Category Archives: media

Wicked problems and epistemic fluency

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.

Epistemic fluency in Liberal Arts programs

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Our work on epistemic fluency has been nicely taken up by Thomas Carey in his article “Is the Future of Liberal Arts Programs “K-Shaped”?’ published in Inside Higher ED. The article offers a very interesting rethinking of the learning outcomes traditionally associated with Liberal Arts education and possible new ways for (re)designing Liberal Arts majors. Epistemic fluency is at the core of the offered perspective. Few quotes:

We aren’t planning to encourage all our Humanities majors to take a minor in Economics or Business to bolster their value proposition in the workplace – that would only encourage the impression that expertise in particular workplace domains is the key to graduates’ success. Instead, one of the ways we are tackling this challenge is through exploring epistemic fluency in particular workplace knowledge practices rather than particular professional knowledge domains.

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Just as we need to integrate the development of essential learning outcomes into development of student capabilities in their major disciplines, there has to be a strong intersection of all of the K-elements ‒ discipline depth, essential outcome breadth and documented capability in one or more emerging knowledge practices ‒ in order for the desired epistemic fluency to mature.

Read the full article here

Why more scientists are needed in the public square

This weekend, The Conversation published quite interesting article entitled: “Why more scientists are needed in the public square”. It is written by the University of California’s President Janet Napolitano as a call for “all scientists” to step out from their labs into public arena and convey, in a jargon free language, social importance of their work. The article is squarely located in the US presidential election season, but there are a number of thought-provoking ideas from the epistemic fluency perspective (a brief comment that we posted in the morning is copied below). Overall, this article clearly shows that challenges related to the (lack of) epistemic fluency are both deep and widespread across science, society and politics. Continue reading

A 21st-century higher education: training for jobs of the future

Today’s Conversation published quite interesting article about higher education and skills for 21st-century jobs: A 21st-century higher education: training for jobs of the future, by Belinda Probert and Shirley Alexander

We posted our comment on it. Here is a copy of it

Thank you for this interesting article. I completely agree that the “challenges for tertiary education are significant” in this area, and particularly that “universities will need to give teaching and curriculum design a greater priority.” One of additional key challenges is that current pedagogies for “21st century jobs” often draw on a very limited understanding about knowledge, skills and other capabilities needed for innovation and flexible, skilful, future-oriented knowledge work. Teaching to innovate should be informed by much deeper understanding of how people learn to innovate.
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