Herdsa 2011

HERDSA 2011 program: Concurrent sessions

Becoming and being: Triangulated accounts of identity formation upon doctoral completion

Eli Bitzer, Stephanie Vandenbergh

Various authors seem to argue that identity formation has a key role in how students become doctorate (Kamler and Thomson 2006; McAlpine, Jazvac-Martek and Hopwood 2009; Thorne, Smalley and Irving 2009). How doctoral candidates experience and account for identity formation seems to be important in understanding the process of doctoral becoming (Austin 2002; Bieber and Worley 2006; Gluzynski and Peters 2005). Doctoral becoming implies transformation and change, which extends beyond methodological rigour, epistemological understanding and socialisation into a discipline (axiology) – it is also an ontological concern. Apparently, ontological change in general is difficult to measure and has been explored and argued from various angles and perspectives (Barnacle 2005; Heidegger 1972; Thomson 2001). Many of the views observing ontological change are contradictory in nature but, in essence, ontological change points to an explication of becoming and being a researcher (Chi 1992; Vosniadou, Vamvakoussi and Skopeliti 2008). In the context of doctoral education students or candidates study to become doctors, researchers and scientists. This becoming and being imply processes of conceptual and other forms of change. Processes of creativity (Frick 2010), transformational learning (Mezirow 2000) and self efficacy (Bandura 1986, 1995) are reported to be involved and observed in ontological and identity change (Kerns, Gardner and Marshall 2008; Lin and Cranton 2005; McAlpine and Amundsen 2007; McAlpine and Norton 2006).

Closing the loop: Embedding voluntary peer review of teaching in communities of practice

Susan Bolt, Brian Perrin, Stacey Porter

In this case, the authors describe the growth and transformation of a systematic peer review of teaching program in an Australian university business school. Unlike the mandatory peer review of teaching in the United Kingdom, in this case it was voluntary. Program participants included academic and sessional staff with varied levels of teaching experiences and diverse roles. Although participants were pleased with the feedback they received about their teaching (Atkinson & Bolt, 2010), the authors were aware of issues related to follow up and wanted to close the feedback loop. In 2010, change of personnel and the commencement of an associated Quality Teaching Practices Pilot Study impacted on the peer review of teaching program. As a result the method of providing feedback to participants underwent significant transformation, collaborative partnerships were strengthened and a formal program evaluation process was implemented. The evaluation yielded qualitative and quantitative data which was reported statistically and thematically. In this paper, the authors use the evaluation data and teaching observation reports to describe program changes and their outcomes. The authors found that changes to the reporting process resulted in more rigorous feedback and promoted follow-up. Even so, this alone was insufficient to close the loop; the authors emphasise the significance of establishing enabling structures, collaborative partnerships and embedding the peer review of teaching within communities of practice. 

Pleasure, pride, compliance, resentment, shame, anger: Women academics respond to research audit

Barbara Grant, Vivienne Elizabeth

In Aotearoa/New Zealand, as in other countries, academic identities are being reshaped as higher education changes (Clegg, 2008; Davies & Petersen, 2005; Harley, 2002; Harris, 2005). In recent decades, academics have become subject to regular assessment as individual researchers (Ashcroft, 2005; Curtis & Matthewman, 2005; Middleton, 2005). The national Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF), an audit technology introduced in 2003, requires individuals to submit an Evidence Portfolio that displays research outputs, contributions to the research environment and peer esteem. The Portfolio judgment leads to the award of an A, B, C or R (R = research inactive) grade and the transfer of a corresponding level of much-needed government funding to higher education institutions.  In the PBRF process, academics find themselves subject to the very disciplinary mechanism they impose on their students. Indeed, for Foucault, the examination (for the PBRF Portfolio judgment is an examination) is the small penal mechanism that brings power and knowledge together in a particularly potent way: “it is a normalizing gaze, a surveillance that makes it possible to qualify, to classify and to punish. It establishes over individuals a visibility through which one differentiates and judges them” (Foucault, 1991, p.184). Although the grade is supposed to be private and not used in processes such as continuation or promotion, it leaks out via myriad breaches: academics-as-researchers are always/already exposed. The PBRF and its kindred others (RAE in the UK, ERA in Australia) have been widely criticised (see for example Shore 2008), as has the lack of political resistance to them on the part of academics (see for example Davies & Petersen, 2005).

Changing conditions, changing practices: An explorative study of continuing professional learning in a faculty-based community of practice

Wendy Green, Ray Hibbins, Luke Houghton, Aaron Ruutz

The changing context of tertiary teaching is affecting all aspects of academic work. Mindful that formal programs, designed to address the need for continuing professional development in this context can yield disappointing results, some scholars are exploring the potential of communities of practice (CoPs) (Lave & Wenger, 1991) to develop more effective approaches to professional development in faculties. This presentation aims to explore how members of a teaching community of practice (T-CoP) in a large, multi-disciplinary, multi-campus business faculty make sense of themselves as life-long professional learners after critically reflecting on their experiences in their CoP.

