Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pedagogy of Research

Professor George Walker, talked in Canberra today on "Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate-inspired strategies for program evaluation and improvement: focus on student learning outcomes". Professor Walker got my attention by mentioning the "Pedagogy of Research", as I am looking at applying on-line pedagogy to research supervision. There is also the Carnegie Foundation Professional Graduate Education website.

Professor Walker has co-authored a number of publications on how to reform postgraduate education, including "The Formation of Scholars: Rethinking Doctoral Education for the Twenty-First Century" (with Chris M. Golde, Laura Jones, Andrea Conklin Bueschel, Pat Hutchings. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008).

The "Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate" did not fund the university departments, but instead sponsored essays on the topic in selected fields. This included science teaching and writing. A search for papers found about 300 mentioning "Carnegie Initiative on the Doctorate".

Professor Walker described a process where staff of universities were taken through a process where they were asked to describe the attributes of those how completed a doctoral program in a demonstrable way. I commented to Professor Walker that this sounded remarkably like what teachers do when designing a course and researchers would see this level of detail as not applicable to research supervision. He responded that teaching and research were both having the student learn and universities need to "get over" the distinction between teaching and research staff categories.

Professor Walker emphasized life long learning, as what doctoral students learn in their actual course will be quickly obsolete. He nominated: Scholarly Integration, Intellectual Community, Apprenticeship. This sounds much like the "Community of Interest" discussed by educators. The "Big Bang Theory" TV show, also got a mention as an example of a collaborating group of nerds (the point being that even nerds with poor social skills need colleagues).

Professor Walker argued that staff can learn how to have a robust intellectual community and then pass this on to the students. He described "Pea" and "Snake-pit" exercises. The pea exercise has the participants study a new topic together and be supportive. After the group has learned to be supportive they can then have a snake-pit, where a presentation from on member is subjected to constructive criticism by the others.

Professor Walker will be speaking tomorrow on "Tactics for Research Capacity Building", Friday 27 April 2012 at 10:30am, at the University of Canberra. This will be his last talk in Canberra, before returning to the USA.

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