Conducting Exams outside Campus during the Pandemic: Reflections on current practice and lessons for the future
Asad Ghalib Liverpool Hope University.
This paper reflects on the practices adopted by various higher education institutions across the world while administering examinations remotely and away from campuses. It places particular emphasis on validity as the most important quality of an assessment. It argues that, in practice, it has often received less attention than reliability or generalizability. It occupies a special place as it concerns the appropriateness and meaningfulness of an examination. This paper identifies major threats to an assessment’s validity found in the literature and relates these to end-of-year exams conducted during the pandemic.
The three major threats are: limitations of the exam to represent the entire curriculum, narrowing down the topics for revision, and cheating. Possible solutions are offered and could lead to forming policy for exam developers in order to mitigate the threats to validity. The prominent ones include using imagined case studies that are authored deliberately to test all required concepts. Construct-irrelevant variance could be mitigated by the use of short-answer questions. Such questions could assist in covering wider content, provided they do not necessitate rote-learning but actually assess conceptual understanding and application.
Downing, S. M. & Haladyna, T. M. (2004) Validity Threats: Overcoming interference with proposed interpretations of assessment data. Medical Education, 38(3), pp.327-333.
Messick S. (1989a) Validity. In Linn R.L. (Ed.) Educational Measurement. 3rd edition. New York: American Council on Education, Macmillan 1989, pp. 13–104.
Messick, S. (1989b) Meaning and Values in Test Validation: The Science and Ethics of Assessment. Educational Researcher, 18(2), 5-11.
Sullivan G. M. (2011) A Primer on the Validity of Assessment Instruments. Journal of Graduate Medical Education, 3(2), pp. 119–120.
Waugh, K.C. & Gronlund, N.E. (2013) Assessment of Student Achievement. (10th ed.) (Chapter 4). London: Pearson.
Impact of COVID on the Challenges Associated with Ethnographic Data Collection: Reflections on experience as a new researcher
Thomas Morris Cardiff Metropolitan University.
This paper explores the challenges exacerbated by COVID experienced within an ethnography of alternative education. Although it is important to highlight that challenges were experienced pre-COVID, this paper will focus on the challenges related to ethnographic data collection influenced by COVID. The paper aims to highlight the challenges I have experienced. It is hoped that other researchers, particularly new researchers, can utilise these reflections as a source of information. Additionally, this aligns well with the call for more researchers to outline their experiences of overcoming challenges within ethnography (Matthiesen, 2000). The suggestion made by Mills and Morton (2016) that there are as many ways of doing ethnography as there are ethnographers is of particular relevance to the current project. I consulted previous literature for many of the commonly experienced challenges of ethnography from the early stages of the project. However, as a government-initiated lockdown became imminent in Wales, there were a number of challenges being presented that have not been documented within the previous literature. As such, for many of these challenges I was unable to find any of the ‘answers’ I was looking for. Due to this, the use of reflections became of paramount importance.
A reflective diary was kept from the early stages of the current project to document reflections made while attending the research setting. However, as the first lockdown approached, I developed a separate reflective diary. This second diary was used to document the reflections made that were not directly related to the research setting itself but of the overall research process. In essence, these reflective diaries became two separate accounts of my research journey where my original reflective diary may be considered as what Schön (2016) refers to as ‘reflecting-in-action’, and the second reflective diary may be considered as ‘reflecting-on-action’. The paper will utilise reflections made both in-action and on-action to consider the challenges experienced throughout the ever-changing nature of COVID. Some of the challenges to be discussed include; a loss of access to participants, limited opportunities to build/maintain rapport, issues obtaining informed consent (particularly from the parents of students), as well as a range of others.
Matthiesen, N. (2020) A Question of Access: Metaphors of the field. Ethnography and Education, 15(1), pp. 1-16.
Mills, D. and Morton, M. (2013) Ethnography in Education. London: Sage.
Schön, D.A. (2016) The Reflective Practitioner: How professionals think in action. Oxon: Routledge.
Exploring the Factors of Time and Space for Undergraduate Students Studying and Writing in COVID Times
Verity Aiken Nottingham Trent University
The fallout from COVID related restrictions continues to frame the way students experience and manage studying and writing for assessment. Closing down the physical infrastructure means limiting the benefits of being on campus including how students use time on campus to engage in self-study (see Burke et al., 2017). Without being able to provide students with places to retreat to (Mehta and Cox 2019), those who need access to campus space and its resources will be especially hard hit. This paper reports on a small-scale piece of research with the remit to capture these types of students’ experiences involving studying and writing remotely as a result of the pandemic. Guiding the research are the objectives of: (1) To examine the effects of limited access to campus in terms of student study and writing experiences during COVID; (2) To analyse how space contributes to effective studying and writing from the student point of view; and (3) To reveal possible pressures impacting upon writing and study time that have arisen for students studying and writing in more remote ways. The research uses semi-structured online interviews alongside photo elicitation techniques and a thematic data analysis approach. The data is discussed using Bakhtin’s (1981) notion of chronotope to foreground time and space in relation to how undergraduate students account for their studying and writing for assessment experiences during COVID conditions. In doing so, the research places a spotlight on issues to do with digital poverty that have become much more topical in the latest lockdown, but often to the reserve of the difficulties faced by schoolchildren. More specifically, the research contributes to student equity research by shedding light on the precariousness of student study conditions and the amplification of time and space factors during the pandemic.
Ecological Education: A Response to the Anthropocene
Sandra Abegglen Solent University
David Blundell London Metropolitan University
Jessie A Bustillos Morales London Metropolitan University.
‘And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work ‘em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch! said they, the bird to slay,
That made the breeze to blow!’
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
This paper is prompted by a call for education to take up the challenge of the Anthropocene. It does so at a time when there are immediate questions surrounding how educational institutions should respond to the multilateral disruptions associated with the global coronavirus pandemic. The identification of The Anthropocene as a new geological epoch marks the dominance of human agency in shaping and reshaping geosystems in ways that are understood to be irreversible and have profound implications for the continued operation of our ecosystems.
The paper proposes that responses to the emergence of this (new) planetary reality depend fundamentally on an understanding of the origins and meaning of the Anthropocene, and especially how it conceives the relationship between humans and the rest of life on the planet. It goes on to argue that familiar concepts of the human, of Nature, and relations between them rooted in Enlightenment modernity hinder attempts to navigate the challenges ahead.
As educators we therefore advocate a shift towards ecological education that surpasses a curricular topic but which offers a root, branch, and systemic way of seeing curriculum, pedagogy, and institutions that not only acknowledges the agency of learners, but also relations between human and the more-than-human communities we all inhabit.
We believe that the COVID and ecological crises exhibit significant intersections and that in these unprecedented times ecological education offers a practical and philosophically flexible response to the multiple challenges facing the planet. What is proposed recognises the value of accumulated knowledge and understanding in education as an intellectual memory bank and eschews the fetish of technological or systemic innovation for its own sake.
Education has the capacity to actively shape what we think about and how we approach our environment, bodies and social relations. The question must be asked: How do we include the environment and sustainable development in our education system to create a sustainable future that instils hope in the younger generation?
