Recently we have been writing some papers on various aspects of the epistemic fluency as well as preparing for several conferences. The following two papers will be presented at EARLI 2017. The first — “Insights into the dynamics between changes in professional fields and teaching in higher education” — will be presented at the symposium “Researching professional learning in changing epistemic environments” (Organised by Monika Nerland); and the second — “Learning as construction of actionable concepts: A multimodal blending perspective” — will be presented at the SIG 17’s (Methods in learning research) invited symposium “The unit of analysis in learning research: Approaches for imagining a transformative research agenda” (Co-organised by Crina Damsa & team). These presentations, when taken together, should give some insights into how (innovative) professional ideas “travel” from changes in professional cultures (and formal documents) to students’ specific ideas of how they should act in practice. At least, they should give some ideas into how such “journeys” of knowledge could be analysed.
If you are coming to EARLI this year, then we will be delighted to meet you there. If not, we will share our presentations in our slideware here after the conference. For now, if you want to read the extended summaries of these papers, please email us and ask. Below are short abstracts.
In our slideware you can now find a new set of slides entitled “Preparing teachers for knowledgeable action: Epistemic fluency, innovation pedagogy and work-capable graduates”. These slides were used in the seminar-discussion “How do we know it’s because of us? University prepared teachers and our impact on classroom readiness” organised by the Initial Teacher Education and Professional Learning (ITEPL) Research Group @ QUT. It is not a completely new presentation, but it sharper articulates some implications for pre-service teachers’ education and “measurement” of their readiness.
What kinds of epistemic tools do skillful teachers use in their work and what kinds of epistemic games do they play? How could teachers’ preparation for knowledgeable action benefit from engagement of pre-service teachers in professional innovation? What different kinds of professional artifacts-tools produced by future professionals could tell us about their workplace readiness? Could current bureaucratic accreditation infrastructures and regimes (at least partly) be replaced by an open infrastructure for teachers’ (including pre-service teachers) professional innovation and professional knowledge co-creation? If foundational courses in law introduce students to legal thinking, and foundational courses in medicine teach students clinical reasoning, shouldn’t pre-service teachers also be helped to learn their professional ways of knowing?
But as the first thing, teacher education should move beyond (now dominant) evidence culture that sees teaching as a rigorous application of firm, robust and often inflexible externally generated knowledge, to an epistemic culture that sees teaching as a skillful knowledge craft and values professional ways of knowing.
Thomas Carey recently published several valuable posts discussing how to develop innovation capabilities in higher education.
One shared thread that goes through these posts is that higher education needs to engage in innovation in order to figure out how to help students develop capabilities to innovate.
These posts also remind us that ‘innovation’ – at least in its current formulations of ‘innovation capability’ – is not only an epistemic project, but also a powerful socio-political project. Many units that define what constitutes ‘capability to innovate’ do this on the level of visible ‘events’ rather than deeper mechanisms that co-produce those events. This leaves for universities (if not for students) to figure out how those mechanisms actually work and what they need to teach/learn. It’s good to see some initiatives described in the posts above that try to assist with this.
Some ideas that could be help understand the complexity of learning to engage in joint socioscientific knowledge practices, such as innovation, we briefly discussed in Chapter 5: Professional knowledge and knowing in shared epistemic spaces: the person-plus perspective. We argued:
“…learning to (co)create epistemic practice (and culture) is – or at least should be – an integral part of both learning and professional culture. Such learning involves the capacity to master representational devices – linguistic systems, objects, and other cultural systems – and to assemble from them one’s own epistemic environments for joint knowledgeable work.” (p.105)
“Each knowledge domain, including the modern sciences and the professions, is a field of interrelated cognitive, material and social practices, rather than a set of statements, skills, and dispositions. So one’s understanding of, and ability to engage with, those knowledge practices become a core part of the epistemic fluency needed for professional work and innovation. These practices include work in specific epistemic spaces, as well as in shared epistemic spaces created through negotiation, joint work and co-assembling.” (p.120)
This set of slides has been prepared for a workshop “Interdisciplinary methods for researching teaching and learning”. It summarises some ideas about intellectual work across conventional (disciplinary) boundaries in education. A number of them draw on experiences working in the field of the learning sciences and writing the Epistemic fluency book. The main message is the paradoxical tension between what educational research is as practice and how educational research is organised and institutionalised as a formal research field (aka. discipline).
What is the nature of wicked professional problems? What kinds of knowledge and capabilities are entailed in solving them? Some insights are summarised in Peter Goodyear’s recent presentation “Understanding the nature and impact of wicked problems and unpredictable futures on employability” presented at Think Tank Employment vs Employability – What do we owe our graduates in the age of Digital Communications & Liquid Practice?, Charles Sturt University. It draws on Chapter 19 “Teaching and learning for epistemic fluency” from Epistemic fluency book. If you are interested in the practicalities, then you may be interested in reading this chapter. It synthesises and illustrates four kinds of pedagogical approaches that could help prepare students for solving different kinds of complex professional problems. The abstract of the chapter is bellow.
Chapter 19: Teaching and learning for epistemic fluency
In this chapter, we turn towards the practicalities of professional education. We use an examination of four broad approaches to education to assess what each can offer to those professional educators who are looking to teach for epistemic fluency. These educational approaches come from a range of sources – not just from professional education. All these approaches focus on fine-tuning learners’ intelligent sensitivity to the critical features of the external environment. However, each of them aims to help learners make distinct connections between different kinds of knowledge and coordinate distinct ways of knowing and acting within the world. Thus, we argue that each has a part to play in completing the jigsaw of education for epistemic fluency. In shorthand terms, the approaches focus on: a) knowledge integration and cognitive flexibility; b) playing epistemic games; c) designerly work on knowledge building and d) learning to design inquiry.