Analysis of in-depth, semi-structured interviews conducted with 16 members, broadly representative of the T-CoP’s membership revealed that all16 interviewees had made changes to their teaching practice since joining the T-CoP. Long-term, active members reported the most significant changes, seeing their involvement as transformative. Newer/ peripheral members had a more pragmatic approach, electing to attend particular meetings in order to address a specific need. All interviewees stressed the value of the trusting relationships they developed. They believed the T-CoP has been effective because it is interactive, self-driven, ongoing, reflective, collaborative and embedded in practice.  Interestingly, more active members also stressed its potential to increase the collective agency of its membership within the faculty and university; i.e., the T-CoP was seen as a space for critical reflection on workplace conditions as well as a vehicle for responding creatively to them.

A focus on non-technical competencies in preparation of veterinary science student immersion in professional practice

Gary Hamlin, Blaise Webster, Lee Fitzpatrick, Darryl Krook

Animal and human health care professionals increasingly require high levels of proficiency in non-technical competencies such as communication, teamwork, conflict resolution and professionalism.  In 2006 James Cook University established a five year integrated undergraduate Veterinary Science degree structured around five themes. One of the themes, the Professional Life theme, focuses on the development of non-technical competencies. This showcase presentation will describe the key learning activities within the theme that contribute to student confidence in their development non-technical competencies in preparation for their immersion in professional practice.

Student support in action: Improving the university student experience

Daniella Hickling, Marlene Saunders-Sobers

The smooth or unstable transition from secondary to the tertiary level education, and from one year or level to another at the University of the West Indies, contributes greatly to the successes and/or failures of students. The paper will present strategies to bridge the academic, institutional, social and personal gaps for individuals considering entry at the UWI, whether in online/distance or face-to-face.  It will discuss pipelining education; the transition from secondary to tertiary level education for applicants, and from one year/level to another for enrolled students through to graduation.  It will highlight the skills necessary for these individuals to make informed decisions to facilitate their academic successes.  It will also demonstrate the role and responsibility that tertiary level institutions have to ensure students receive the guidance and advising required to facilitate student success.  It will demonstrate a transformative holistic student-centred approach to reinforce academic foundations, encourage academic values - through the processes of recruitment, enrollment, registration through graduation – to enhance the retention and graduation rates of students, and the transitioning into professional careers, postgraduate study and research. The paper will highlight the approach to develop a more competitive and competent student through intrusive academic advising, improved throughput and completion rates through development of benchmarked year-to year programming, to promote higher levels of student satisfaction with the education experience at the UWI.

Quality engagement: Is online activity associated with final marks?

John Milne, Lynn Jeffrey, Andrew Higgins, Keith Comer, Gordon Suddaby

Learning management systems (LMS) collect a lot of information about what the learner does within the system (Koch, Andrew, Salamonson, Everett, & Davidson, 2010; Lee, Chen, Chrysostomou, & Liu, 2009; Beer, Clark, & Jones, 2010). For instance the LMS Moodle keeps a log of each screen that the students visit and makes reports available that the lecturer can filter by student name, date, activity and action. Cocea and Weibelzahl (2009) used data mining techniques to examine student behaviour that predicted disengagement. They found that student behaviour of reading pages and taking tests were associated with student engagement. Knight (2010) classifies three types of learners based on their usage profiles. 1) Students who grab and go.  They have early use of the LMS and do not return. Knight describes these students as surface or strategic learners.  2) Students who use the LMS at the end of the course (surface learners). 3) Students who consistently use the LMS and Knight describe these as deep learners. This work is part of a national Ako Aotearoa project that aims to develop a toolbox of learning engagement strategies that will support teachers in the development of effective blended learning environments. This presentation reports on a pilot study that tested engagement tools. It compares learners’ online usage with final marks to identify if the online data could identify activities that are purposeful and are associated with the final marks for a business course.

