity claims ► ► Reflection is a response to an unsettling situation (Dewey, 1933). ► ► In order to make unsettling situations more controllable we refer to standards of inquiry appropriate for certain types of inquiry: ► ► Scientific approaches (try to explain) ► ► Communicative practices (try to reach understanding) ► ► Emancipatory practices (critique-try to question the taken for granted)

20 Transformative learning

21 ► ► Critical reflection holds out the promise of emancipatory learning, learning that frees adults from the implicit assumptions constraining thought and action in the everyday world. Through critical reflection, adult learners can act on the forces creating inequality in professional practice and in the world (Imel 1999).

22 Engaging students in significant, possibly transformative, learning ► WHY is this important? ► Success in present academic study and preparation for future learning (in professional practice, civic life, etc) ► Desirable attributes typically highlighted: ► Desirable attributes typically highlighted: adaptability, creativity, communicative competence, problem-solving skills and ability to deal with ill-defined problems, critical thinking skills and dispositions, confidence, leadership skills, resilience, ethical awareness, imagination, community orientation, etc.

23 These attributes are recognised in the literature

24 Supercomplexity? ► ► Barnett’s (2004b, 2005) notion of ‘super-complexity’, is a short-hand for the multi-level challenges students are exposed to in making sense of their experiences. ► ► It is helpful for exploring the meaning of ‘graduateness’. ► ► Barnett suggests that there are in fact two different challenges students need to grapple with, and the two stand in a hierarchical relationship to one another. ► ► 1. The so-called knowledge explosion. What to believe or consider 'true' is constantly being called into question due to these rapid changes in knowledge. Students are told that what they learn today may no longer be considered valid by the time they graduate. This leads to a sense of increased epistemological uncertainty and universities, according to Barnett, have a responsibility to develop in students the capacity to cope with this uncertainty. However, this challenge is made still more complex, indeed super-complex, by yet an additional challenge. ► ► 2. Supercomplexity through increased specialisations. It is one thing to prepare students for the reality that knowledge advances through further scholarship or discoveries within a particular field or discipline; it is quite another to prepare them for the additional challenge of different disciplinary specialisations producing often incompatible frameworks by which to interpret this knowledge.

25 Preparing students for ‘uncertainty’ and ‘supercomplexity’ ► ► Given this ‘super-complexity’, Barnett argues that higher education should see its role principally as cultivating in students “human capacities needed to flourish amid ‘strangeness’” (Barnett, 2005). ► ► Such flourishing he continues can be supported “a pedagogy of human being” (Barnett, 2004). What is important, he contends, is that students are encouraged to not only endure such strangeness but to, in a very real sense, become part of it. “For ultimately”, he suggests, “the only way, amid strangeness, to become fully human, to achieve agency and authenticity, is the capacity to go on producing strangeness by and for oneself“ (Barnett, 2005). ► ► Now what might this intriguing statement mean? ► ► What would it entail if students were to develop the capacity to produce strangeness by and for themselves?

26 Words that come to mind include ► Exploring, inquiring, investigating, reflecting, considering, questioning, … ► But also trying out, experimenting, innovating, challenging, imagining different perspectives… ► And being courageous, moving out of one’s comfort zone, being creative, daring…

27 What are the educational opportunities we provide for? Perspectives on HE ► “Contained within the idea of higher education are the notions of critical dialogue, of self-reflection, of conversations, and of continuing redefinition. They do justice to the idea of higher education ….” (Barnett, 1992).

28 Perspectives on HE cont’d ► “The college should encourage each student to develop the capacity to judge wisely in matters of life and conduct….The goal is …to set them free in the world of ideas and provide a climate in which ethical and moral choices can be thought-fully examined, and convictions formed” (Ernest Boyer, 1987)

29 Perspectives on HE cont’d ► “In order to foster a democracy that genuinely takes thought for the common good, we (in higher education) must produce citizens who have the Socratic capacity to reason about their beliefs” (Martha Nussbaum, 1997)

30 Perspectives on HE cont’d ► (Arendt, 1954). ► The great challenge for education is to offer experiences that help students become prepared “for the task of renewing the common world” (Arendt, 1954).

31 Perspectives on HE cont’d “Higher education institutions bear a profound, moral responsibility to increase the awareness, knowledge, skills and values needed to create a just and sustainable future” (Cortese, A The critical role of higher education in creating a sustainable future. Planning for Higher Education, 31 (3), 15–22). “Higher education institutions bear a profound, moral responsibility to increase the awareness, knowledge, skills and values needed to create a just and sustainable future” (Cortese, A The critical role of higher education in creating a sustainable future. Planning for Higher Education, 31 (3), 15–22).

