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.
This short presentation “Linking Innovation in Teaching and Learning with Educational Research (in Higher Education)” discusses some opportunities and challenges for linking local practical innovations in teaching and learning with scholarly research that aims to produce shareable knowledge. It broadly builds on the work of the Centre for Research on Learning and Innovation.
The presentation includes some general notes about what is considered to be an innovation, in general, and in teaching and learning, in particular, in Australian context. It argues that opportunities for linking practical improvements in university’s teaching and learning with high-quality high-value knowledge-generating educational research are hugely underutilised. Local improvements in teaching and learning, particularly those that involve innovative uses of ICT, could hugely benefit from adopting more explicit knowledge-focused approaches to practical innovation. The presentation points out to two concrete approaches that could help to create this link at a micro (course, program, etc.) and community (organisation) levels, respectively:
- Design-based research and other approaches that aim to produce principled-practical knowledge and
- Innovation bootstrapping approach for creating innovating organisations.
Overall, innovation in teaching and learning in university settings is it self a phenomenon that needs much more deliberative innovation and research.
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).