Decolonising the Curriculum: Investigating the Challenges and Possibilities at an English Business School
Asad Ghalib Liverpool Hope University
Our Business School, in Northwest England, is responding to the challenge of ‘decolonising the curriculum’. We consider there are four key aspects of this response, which connect to the Integral GENE/ Four Worlds system theory model which we teach. This schema, itself, originates out of work that has been conducted within a decolonising context, mainly in Africa (see Lessem & Schieffer (2010), Lessem & Bradley (2019), Lessem et al., (2020), Bradley et al., (2020)). The four aspects that form the centrepiece of the model are explained below:
- Content (grounding) of the curriculum e.g. teaching the Triangular Slave Trade as part of the political economy of Liverpool as a critique of neoliberalism. This includes some major points through which aspects of decolonisation are taught. Dominant economic, social, political, historical, cultural and ethical modes and norms are critiqued.
- Process (emergence) of curriculum e.g. where the BLM, Empire, post-Empire, British hegemony and political economy is marbled through the Business School’s curriculum, e.g. related to economics, globalisation, social economy, strategic management, finance. Responses will be sought to questions of how the decolonising process enables students, staff and learners to identify the connections, between subject areas, topics and across levels. We will also investigate which pedagogic, educational and learning strategies are used to engage teachers and learners in decolonising pedagogies.
- Meaning (navigation) (semiotics) of the curriculum e.g. alternative understandings of economics (to neoliberalism/classical and neoclassicism), so that 'semiotic economics' (cf Bradley, 2020) is part of the curriculum. We address 'Southern Epistemologies' by seeking answers to key questions such as an exploration of the research epistemologies and methodologies, which challenge the dominant ‘Western’ models of positivist-rationalism (‘scientism’) and marginalist-utilitarianism (neoliberalism). Equally, we will investigate how the lived experiences of staff and students from our diverse cultures are incorporated into research, consultancy and learning strategies for working with business enterprises.
- Messaging (effecting) - how do we communicate decolonisation? e.g. through the informal curriculum and the internationalism of our staff and student recruitment, as well as our openness to alternative perspectives. The key questions are: how are ‘alternative’ approaches seen as appropriate perspectives for staff and students to use, when communicating about business, enterprise, finance and the economy. The findings of this study will lead to measures being taken that will assist in forming policy for further developing our decolonising policy and practices.
Bradley, T (2020) Semiotic Economics: The fourth way beyond neoliberalism, Chapter 7, in Bradley, T et al. (Eds.) Integral to Islamic Finance: A semiotic approach. Manchester: Beacon Academic.
Bradley, T., Lessem, R., Malik, A. and Oshodi, B. (2020) (Eds.) Integral to Islamic Finance: A semiotic approach. Manchester: Beacon Academic.
Lessem, R., Adodo, A. and Bradley, T. (2019) The Idea of the Communiversity: Releasing the natural, cultural, technological and economic GENE-ius of societies. Manchester: beacon Academic.
Lessem, R. and Bradley, T. (2019) Evolving Work; Employing self and community. Abingdon: Routledge.
Lessem, R. and Schieffer, A. (2010) Integral Economics: Releasing the economic genius of your society. Farnham: Gower Publishing.
Private Tuition as an Educational Alternative: Challenges and possibilities
Maureen Smith Newman University
Private tuition provides possibilities for improvement in the academic attainment of those students who participate. Representatives of private tuition can be found entrenched within search engines such as ‘Internet Explorer’ and ‘Google’, yet inputs from private tuition can prompt questions over school education systems to achieve goals in the academic attainment of their students independently. Existing attainment gaps between pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds when compare to their peers is set to significantly increase while schools have been closed to most students due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, contemporary approaches are evolving. One of these contexts is set within a ‘National Tutoring Programme’, the government funded initiative to support schools to provide additional support to students following the Covid-19 school closures.
As an educational alternative, private tuition takes differentforms, including one-to-one tuition, small group sessions or larger online classes. It is a consequence of which its scale, which varies widely, includes contributory factors such as culture. the nature of mainstream educational systems, and the economy. Within this lens, private tuition is described as a type of ‘shadow education’ and it faces the challenge of cost to some of the parents of participating students. Access to private tuition is often limited to the schools and parents that can most afford it. So, when considering disadvantaged students, estimates are around 80% of those whose families cannot afford or do not have access to it. Yet private tuition has a reputation for its association with improved examination performance, academic attainment and improved access to tertiary education. There is extensive evidence to suggest the positive impacts of private tutoring to support pupils in these situations. Therefore, private tuition has become a noticeable feature in many countries, including those within the United Kingdom and can be applied within a framework of core disciplines such as mathematics, English and science.
Science as a core subject is often dominated by those students with a tendency toward careers in medicine. This article uses the lens of functionalism as it sets out to theoretically explore possibilities and challenges for private tuition in secondary science education in England. Within this exploration are its positioning within society and its contribution to the economy.
Teachers’ Perception about Mental Health Problems as a Hidden Crisis among School Students and role of School-Based Mental Health Facilities: An exploratory research study
Saba Khurshid Liverpool Hope University
Schools are now facing unprecedented challenges due to the increased rate of mental health problems across the world. In a recent era, educational alternatives programmes are emphasizing the relationship between students and teachers to form motivation and support system. On the other hand, teachers and policy makers are facing many issues while dealing with students. These mental health related issues such as depression, stress, anxiety and disruptive behaviour are closely associated with poor academic performance, absenteeism from school and behaviour disturbance (Sutherland, 2018). To build a sense of community and to foster healthy relationship between students and teachers, educational alternative programs prefer smaller class size. Schools are considered an ideal place to provide students with mental health services because students spend at least 7-8 hours a day in schools. The main concern is whether the teachers are fully prepared and have sufficient understanding to manage these mental health issues in students. As is evident in the extant literature, teachers are also responsible for dealing with students’ mental health. Unfortunately, teachers’ training programmes are not fully facilitating them to handle these crises (Andrews et al., 2014). Ignorance of teachers’ perception about students’ mental health issues is posing a constant threat and becoming a challenge to educational alternative programmes to achieve its selected goals. Therefore, the present study aimed to explore teachers’ perceptions about student’s mental health problems such as depression, stress, disruptive behaviour, anxiety, lack of motivation, and also to discover importance of school-based mental health facilities. So for this purpose, an exploratory study was conducted with three independent focus groups of secondary school teachers located in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Researchers carried out thematic analysis to derive the themes for the discussion. Five major themes were identified:
(1) Mental health problems are not only disturbing the psychological well-being of students but also affecting their academic performance badly.
(2) Teachers share a very strong bond with students, and learners also like to rely on their teachers for their support.
(3) Keeping student–teacher interaction in view, teachers can support or improve students’ mental health problems through counselling if they are properly trained.
(4) School psychologists or counsellors need to be hired in school setting to work with students who are undergoing psychological issues.
(5) Parents’ involvement is directly related to students’ wellbeing.
It is endorsed by the findings of the current study that school administrations need to organize training programmes for teachers in which they can be trained properly to tackle students’ mental health problems. School authorities and education departments need to hire psychologists and initiate different programmes on well-being as a part of educational alternatives. Psychologists and counsellors can organize seminars to create awareness among teachers and parents about ways to improve their communication and relationship with their children.
Crossing the Bridge to FE: Experiences of transition
Amanda Thomas University of South Wales
Rhiannon Packer Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Transition is a complex process and the process of transition to any educational setting involves a number of stakeholders. This research specifically aimed to hear the voices of those stakeholders involved in the transition into further education (FE). In entering FE the impact of transition in the move from formal schooling to post-compulsory education is no less daunting. Emerging independence and exploration of self-identity are fundamental in adulthood; however, individuals often need guidance and support during this process.
