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.
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
How can epistemic fluency perspectives be enacted in daily learning and teaching work? This presentation overviews the design of a blended course Systems, Change and Learning that fundamentally builds on the ideas of epistemic fluency. The course draws together three modes of human inquiry: systems thinking, design practice and responsive action. Through reflective engagement with ideas from different disciplinary domains and teamwork on practical innovation challenges, students begin to appreciate the need to accommodate diverse perspectives and learn to combine diverse ways of knowing. This is not a “flagship” course – it never received any extra funding or other “external” support – but a course that emerged gradually through our daily work with students. By being “usual” and simultaneously “different” this course has celebrated students’ deep engagement, collaboration and positive feedback. A brief description of our approach is in the presentation and this document. Below is a short summary.
Summary: Learning to lead innovation and change
Capacities to drive collective learning, jointly address complex practical challenges and create innovative solutions are seen as essential for future graduates. How can we prepare students to lead complex collaborative learning, change and innovation projects? How can we help them to develop the knowledge and skills needed for resourceful teamwork with other people who have different areas of expertise, experiences, and interests? Continue reading
Last month we co-organised a symposium on interdisciplinary teaching and learning at The Sciences and Technologies of Learning Research Fest. As some colleagues were asking for access to our slides, we have uploaded them into our “slideware”. There are two presentations:
The first presentation “Teaching people to think and work across disciplinary and professional boundaries” comes from the symposium session (Symposium abstract is below). In our presentation, we provided an overview of the “zoo” of different definitions, taxonomies and classifications of interdisciplinarity and inter-professionalism. Most of these ideas are based on chapters in the Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity. We also introduced some current discussions about the “shapes” of interdisciplinary expertise. Brief explorations of these ideas could be found in the linked pages about T-shaped and E-shaped people.
The second presentation “Learning to work across boundaries – opportunities for research and innovation” was a summary (by Lina) of the symposium – as part of the Research Fest’s closing plenary discussion. It briefly outlines our view of: i) what interdisciplinary skillfulness looks like, and ii) what kinds of educational research could help us to improve interdisciplinary teaching and learning.
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