32 How could this be achieved? Expanding the university classroom through Building community partnerships

33 Engagement in learning

34 How could this be achieved? One possible way ► Community-service learning, and other experiential ways of learning in higher education, that are fully integrated with academic courses, where academic knowledge is applied, but also broadened and challenged, often through interdisciplinary working groups and real life situations, have the potential to engage students in genuine reflective inquiry, about the academic knowledge they study in university courses but also about what this means to them on a more personal level and how they can make a difference to the world. ► Such learning, underpinned by public exchanges (debates, discussions, presentations, etc) where knowledge claims are questioned and defended, and meaningful forms of self, peer, field–based tutor and university-based tutor assessment, can become transformative, leading to a deeper understanding of subject matter and self, an identity grounded in a sense of responsible agency, commitment and authenticity.

35 Service Learning: University–Community Partnerships

36 Such learning, on the part of students, is underpinned by scholarship Scholarship  deep knowledge base  inquiry orientation  critical reflectivity  peer review and going/making public

37 Transformative learning and academic practice “The scholarship of teaching is concerned not so much with doing things better but with doing better things” (Lewis Elton, 2005)

38 Two personal stances on professionalism (Hoyle, 1975): restricted and extended ► ► The so-called ‘restricted’ stance, is characterised by teachers relying principally on experience and intuition, and focusing on daily classroom practicalities. ► ► The so-called ‘extended’ stance, is characterised by teachers valuing the theory underpinning practice, taking a more intellectual and reflective approach and holding a broader vision of education. ► ► An ‘extended’ stance on professional engagement in university teaching is distinguished by three important features: 1) a wider sense of what counts as relevant theory, 2) emphasis on critical reflection and 3) a broader vision of what university education is for.

39 Teachers engaged in critically reflective inquiry might ask questions such as - What are the aims, purposes and goals of my (our) teaching,? - How meaningful are these aims, goals and purposes? - Why did I (we) decide on these aims, goals and purposes? Are they equally relevant for all learners? What might be other possibilities/alternatives? - What do I (we) expect or demand of students in terms of the learning that they need to master? What are the challenges for different students? What are their present ways of knowing and being and what knowing and being do we find desirable? - How do I (we) know that these ways of knowing and being are important? How well do I (we) support students in developing these ways of knowing and being? Who is doing well, who is not doing well? - Why do I (we) believe these ways of knowing and being are important? Are they equally relevant for all learners? Do all learners have an equal chance to develop them? Why do I (we) expect learners to behave in these particular ways? What might be other possibilities/alternatives? - What curricula and pedagogies are needed to support students in their learning and development? - How do I (we) know that these curricula and pedagogies (and specific teaching and assessment strategies) we decided on are good ones? How good am I (are we) at implementing them? - Why did I (we) decide on these curricula and pedagogies? What considerations were driving these decisions? How inclusive are these curricula and pedagogies? Are they appropriate for all students? What might be other possibilities/alternatives ?

40 Relationship to PTAS awards/projects ► ► Websites and the creation of community (English Literature) ► ► PeerWisdom: Evaluating and boosting biology student benefits from the PeerWise online learning tool ► ► Introducing psychology via public engagement ► ► Defining non-technical skills in doctors ► ► Ways of thinking and practising in Chinese and Japanese studies ► ► Improved data collection, analysis and student support in Mathematics ► ► With all of these projects there was a concern with questions such as 1)what are we doing, 2) how are we doing, 3) why are we doing it and can we do better? ► ► There was also a concern not just with learning of content but ‘learning community’, with professional practice, with becoming better learners (not just knowers), with skills that are non-technical requiring actual experience to be developed. ► ► Concepts/theories of ‘supercomplexity and uncertainty’, ‘transformative learning’, ‘pedagogies of being’ and ‘self-authorship’, ‘experiential learning’, etc might help us make explicit the reasons for what we do.

41 Professional engagement in university teaching is underpinned by scholarship Scholarship  deep knowledge base  inquiry orientation  critical reflectivity  peer review and going/making public

42 Going public ► May include sharing results from empirical investigations (at conferences such as this one, through journals or on designated websites). ► However, going public also includes fostering public dialogue and critical reflectivity within our communities about how to make a difference in teaching and learning. ► ► As MacIntyre (1987) once remarked “one can only think for oneself if one does not think by oneself” (p.24). True reflectivity, a core attribute of scholarship, therefore, requires a public sphere where debate against certain standards of justification can take place.

43 Summarising the argument: Scholarship and the potential for transformative learning underpins both students’ learning and academics’ professional engagement in teaching Scholarship -deep knowledge base -inquiry orientation -critical reflectivity -peer review and going/making public Students: develop capabilities to succeed in their present studies and future continuing learning Academics: Professional engagement with teaching/ learning about teaching and developing as teachers

44 Student learning is enriched through inquiry-based learning that, ideally, is situated within the community and involves working across disciplines Engagement Serving the community Discovery Inquiry-based learning Integration Working across different perspectives and disciplines Scholarship

45 Professional engagement with teaching, in an ‘extended’ form, would aim to foster in students significant learning (that is inquiry-based, ideally situated within the community and involves working across disciplines) Engagement Serving the community Discovery Inquiry-based learning Integration Working across different perspectives and disciplines Teaching Professional engagement with teaching Scholarship

46 ► Thank you very much!


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