The context for the study is South Wales, where FE colleges deliver vocational education and training, both full-time and part-time, in addition to delivering general education for the local area’s sixth form cohort. Traditionally transition was seen as a one-off event; however, the ramifications of the process are more than this. Galton and McLellan (2018) perceived transition metaphorically as a bridge, aiding the movement of a learner from A to B. However, a bridge can also go from B to A, so while a transition can initially seem successful, for some this bridge can appear as a ditch.
Using an interpretive methodology, the voices of key stakeholders in the transition to FE were sought and recorded to explore and inform good practice. Data were collected using online and paper questionnaires, interviews and focus groups. Drawing upon Ranson’s (2000) ‘pedagogy of voice’, which requires active listening and learning from the opinions and feelings of others, enabled an understanding of transition experiences from a variety of perspectives (Wertsch, 1991).
The following themes emerged from the findings:
• Preparation- managing expectations;
• Induction- first impressions;
• Establishing social circles;
• Transition outcome - time to reflect;
• Opportunities for feedback;
• Suggestions for improvement.
The research has identified the value of listening to all stakeholder voices in offering informed dialogue about what enables, supports and facilitates a successful transition process into post-16 settings. Nurturing effective practitioner-learner relationships, with opportunities to visit the setting promoted increased engagement by learners, and facilitated learner identification with the learning environment, thus ensuring smooth transition. Employing an interpretive methodology to collect and share stakeholders’ lived experiences of transition has been a valuable opportunity for practitioners and learners alike to reflect upon the process and how they have been affected by it, allowing for change to be made where appropriate.
Toilet Rolls and Chromebooks: School leadership and management of education technology in the four nations of the United Kingdom during the early months of COVID
Andrew Joyce-Gibbons Bath Spa University
Gary Beauchamp Cardiff Metropolitan University
Linda Clarke Ulster University
Moira Hulme Manchester Metropolitan University
Lorna Hamilton Edinburgh University.
The COVID19 pandemic has brought seismic changes to schooling which few could have anticipated. Across the four countries of the UK, in a matter of weeks, changes to the locus and focus of education were mandated across the UK. Amongst the many challenges for those managing and leading schools in these extraordinary circumstances, head teachers (Beauchamp, et al., 2020) faced step changes in the use of education technology which offered them both quick fixes for pressing problems and convoluted complexities for implementation on the ground.
This paper is focused on the use of the education technologies deployed by schools as they adjusted to teaching and learning in lockdown. The study draws upon 12 extensive interviews with school leaderships across all phases of learning in all four countries in the UK. It addresses the question: What are the lessons that can be learned about school management and leadership for and with education technology in the early stages of a pandemic?
Leadership emerges as a proactive, disruptive disposition to permanently improve the functions of the school through change precipitated by the COVID crisis. Management focuses on reactive, conservative use of resources to replicate and preserve pre-lockdown functions with a view to resuming normal services and methods of delivery once the situation stabilised. The deployment of technology both to serve or to drive these competing impulses is explored in relation to the perception of the possibilities afforded by the technologies to school leaders and their staff.
Most, if not all, technologies mentioned were available to schools before the pandemic. However, the change in the physical location for learning changed the perceived utility based on perceived affordance. For some, the affordance was to replicate an existing practice, for others it was to develop a new practice which could carry on once lockdown was over. As such the affordance-in-action closely aligns with the phenomenological view of affordance put forward by Merleau-Ponty (Bonderup Dohn, 2009) rather than idea of the intentional, design-based affordance of Norman (1988) or the evolutionary ecological affordances of Gibson (1979).
Beauchamp, G., Hulme, M., Clarke, L., Hamilton, L., & Harvey, J. A. (2021) ‘People miss people’: A study of school leadership and management in the four nations of the United Kingdom in the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 49(3), pp. 375–392.
Bonderup Dohn, N. (2009) Affordances Revisited: Articulating a Merleau-Pontian view. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4(2), pp. 151–170.
Gibson, J.J. (1979) The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Norman, D. (1988) The Psychology of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books.
Using a Targeted Programme to Support Quiet Shy and Anxious Learners in the Early Years Classroom
Rhiannon Packer and Susan Davis Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Quiet, shy and/or anxious children are found in every classroom, in every school and, by their nature, tend to go ‘under the radar’ (Coplan et al., 2011; Crozier, 2014). For some children, their shyness can be severe and may affect their access to learning such that further understanding and support are needed. This study employed a targeted six-week intervention programme entitled ‘Special Me Time’ (SMT) (Davis, 2012) which supported the children in relation to: vocalising their feelings, accessing classroom opportunities, communication, and developing friendships. The premise of the approach is that children are withdrawn from the mainstream classroom and sessions are led by a trained practitioner in a small group situation.
The context for the study is South Wales and a number of early years settings and primary schools were involved. Data was collected from lesson plans created by practitioners, and their reflections following each session. Interviews were conducted on completion of the programme. Baseline scores around emotional and social interaction were gathered from pupils before and after the SMT programme and these were used as evidence of change. Using an interpretative methodology, themes were identified from looking within the data to interpret potential impact of the intervention on both pupil and practitioner (Coe et al., 2017). This interpretative methodology enabled a thematic analysis of data gathered.
Emerging themes identified from the data are:
- Increased confidence
- Greater social and emotional awareness
- Empowering learners
- Recognition of the contribution quiet, shy and anxious children can make in a classroom
The research identified that practitioners gained greater appreciation of the needs and contributions of quiet and shy learners in their classroom. Time spent in small groups allowed for meaningful conversations and the nurturing of relationships between practitioner and learner and learner with peers. Emerging evidence from the research is that the small group sessions fostered increasing levels of confidence, further empowering learners to become more interactive participants in the mainstream classroom. It also provided a safe space for more reticent learners to voice concerns and frustrations, enabling practitioners to adapt teaching practices to better accommodate all learners in the classroom. Practitioners valued the opportunity to develop relationships with these learners and there was a growing recognition of the valuable contributions quiet, shy and anxious learners can make to the classroom when opportunities are made available to them.
Coe, R., M. J. Waring, L.V. Hedges, and J. Arthur (Eds.) (2017) Research Methods and Methodologies in Education. Los Angeles: Sage.
Coplan, R.J., Hughes, K., Bosacki, S., Rose-Krasnor, L. (2011) Is Silence Golden? Elementary School Teachers’ Strategies and Beliefs Regarding Hypothetical Shy/Quiet and Exuberant/Talkative Children. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103 (4), pp. 939-951.
Crozier, W.R. (2014) Differentiating Shame from Embarrassment. Emotion Review, 6 (3), pp. 269-276.
Davis, S. (2012) Special Me Time and Quality Me Time Research Projects. Professional Doctorate - EdD, University of Wales. Available online at:
We Try and Turn them around, Don’t we? Supporting student autonomy at the margins of alternative provision
Claire Kinsella Staffordshire University
This study explores the perspectives and experiences of educators in relation to their everyday efforts to engage their pupils in learning within an alternative educational setting known as a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU). PRUs typically cater for a diverse range of students, including those who have been permanently excluded from school, as well as students who refuse to attend school, are pregnant, or are without a school place. While teaching staff within PRUs have traditionally drawn on therapeutic practices associated with an ethic of care, recent policy changes have exposed PRUs to more external accountability measures, thus reframing how they are run and changing the practices within them. In order to consider how teaching staff based at a PRU in the North-West of England attempted to engage learners while negotiating ongoing organisational change, a mixed-methodogical approach was adopted.