'Just in time-just for me' narrative support for learning leaders in higher education

Susan Roberts, Coral Pepper

The ALTC has funded a project that involved the development of a dedicated website for Unit Coordinators.  The web site contains a range of narratives derived from the experiences of ‘fellow travellers’ from around Australia (Scott, 2008) and relevant, helpful resources.  This initiative was in response to a finding by Scott et al (2008) that academics wanted access to ‘just-in-time; just-for-me’ developmental support during ‘challenging’ times.  Interviews were conducted with Unit Coordinators from universities in three States to explore the challenges they encounter and how they have resolved them.  Their transcripts were then crafted into narrative accounts.  The narrative account was the selected approach because, as a qualitative tool, it focuses on ‘the lived experience’ and enables a participant’s story and experiences to be honoured and given status (Conle, 2003: Pepper and Wildy, 2009).   Using reflective praxis, narratives also have the potential to contribute to peoples’ well being (Hostetler, 2005), which was a primary project objective. Ten dominant themes (challenges) emerged from the narratives, upon which the website was organised.   The narratives selected for the site illustrate that any Unit Coordinator may encounter such issues, and that most can be resolved, either singly in the quiet of one’s office, or in a facilitated group setting.   Stories outlining how issues were resolved were viewed as a source of comfort and hope to the discouraged.  The website is still under review and will be evaluated for the extent to which it impacts on academic practice, work and identities before it goes live.   

Reconceptualising science: The good, the bad and the ugly

Pauline Ross, Betty Gill

Nobel laureates have recently cautioned us about the resilience of the unchanged narrative in tertiary science learning (Weiman 2007, Weiman et al., 2010) and the need for a reconceptualised undergraduate tertiary science curriculum; one reflective of “doing” and “discovery” to create scientific literate citizens living in a supercomplex world (Barnett, 2000; Bybee, 2003; National Research Council, America’s Lab Report, 2006; Ross and Tronson, 2007; Weiman, 2007; 2010;  Rice et al., 2009). We describe a pathway of reconceptualising the science curriculum in a large metropolitan tertiary institution where science and mathematics is split across four schools spread over five geographically separated campuses. 

Although the deficit view of the student can take some prominence in the sciences for the lack of curriculum change (Haggis, 2006 p. 522; Wingate, 2007) it is moreover the academics themselves who resist creating new curricula structures (Sewell 1992; Ross and Gill, 2010).  This is less because of a lack of will, job insecurity,  ownership or the contesting of disciplinary processes (Haggis 2006) and more about the difficulty in making the tacit explicit (Ross and Gill, 2010) and using a whole-of-program approach in a tertiary science world full of distinct disciplinary and unit silos.  Ultimately change will only occur through academics who are best positioned epistemologically to provide the momentum needed to move the unchanged curriculum and create a systemic understanding of what is important and how to translate this into practise.

Parental Leave in Australian Universities: Comparisons and Recommendations

Emma Ruckley, Glenda Strachan

Universities have been a leader in offering paid parental leave (PPL) both in terms of the length of leave and its spread across the entire industry sector. The provision of partner and adoption leave, for example, identifies universities as having progressive clauses (using Baird, Frino and Williamson [2009] typology). Nevertheless, there are differences. This paper provides the first comparative analysis of the specific terms and conditions of PPL in universities.  The parental leave provisions in the enterprise agreements of 29 Australian universities concluded in 2010 and January 2011 have been analysed and compared. Specific criteria such as length of leave, access to leave and eligibility were selected and details were entered into an Access database. The data was then compared across each criterion. Findings include that while all universities provide 26 weeks paid leave, there is considerable variation in how these weeks are delivered. In some universities gender stereotypes about care giving have been challenged through the provision of paid Primary Caregiver Leave which is intentionally gender neutral. While the sector as a whole is progressive, there are isolated examples of less generous provisions.  It is hoped that by highlighting differences as well as the innovative provisions universities can enhance parental leave entitlements and maintain their reputation as leaders in the area of employment equity. This research was supported under Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects funding scheme (project LP0991191).

Success in academia: Findings from an international research project with early career academics

Kathryn Sutherland

To be considered successful, early career academics (ECAs) need to be good “academic citizens” (Macfarlane, 2007) and productive researchers, with well-established research networks, a growing reputation or profile in their discipline or community, and a solid record of winning competitive research grants. But, academic success is about more than meeting externally imposed standards in research output, reputation and profile, or about generating satisfactory student ratings in teaching. It is also about self-fulfilment, enjoyment, autonomy and security. ECAs are pulled in many directions by the performative demands of promotion and tenure processes, the realities of competitive funding, and their own personal career and life aspirations.  Where might restricted external constructions of success leave the ECAs who wish to identify as more or other than researchers? And how can ECAs balance their own aspirations and personal constructions of success with the demands of their institutions, disciplines, and students? This session presents the findings of a research project on ECA experiences, conducted with nearly 70 ECAs internationally, and argues for a need to allow space for multiple constructions of “success” in academia.


*Please note that this program is indicative only and subject to change. Pre-conference workshops incur additional fees and require registration. If you have already registered to attend the conference and would now like to register to attend pre-conference workshops please download and complete the pre-conference workshop registration form.

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