Our paper “Preparing students for the workplace through designing productive assessment tasks: An actionable knowledge perspective” presented at HERDSA 2017 has been now published. Free download is here.
Full reference: Markauskaite, L. & Goodyear, P. (2017). Preparing students for the workplace through designing productive assessment tasks: An actionable knowledge perspective. In R.G. Walker & S.B. Bedford (Eds.), Research and Development in Higher Education: Curriculum Transformation, 40 (pp. 198–208). Sydney, Australia, 27–30 June 2017.
In this podcast “Teaching as design”, Mollie Dollinger and Jason Lodge speak with Peter about design for learning. But in the last 11 minutes of the podcast Peter describes what epistemic fluency is, its origins, and our work expanding this notion. Peter also talks about how epistemic fluency is connected to design. If you are interested just in epistemic fluency, start listening the podcast from the 31st minute.
Chapter 2 includes a brief overview of the main educational approaches that are used to help students make connections between academic study and workplace performance: simulations, role plays, case-based learning, problem-based learning, inquiry-based learning, internships, reflective practice, communities of practice, etc. Our colleague George Hatsidimitris created a nice re-interpretation of the schema of these approaches also insightfully extended it with one element “communication technologies”. Indeed, communication technologies could help create a hybrid space for linking the lecture hall and workplace. Thank you George.
Schema of approaches to professional formation. Image by George Hatsidimitris (July 2017)
We will be presenting our paper that discusses various designs of tasks for assessing “workplace readiness” on the 27th of June, at the HERDSA 2017 Conference. If you will be attending the conference and interested, check the program and come to the session. The abstract is below. We will post our slides and link to the full paper after the conference.
Preparing students for the workplace through designing productive assessment tasks: An actionable knowledge perspective
Lina Markauskaite and Peter Goodyear
Preparing students for the workplace and assessing their readiness are often major challenges for university teachers. What kinds of concrete tasks help students develop professional capacities needed for situated knowledgeable action in a broad range of possible future workplace settings?
Our research examined assessment tasks that university teachers set for students in courses that were preparing them for work placements in five professions: nursing, pharmacy, teaching, social work, and school counselling. We combined ‘actionable knowledge’ and ‘objectual practice’ perspectives and investigated what students were asked to do, what they were expected to learn and how. Specifically, we analysed the nature of the objects that teachers selected for assessment tasks and the nature of the concrete artefacts that students were asked to produce.
Our results show some fundamental differences in teachers’ choices of objects. They ranged from basic and very specific aspects of professional work to some of the hardest and most broad-ranging challenges in the profession. The tasks also required students to engage in the production of a wide range of artefacts. We classified these as ‘cultural artefacts’, ‘conceptual artefacts’ and ‘epistemic artefacts’.
Our discussion draws parallels between these three kinds of artefacts and the notions of ‘work ready’, ‘work knowledgeable’ and ‘work-capable’ graduates, respectively. We argue that teachers, through task designs, shape ways in which students learn to link action (skill) with meaning (knowledge). Our findings raise some important questions about the kinds of authentic tasks that help prepare work-capable graduates for future learning.
Eight years ago, when Peter and I started this project, public interest in ‘epistemic X’ was steadily going up. Knowing, that the interest in ‘wisdom’ was falling, it made sense for us to invest some our intellectual energy into understanding ‘epistemic fluency’. At least, there was an implicit hope that this may compensate for the ‘fall’ in ‘wisdom’.
Has the situation changed after 8 years? It is hard to get ‘hard’ evidence, but from looking at Twitter’s feeds, I think it is safe to say that public interest in ‘epistemic X’ was as ever on peak. But ‘X’, to my dismay, wasn’t ‘fluency’.
‘Epistemic closure’ was certainly on the top of the list (particularly around the US election time), followed by ‘epistemic nihilism’, ‘epistemic injustice’, ‘epistemic uncertainty’, ‘epistemic violence’, even ‘epistemic sexism’. (I am less sure about ‘wisdom’, but its antonym ‘stupidity’ certainly was on peak too, in 2016.)
What does it mean for education? On the one hand, we may simply ignore this: word ‘epistemic’ equally happily floats above everything that we hate or value. On the other hand, we should admit that our educational systems have not yet succeeded rising up an epistemically wise and respectful population.
It is likely that 2017 will be even more epistemically challenging. We haven’t yet learnt to participate in democracies that we created, and now we need to debate democracies in which we find ourselves. This is why we need epistemic fluency.