This paper draws on data collected over the course of 26 fieldwork visits and from semi-structured interviews which were conducted with five members of the unit’s teaching team. Self-determination theory (SDT) was mobilised to examine the experiences of the participating teaching staff as they worked to support individual students, while cultural historical activity theory (CHAT) was employed to more deeply consider the wider contextual factors that might influence their everyday practice. Findings reveal that, while staff valued practices that centred on the provision of an accepting and warm environment in which to develop more positive working relations with pupils, there was less consensus on the relative importance of their various vocational and curriculum offerings. However, one of the most fraught areas of practice to emerge in the findings were staff attempts to foster student autonomy since efforts here produced some of the most palpable classroom tensions and direct practical challenges. We suggest, then, that the tension between providing an educational environment as a form of ‘’respite’’ and one which focuses on the skills students need to ‘’reintegrate’’ back into mainstream school is underpinned by a fundamental challenge facing most educators: fostering educational values and goals that are endorsed by students themselves, rather than being externally imposed. This paper highlights some interesting, but uncertain, practices that staff at the school were experimenting with in order to grapple with this.
Rethinking independent learning as a practice of academic freedom using student vlogs
Loretta Anthony-Okeke University of Manchester
Independent learning and the development of independent learning skills expected of international students are at present significant topics in global education. It now needs to be considered the extent and ways independent learning is understood as a force for strengthening international student experience and expanding academic freedom.
In this paper, it is argued that vlogging as affective, behavioural and cognitive academic practice can inform understanding of independent learning as a practice for academic freedom. I suggest that learners can be positioned to have control over their learning, whereby vlogging emerges as an ethically practical means to critical thinking, self-reflection, and transformation, as well as enabling teachers and students to explore the possibilities of what it means to be critical global citizens, which is often undermined by teaching to the test and corporatisation of education. I argue, therefore, that such an approach implements and operationalises knowledge and practice approaches for independent learning, and ensures that independent learning is reconceptualised as dynamic experience rather than a continuum of linear processes for fostering autonomy. In England, where independent learning that aims to foster learner autonomy is increasingly relevant to improving the learning outcomes of learners, particularly those with no or little prior experience of any form of independent learning, I contend that vlogging reignites independent learning as an ethically responsive approach to nurture lifelong (global) learners.
This draws from a recent doctoral study exploring how independent learning, reconceptualised as affective, behavioural and cognitive experience, positions young people as agents of academic transformation. An exploratory qualitative research study, using the vlog-interview method (VIM), revealed international college students’ growing understanding of independent learning, and the importance of an independent learning-as-experience approach to college education underpinned by ethically responsive pedagogy that affects international students positively.
Clever But Not Posh
Cheryl Hedges Newman University
My research indicates that working class adult women in HE, via Access to HE programmes, often have several attempts at completing their further and/or higher education. Working class adult women attribute their final success to a number of factors, two of which will be the focus of this presentation, based upon research for my EdD thesis: Clever but not Posh. Firstly, the connection this group of women have with working class academics and the sense of seeing ‘people like me’, are strong motivators in university choice and experience for non-traditional adult learners. Secondly the creation of their own ‘social capital’ via student and family networks acts as more than a safety net and motivating force. However, my research suggests that the connections with tutors and a sense of being ‘Clever but not Posh’ enable corking-class students to choose institutions and courses based on interactions at Open Days. Students value the relationship with working-class academics as they ‘speak their language’ and are seen as supportive - this relationship constitutes an institutional habitus and fosters success in working-class women students. The idea that this group of students do not ‘belong’ can be reinforced by several factors: that these relational activities are not valued in the academy, notions of the ‘aloof academic’, and those who insist on ignoring their class experiences and insisting that they have to write ‘other people’s words’ in a way that is devoid of passion and emotion. The working-class academic, if visible in the academy, attaches importance to nurturing these women, building rapport, expectations of success, and forging friendships. This detaches traditional notions of power and status associated with the university lecturer, and the relationship becomes characterised by a focus on critical pedagogy and ethics of care.
This research is located within Critical Theory, using narrative inquiry to understand the educational experiences of working-class adult learners. The research conducted over the last year indicate that smaller, post-92 universities are the choice of working-class women students, that they make choices based on emotional connections, locality, family recommendations and how welcoming they perceive the institution and their academic staff to be. These findings give rise to the following points for discussion: what is a working-class academic? How can their visibility be encouraged? What strategies can be employed to allow working-class adult women to feel a sense of belonging and thus ensure their academic success?
The Influence of the Interplay of the Students with Dyslexia as Performers, Lecturers as Audience in the University as a Front on the Social Construction of Dyslexia in Higher Education (HE)
Dana Abu Omar University of Derby
This study explores the social construction of dyslexia as a therapeutic consumerist entity in Higher Education (HE) and its influence on students with dyslexia through highlighting marketisation reforms in HE. The paper aims to enquire about the social construction of dyslexia in HE sustaining its existence in higher education institutions (HEI). The continuing existence of dyslexia transforms students with dyslexia into explorers, real dyslexic and identity seekers/rebels and cynical dyslexic performers. This entity commodifies universities to become therapeutic services providers.
This study is conducted using Goffman's (1959) theory of performance to analyse the influence of dyslexia on the behaviour of students with dyslexia in HE. The concept of dyslexia has inconsistent definitions associated with the medical model in HEIs. The main findings of this chapter are: There is an interplay between the construction of the concept of dyslexia, and students with dyslexia, lecturers and university. Based on Goffman (1956), the concept of dyslexia becomes the tool used to obtain support in HE. Students with dyslexia become performers by performing the role of the patient; the lecturers become the audience, and the university becomes the front/stage where students perform, their roles influenced by the marketisation reforms in HE. To explain the construction of the concept of dyslexia as an inconsistently defined tool for performance in HE, the concept of dyslexia is arguably contested due to its inconsistent prevalence rates, and claimed genetic and neurological origins.
Interpreting the conceptualisation of dyslexia in HE in the light of Goffman (1956), the conceptualisation of dyslexia in HE creates the front of the performance. In the case of dyslexia in HE, the university becomes the front where students with dyslexia perform the role of the patient. To synthesise Goffman (1959) with Collinson's (2019) analysis of the biologisation of dyslexia, the concept of dyslexia as a therapeutic entity becomes a tool dramatic realisation creating the juxtaposition of dyslexia of real and cynical dyslexic performers. Viewing the concept of dyslexia as a progressive science reflected in medicalising dyslexia in HE through Goffman (1956), the medicalised concept of dyslexia becomes the tool lecturers in HE use to support students with dyslexia.
Migrant Children’s Education in China’s Disadvantaged Area: Privately-run migrant schools in Guiyang City
Yao Wang University of Newcastle
Privately-run migrant schools (PMSs) constitute the main educational provision for the children of internal migrants in China’s fast developing cities. They provide important educational opportunities for the children of migrants who would, instead, very likely be ‘left-behind’ children or have no educational opportunities (Hu, 2019). This research will demonstrate how these schools operate, and the educational and social improvements they aspire to. Different from previous studies, which tend to study PMSs in highly developed cities such as Beijing and Shanghai (Lai et al., 2014; Ling, 2015; Chen and Feng, 2017). I focus on schools in a relatively disadvantaged but burgeoning city, Guiyang, the capital city of one of China’s least developed provinces – Guizhou Province. There are insufficient studies on PMSs located in Guiyang and what they can offer, internationally or nationally. However, grassroots privately-run migrant schools are widespread in cities such as this.
Three main methods were applied in the approach to investigating PMSs: firstly, the views of a selection of local NGO staff were collected (among whom semi-structured interviews were undertaken with three NGO directors who are serving PMSs); secondly, the perspectives of principals (15 of whom completed questionnaires which aims to explore the socio-educational context of PMSs); and, thirdly, the researcher undertook participant and non-participant observation (ethnographically recorded in field notes and photos to map the characteristics of these privately-run institutions). Finally, 22 semi-structured interviews were undertaken with principals and teachers to explore schools’ challenges and aspirations from their perspectives. This data is examined to try and establish the role(s) PMSs are playing for migrant children’s education and their lives more broadly. Overall, this research aims to shed light on the circumstances of PMSs in Guiyang which would, otherwise, remain invisible from public view and, thus, the needs of these schools and their students are likely to remain unknown.
The Disconnect about Displacement: IDP access to educational alternatives in Iraq in the COVID-19 Era
Mariam Hassoun University of Oxford
Over six million Iraqis were displaced during the war with Daesh and, although many have returned to their communities, there are approximately1.3 million internally displaced persons (IDP) scattered across the country. Many IDP children in Iraq, whether in camps or in host communities, face challenges including poor infrastructure, lack of documentation, economic insecurity, trauma, and health shocks that make it difficult to access schooling. These shocks were compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic which led to nine months of nationwide school closures supported by some temporary use of online educational alternatives. However, distance learning is not accessible to the 50% of Iraq’s population without in-home internet access (ACAPS, 2020). This study explores how parents assess and identify the barriers internally displaced children who fled violent conflict with Daesh face in accessing education during the COVID-19 pandemic. Six IDP parents with out of school children and six IDP parents within school children were invited to take part in an online, semi-structured interview lasting up to one hour.
This study foregrounds the voices and family histories of IDPs when navigating educational access with particular attention to pandemic-related disruptions. Against a backdrop of grey literature that is largely dominated by household surveys, I make a methodological argument for the need for qualitative research on the ground. In doing so I clarify mainstream understandings of barriers and opportunities to education in Iraq. Although the literature says that poverty, trauma, and poor infrastructure are the main barriers to school access, these interviews suggest a more nuanced picture involving intangible challenges such as intergenerational illiteracy, bullying, and loss of faith in schooling’s promise. The data also indicates that the transformative qualities of displacement can potentially carry positive impacts related to resilience, including newfound opportunities for girls’ schooling, creative educational alternatives, and community participation. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has essentially halted all progress with respect to educational alternatives in the IDP community in Iraq due to lack of facilities appropriate for social distancing and inadequate access to internet and technology necessary for distance learning.
The Relevance of the Intangible: Community Engagement, Indigenous Knowledge Practices, and Sustainable Development at the University of Zambia
Marcelus Mbah Nottingham Trent University.
The reciprocal relationship inherent to concepts of community engagement assumes that knowledge flows between both the university and the community, each ostensibly contributing to the development of the other (Moore, 2014, among others). Although not without challenges due to power imbalances, exploitation, and what Preece (2016) refers to as ‘’subjugated knowledges’,’ community cultural knowledge engaged through these partnerships is intangible, as ‘’[i]t incorporates experiences, skills, and techniques, remembered and accumulated’’ (Turner et al., 2008, p. 46). This intangibility is often connected to notions of indigenous knowledge (IK) (Mawere, 2015), and as Castellano (2000) suggests, is best understood as reflecting traditional, empirical, and revealed understandings of the world associated with ‘’economic, cultural, political, spiritual, ecological and material forces and conditions’’ (Dei, 2000, p. 115). When engaged authentically, IK can have a decolonizing effect and contribute to the epistemological diversity of the university (Collins & Mueller, 2016), particularly when co-created via community-based research (CBR) initiatives in under-resourced contexts (McAteer & Wood, 2018).
The study used a collective, exploratory case study design that captured critical cases not generally reflected in the literature and intended to eventually produce a theoretically-sensitive cross-case synthesis of findings (Stake, 2006). We were driven by the following questions:
- How do African academics and their partners involved in CBR projects construct the role of IK and strategies within their activities?
- In what ways does the university act upon knowledge generated from CBR to influence sustainable development?
This presentation will report findings from one of the cases, the University of Zambia. Established in 1966, the University of Zambia (UNZA) is a public university located close to Lusaka, the capital city, and is home to 30,000 students and over 2000 administrative staff and faculty. The language of instruction is English, although the country itself boasts over 70 languages and dialects. Participants were identified via two techniques: criterion and snowball. Criteria were knowledge of institutional policy (for university members) and experience with CBR (for university and community members). Participants selected through criterion sampling were also asked to identify potential participants (i.e. snowball). Fieldwork entailed responsive and relational dialogues (interviews and talking circles) with academics engaged in community-based research, their community partners, and university administrators that support the research mission of the institution (N=50) (Chilisa, 2012). Data collection took place in English (with faculty and university administrators, n=34) and Bemba, Nyanja, and Soli (with community members, n=16). All data were transcribed into English for analysis purposes. The analysis strategy focused on using coding to parse the data and employing a thematic approach.
Findings suggest that universities can promote and maximize the relevance of local indigenous cultures, strategies, adaptations for sustainable development, as well as mitigate the monofaceted Eurocentric epistemology inherent in modern education via mechanisms that 1) Define the Intangible; 2) Legitimize the Intangible and 3) Sustain the Intangible. The study has the potential to inform the relationship between participation of higher education institutions (HEIs) in fostering sustainable development by seeking formal engagement with IK.
Who Assesses the Assessors?
Jonathon Barnes and Katie Akerman
University of Bristol, University of Chichester
This paper examines the relationship between positive disruption and power dynamics in assessment and feedback, and how a university has made space for the positive disruption of the power dynamic from within the student community. Positive disruption has allowed students to contest assessment and feedback policy and practice, and has enabled a more socially-just approach to assessment and feedback to be considered by the university. Exploring the intersection of positive disruption and power dynamics considers who assesses the assessors. Partnership has enabled a different pedagogical model to emerge, one that seeks to upend the traditional power dynamics of staff-driven change.
This paper has been prepared by an academic administrator (a traditionally under-represented voice in higher education) and a (now) former Education Studies student of the University of Chichester, UK. We have drawn upon the lived experience relating to assessment, to positive disruption and to power dynamics. We explain why we encouraged staff-student activity on assessment and feedback policy and practice, how the staff-student activity was realised, and what happened as a result of the staff-student activity, drawing upon reflections on the lived experience. Assessment policy and practice is contextualised within the history of higher education in the UK, explaining why the university felt it right to take decisive action, that drew upon the expertise of its student population. The University of Chichester is a member of the Cathedrals Group, a partnership of universities united by common church foundations, and the sharing of a commitment to access and participation, to equality, diversity and inclusivity – to social justice. New approaches to assessment and feedback policy and practice enable the adoption of more socially-just pedagogical practices.
Fostering Engagement by Grading: A study of students’ participation in assessed tutorials
Asad Ghalib Liverpool Hope University
Student-led tutorials were introduced at the Liverpool Hope Business School after some issues arising in the existing ‘teacher-led’ model. It was felt that these tutorials were becoming just another form of mini-lectures with the lecturers going through tutorial readings in class with minimal student participation and engagement. The new model was designed to engage students. They were awarded marks for attendance and engagement, including submitting a one-page summary of the reading. Twice a year, individual students were responsible for presenting the material with the aid of PowerPoint slides and subsequently leading the discussion around the topic.An explanatory sequential mixed-methods design (Creswell, 2015) was used to capture student feedback and assess the model’s effectiveness and value for students. The first phase comprised a questionnaire-based survey held over a period of two years. Data obtained was analyzed and used to draw up questions for discussion in the second phase which gathered qualitative data during focus group discussions (Creswell, and Plano Clark, 2011). Inferences were finally drawn by mixing data from both phases (based on the model by Ivankova & Stick 2007).
Study findings revealed that first-year students were largely appreciative of the model and stated that the presentations had enabled them to be more confident in standing up and speaking in front of the class. There were mixed responses, however, from second-year students as they had followed the previous system in which they had got an ‘easy ride’ by just sitting idly in tutorials as they were not being assessed. They did, however, admit in the focus group discussions that their presentation skills and confidence had improved in the new model in which they had to present to the class as well as actively participate in the ensuing discussion. The primary aim of this study, carried through a student survey, was to solicit student feedback about the newly-introduced format whereby students were supposed to present to their tutorial group. For the first two years, undergraduate students were supposed to present tutorial readings to their tutorial group while the final year students presented on their dissertation progress. The study provides valuable insights into how students’ learning and engagement and feedback was significantly improved as compared to the previous tutor-led model.
Creswell, J. W. (2015) A Concise Introduction to Mixed Methods Research. California: Sage Publications,.
Creswell, J. W. and V. L. Plano Clark (2011) Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. California, Sage Publications.
Ivankova, N., & Stick, S. (2007) Students’ persistence in a distributed doctoral program in educational leadership in higher education: A mixed methods study. Research in Higher Education, 48(1), PP. 93-135.
‘If you’re viewed as that stereotypical black person, you’re not going to do as well’: Racial Inequalities in Assessment and Assessment Practice in Higher Education: A multi-disciplinary case-study
Paul Campbell University of Leicester
Data indicates that relationships between race, ethnicity and assessment preference, performance and outcomes in British Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are subtle and complex. They manifest in different aspects of the assessment process, which intersect and translate into uneven and unequal levels of access, performance and awards for students from different minority ethnic groups.
Despite this, relatively little critical attention has been given specifically to ‘assessments’ and to the processes of assessment in HEIs. While there are a growing number of attempts to decolonize the curriculum in a broader sense, seldom have projects examined ‘assessment’ as part of colonial systems, which contribute to the marginalisation and privilege of different students. Consequently, we know relatively little with regards to rather routine questions, such as: How do assessments contribute to or produce wider outcome differences between BAME and white students? Why do certain heritage students, on average, appear to perform better in certain forms of assessments over others? The extent to which barriers to ‘higher-grade’ BAME performance are intrinsic to specific assessment types or connected to wider pedagogical practice? Or to the ways in which wider social and cultural factors – and proxies for race - such as socio-economic background, cultural capital, location and so on, intersect, influence and may contribute to the performance of different BAME-heritage students in particular forms of assessment? Drawing on interview data of over 44 south Asian, ‘black’ and white biology, physics, law, and sociology students, this paper reports on some of the introductory responses to these questions.
‘When I was 11, I was more concerned about having fun with my friends and playing football.’ Exploring GCSE students’ perceptions of assessments and the performative culture in schools.
Kiah Bond Newman University
Performativity is the outcome of numerous government policies around assessment and accountability which sought state-regulated reform for the purposes of economic growth and educational excellence. Such governance in education has led to individual practitioners living an existence of calculation in response to demands for progress, standardization and monitoring. These reforms have been set by non- teachers yet directly impact on them and their sense of professional purpose, identity and values.
Neoliberal ideology presents competition as a determining characteristic of human relations and pre 2019 this could be seen with Key Stage 2 tests being used by secondary schools to predict students’ GCSE results. Now these tests have been cancelled and how students will be assessed in GCSEs and A Levels this year remains unclear. It is time to hear another voice, the voice of students and their concerns; they are the consumers of our education offer: Is it kind, relevant to the world of work and ‘world-beating’?
This paper focuses on GCSE students’ lived experiences of the effects of performativity. A phenomenological inquiry was carried out with six students taking Religious Studies GCSE, my specialist subject. Interviews were conducted before the first lockdown in March 2019; students were given journals and asked to email extracts and absent students were emailed the set questions. To support students’ wellbeing and to limit stress, extracts and responses were not mandatory but gratefully received.
Performativity was defined in the information and consent forms given prior to interviews and students were made aware that their Key Stage 2 tests were used to predict their GCSE target grades. Some positive responses included: students recognised that target grades could be aspirational and motivating, good quality feedback from assessments supported students’ understanding and smaller classes helped them to receive individual support. However, all students felt pressurised to perform, and some felt overwhelmed by the time of five years to meet the expectations of target grades and the number of yearly assessments.
Education Studies: An international perspective
David Menendez Alvarez-Hevia Manchester Metropolitan University
Alejandro Rodriguez-Martin University of Oviedo
Dolors Forteza Forteza University of the Balearic Islands
Emilio Álvarez-Arregui University of Oviedo
Education Studies in the UK emerged as an independent subject in the late 1990s. Initially it was introduced in just few universities as an ‘’ideal subject as preparation for teaching and other careers’’ and in combination with other subjects (Simon, 2019, p.2). It is now present in most of the universities, in different forms, with different titles and mainly associated to faculties or departments of education (Bartlett and Burton, 2016). However, it is still difficult to discuss outside UK what Education Studies means. In an international forum, the representation of education studies is more elusive, takes multiple forms and presents its own epistemological trajectory associated to the particularities of each context. This paper aims to discuss diverse conceptualisations, practices and views associated with education studies from an international perspective to facilitate the communication, understanding and presence of the education studies community in a global context. The study provides an original insight that brings together reflections, quotes and stories from people involved in education studies, equivalent areas or programmes of study from different parts of the world. More specifically, we present ideas that emerge from an open discussion between academics and students from a diverse array of international higher education contexts, including voices from the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Canada and United States. This discussion is articulated around four elements that we explore through informal focus group discussions:
1. Common features or views (e.g. multi-professional possibilities, openness to different forms of education that include exploring formal/informal/non-formal aspects or settings, interest on the study of the multidisciplinary nature of education)
2. Differences (e.g. curriculum design, course organisation, contextual differences and traditions that influence research and academic practices)
3. Challenges (e.g. employability issues, respond to global concerns, resist internal and external pressures to instrumentalise knowledge, social sciences and higher education)
4. Possibilities (e.g. innovative approaches to teaching, learning, research and curriculum design, ethical internationalisation: international collaborations and the development of the education/al studies global community).
We discuss how education study looks in different international contexts. Finally, we open the discussion to explore the possibility-impossibility of developing a common international framework for Education studies.
Bartlett, S. & Burton, D. (2016). Introduction to Education Studies. London: SAGE.
Simon, C.A. and Ward, S. (2019). A Student’s Guide to Education Studies. Abingdon: Routledge.
Reconsidering Resilience as an Educational Goal
Michael Hall University of Winchester
Resilience is positioned as a key driver of good educational outcomes, hence the development of resilience (in the form of character, grit, determination, fortitude and so forth) has been advanced as a key outcome of learning. Resilience has been linked with successful progression through and beyond education. Yet common conceptions of resilience fall victim to an ontological contradiction whereby learners are conceived of simultaneously as pre-existing entities interacting with a pre-existing world and as dynamically formed subjects in relation to a dynamic world. This poses significant challenges to the fostering of resilience as a discrete educational outcome. On the one hand, if learners are assumed to be sovereign, independent entities that act autonomously, independently of social relations, then resilience is positioned as a trait or a quality indicating an ability to resist the negative effects of change. This enables the pathologisation of a lack of resilience and justifies a lack of attention to socially-constructed barriers to learners’ resilience.
On the other hand, if learners’ identities are assumed to be mouldable and shaped through social relations, then resilience is positioned as a means of bouncing back or growing through exposure to adversity. Hence it is a generative capacity. On the face of it, this is incompatible with a conception of an independent, autonomous, authentic self. Furthermore, the foundational assumption of the sovereign, authentic individual on the ‘outside’ of power is incompatible with the intended transformatory capacity assigned to resilience, which assumes that the learner is embedded in a system of social relations. Hence, to conceive of resilience as a personal quality that may be discretely imparted is flawed.
Drawing on Michel Foucault’s concept of technologies of the self, this paper instead argues in favour of Chandler’s model of post-classical resilience. This proposes engaging with resilience as a kind of technology of self-transformation grounded in a purposive and agentive relation to oneself and to others. Schools, therefore, have the opportunity to re-position resilience, not as coping (maintaining stability despite external disruption) or mere adaptation (transitioning from one steady state to another), but as a dynamic process of growth in which the self is open to fundamental transformation. Such would enable a conception of resilience grounded in individual agency in response to social influences.
The Health, Status and Future of Undergraduate Education Programmes: A comparison of course leaders’ views on leading and developing the subject within different institutions.
Mark Pulsford University of Warwick
Rebecca Morris University of Warwick
Ross Purves University College London
This paper reports preliminary findings from the project selected by BESA to receive funding in their 2019/20 research grant cycle. It aims to give an overview of the emerging themes from a sector-wide online survey and in-depth interviews with a smaller sample of UG Education programme leaders, both conducted in Spring 2020. Education courses are a popular choice for undergraduate students in the UK, with a UCAS search suggesting there are more than 800 courses delivered at almost 140 institutions. Whilst the development of this academic field has received attention in recent years (Furlong, 2013; McCulloch and Cowan, 2018), what has been less well considered is the way that Education Studies courses are designed and enacted in practice. What does it mean to lead an Education Studies undergraduate course? What are the decisions and challenges that course leaders face in a dynamic HE landscape? How is this terrain affected by a fast-changing ITE environment? How do these pivotal members of the Education Studies community feel about their role in shaping the subject for the future? And what are the discernible differences across different types of institution (such as Russell Group, Post-92, FE college)?
In examining these sorts of questions, this project contributes to the currently small body of literature on HE programme leadership (see Sanderson, 2018; Cahill et al., 2015; Murphy and Curtis, 2013). Moreover, in doing this we seek to map and understand the health, status and future of UG Education as a vital step towards ensuring the longevity and evolution of the subject. This is likely to raise important questions, both of an academic and practical nature, regarding the range of provision for students; the ‘vocational’ or labour-market role of Education Studies; and the buoyancy of the subject within an increasingly competitive UK higher education system.
To Blog or not to Blog: To understand how (if at all) blogs provide collaborative and co-constructed learning experiences for part-time students in higher education.
Fiona Casserley Nottingham Trent University
In this presentation I will address the fact that blogs are presented as being transformative in the area of higher education. Although blogs are presenting new opportunities for developing online learning experiences (Garcia et al, 2019) do they really enhance interactivity, participation and feedback between students and their peer groups? Considering student expectations and competencies this interactive session will discuss theory and practice using Connectivism (Siemens, 2009; 2014; Downes, 2010) and Social Constructivism, using the key framework of Vygotsky (1978).
Drawing on my doctoral research I argue that the practice of blogging depends on how online discussion tools are valued, perceived and understood in the context of learning. Meaning, the use of a blog (a cultural tool) to facilitate the learning environment may be influenced by academics and students’ own interpretations of the social world (Murphy, Scantlebury and Milne, 2015).
Downes, S. (2010) New Technology Supporting Informal Learning. Journal of Emerging Technologies in Web Intelligence, 2(1), pp.27-33.
Garcia, E., Moizer, J., Wilkins, S. and Haddoud, M.Y. (2019) Student earning in Higher Education through Blogging in the Classroom. Computers & Education, 136, pp.61-74.
Murphy, C., Scantlebury, K. and Milne, C. (2015) Using Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development to propose and test an explanatory model for conceptualising coteaching in pre-service science teacher education. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 43(4), pp.281-295.
Siemens, G. (2009) Continuing Attempt to Destabilise Courses. URL Online. Available at http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/connectivism/ (Accessed 19 June 2021)
Siemens, G. (2014) Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Oxford: Blackwell.
Vygotsky, L. (1978) Interactions between Learning and Development. In M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner & E. Souberman (Eds.) Mind and Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Mindful Approaches with Primary School Pupils (aged 7-10 years) in a Nature Reserve, from the Perspective of their Teachers.
Dylan Adams Cardiff Metropolitan University
Gary Beauchamp Cardiff Metropolitan University
It has been over fifteen years since Louv (2005) stated that children were suffering from ‘nature deficit disorder’’ and Miller (2005) warned of the damaging effects of biodiversity loss as people become increasingly disconnected from nature. Since then, numerous studies have aimed to improve children’s nature connection (Barrable and Booth, 2020). However, there are those who contend that the very concepts of ‘nature deficit’ and ‘nature connection’ are both symptomatic and contributory causes of the problem (Dickinson, 2013; Fletcher, 2017). This is because ironically ‘biodiversity conservation has historically sought to separate humans from ‘nature’ to the greatest extent possible’ (Fletcher, 2017, p.230). Moreover, simply providing access to biodiverse environments does not address the fundamental, political, and prevailing conceptual understandings of human and more-than-human relations (Dickinson, 2013; Fletcher, 2017).
This study investigated teachers’ perceptions of children’s experiences of undertaking mindful approaches at a nature reserve. The research was situated within an interpretivist, qualitative paradigm that sought to investigate teachers’ perceptions of the impact of mindful approaches on children’s experiences at a nature reserve. Eight teachers and eight groups of children, from eight different primary schools, took part in the study. The children were aged between 7 and 11 years old and were from a range of socio-economic backgrounds. A representative random sample of the children and all the teachers were interviewed after the visit to the nature reserves. The analysis of the teachers’ responses generated four main themes. These were: pedagogical approaches; contemplative time; ways of knowing; and ways of being. The themes are linked to a theoretical background that contends our relationship with nature needs to be at the heart of a renewed philosophy of education (Bonnett, 2019; Jardine, 2016). Furthermore, it is argued that mindful or contemplative approaches offer a reorientation for education in the West as they allow a withdrawal from an adherence to a ‘frozen futurism’ (Smith, 2000), and present an alternative to an anthropocentric and objectivistic worldview.
Barrable, A. & Booth, D. (2020) Increasing Nature Connection in Children: A mini review of interventions. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, p. 492.
Bonnett, M. (2019) Towards an Ecologization of Education. The Journal of Environmental Education, 50(4-6), pp. 251-258.
Dickinson, E. (2013) The Misdiagnosis: Rethinking ‘nature-deficit disorder’. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture, 7(3), pp. 315-335.
Fletcher, R. (2017) Connection with Nature is an Oxymoron: A political ecology of ‘nature-deficit disorder’. The Journal of Environmental Education, 48(4), pp. 226-233.
Jardine, D. W. (2016). In Praise of Radiant Beings: A retrospective path through education, Buddhism and ecology. Charlotte. NC: IAP.
Louv, R. (2005) Last hild in the Woods: Saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. New York: Algonquin Books.
Miller, J. R. (2005) Biodiversity Conservation and the Extinction of Experience. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 20(8), pp. 430-434.
Smith, D. G. (2000) The Specific Challenges of Globalization for Teaching and Vice Versa. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 46(1).
Same Actors, Undecided Roles: Towards an understanding of forest Schools as sites of knowledge construction
Angela Garden Liverpool John Moores University
Building on a rich history of outdoor learning, forest schools represent a distinctive educational approach that has emerged in the UK over the past 17 years (McCree, 2018). The approach generally aims to develop confidence through opportunities to engage in hands-on learning experiences in a woodland environment (Murray and O’Brien 2005; Forest Education Initiative 2007). However, forest schools originated from the Danish concept of ‘udeskole’ meaning ‘outdoor school’, which is practised by most schools across Scandinavia (Knight, 2013). In these contexts, the outdoor environment is a significantly appreciated aspect of the school curriculum. For example, Danish schools emphasise real life learning through curriculum subjects such as nature/technology (Nature/Technology, 2018). Whilst UK curricula also reference outdoor spaces, their value is not explicitly foregrounded in the same way. This leads to something of a lacuna in the validation of UK forest schools because they cannot be recontextualised in a way that is sympathetic to the original idea. As such, UK forest schools often appear to act in tension with official discourses of knowledge and learning in a way that Scandinavian approaches do not.
This paper aims to provide a theoretical lens through which to examine this tension. Drawing largely on the fields of human geography and interactionism, the paper examines ways in which new educational spaces can be formed, contested and colonised beyond the classroom. We make no claims to the learning efficacy of such spaces per se. Rather we aim to demonstrate that such spaces create conditions in which new interactions, rituals and practices can be constructed that can lead to different learning experiences and the construction of qualitatively different kinds of knowledge to those offered by more formal learning spaces. As such, we see the tension between classroom spaces and outdoor spaces as something to be celebrated. We argue that forest schools should be seen as a ‘third space’ that exists between the highly ritualised spaces that constitute classrooms and the more fluid, flexible spaces that constitution home life. As such, forest schools can be seen as new spaces where existing roles are subverted, and familiar actors are required to construct new identities and practices. This, we argue, has the potential to create new opportunities for the construction of knowledge within the forest school and beyond.
“I learn better this way”: Forest school as alternative pedagogy
David Cudworth De Montfort University
Over the past 25 years Forest School (FS) in the UK has been growing in popularity as part of a wider resurgence of interest in outdoor learning. The purpose of this paper is to share some insights from my current research and interest in why FS and outdoor learning should be just as important, if not more important, as traditional academic learning.
FS facilitates a more intrinsic learning experience, away from the more structured approach adopted by the neo-liberal classroom (Waite & Goodenough, 2018). Such involvement with an ‘alternative’ learning environment than that constructed by mainstream schooling has shown to benefit attention and memory, enjoyment for learning and increased academic development (Kuo, et. al., 2019). With its emphasis on play-based learning in wooded areas, and the freedom and autonomy to make connections with what is around them, such engagement in these ‘alternative’ learning spaces is also having a major benefit on the wellbeing and physical development of children and participating adults (Chawla et al., 2014). With increased frequency of engagement in FS, children can also develop a secure attachment to the setting and with others in that setting including all other non-human creatures (Cudworth, 2020). From the premise that what goes on in spaces and places is fundamentally linked to both social and spatial processes, this paper also attempts to understand the spatialities of FS in order to frame the practice within a socio-spatial analytic.
The paper draws on a range of empirical methods including focus groups and interviews with teachers, practitioners and children and participant observations in three schools in Leicestershire. Data is also drawn from field notes during a FS leader training programme the author attended from April 2017 to May 2018. Further data will also draw on the experiences of 2nd year Education Studies university students after completing a module on FS and Outdoor learning in an East Midlands based HEI. The paper finds that the more learners engage with the natural environment and interact with others within that space, the more it affords meaning to them and enhances their learning. Where schools provide FS opportunities on their sites, such provision is also conducive to supporting more creative practices within the spatialities of the neo-liberal classroom. Subsequently, I believe that the rise in the popularity of FS demonstrates its potential for recognition in policy frameworks and should be rolled out to all schools.
Braun, T. & Dierkes, P. (2017) Connecting Students to Nature: How intensity of nature experience and student age influence the success of outdoor education programs. Environmental Education Research, 23, pp. 937-949.
Chawla, L., Keenan, K., Pevec, I. and Stanley, E. (2014) Green Schoolyards as Havens from Stress and Resources for Resilience in Childhood and Adolescence. Health and Place, 28, pp. 1-13.
Comishin, K., Dyment, J., Potter, G. & Russell, L. (2004) The Development and Implementation of Outdoor-based Secondary School Integrated Programs. Applied Environmental Education & Communication, 3(1), pp. 47–53.
Cudworth, D (2020) Promoting an Emotional Connection to Nature and other Animals via Forest School: Disrupting the spaces of neoliberal performativity, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 41(3-4), pp. 506-521.
Kuo, M., Barnes, M. and Jordan, C. (2019) Do Experiences with Nature Promote Learning? Converging evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship. Frontiers in Psychology, 10(305), pp. 1-9.
Larsen, L., Szczytko, R., Bowers, P., Stephens, E., Stevenson, T. and Floyd, F. (2019) Outdoor Time, Screen Time, and Connection to Nature: Troubling trends among rural youth? Environment and Behaviour, 51(8), pp. 966-991.
Louv, R. (2005) Last Child in the Woods: Saving our children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin.
Lumber, R., Richardson, M. and Sheffield, D. (2017) Beyond Knowing Nature: Contact, emotion, compassion, meaning, and beauty are pathways to nature connection. PLOS ONE, 12(5), pp. 1-24.
Waite, S. and Goodenough, A. (2018) What is different about Forest School? Creating a space for an alternative pedagogy in England. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education, 21(1), pp. 25-44.
The Chicken or the Egg? Prioritising teacher confidence vs. teacher competence when using technology to create effective learning opportunities.
Sophie Meace University of South Wales
Technology is no doubt considered to be a powerful pedagogical tool (Sutherland & Triggs, 2009), playing an important role in learning within the curriculum at varying levels of education (Gillespie, 2007). The new curriculum for Wales (Welsh Government, 2020) and the emergence of the Digital Competence Framework (Welsh Government, 2018) provides an exciting opportunity to explore further how technology can be in embedded in the curriculum across the sector.
Much previous research into technology in education focusses on in-class technologies and tools that can be used to make learning more interactive and engaging. Technology integration in the classroom often offers a one-size-fits-all approach, when in fact this does not always fit teachers’ existing pedagogical beliefs and practices (Mishra & Koehler, 2007). It has been argued that the most common reasons teachers are often most reluctant to use technology in the classroom is indeed largely down to existing beliefs and a lack of knowledge and self-efficiency (Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010). Altering teacher beliefs is one of the key challenges in adopting the use of technology and it has been suggested that this immediate change may begin with developing teacher confidence (Ertmer, 2005).
The challenges faced by teachers when using technology for teaching and learning have been largely exacerbated during the COVID-19 global pandemic (Crick et al., 2020; Lederman, 2020; Watermeyer et al., 2020). This presentation will share findings of an initial survey that was shared across a number of secondary schools in Wales and which aimed to explore teacher perceptions, attitudes and experiences of technology use for teaching and learning during a pandemic. This initial survey forms part of an ongoing PhD study which is investigating teacher perceptions and attitudes of technology use in their practice in light of the Digital Competence Framework.
Findings of this initial study indicate that, whilst teacher participants recognise the importance of having the confidence to use technology, there is a large emphasis on the ‘technical skills’ needed to use the tools. Competence and ‘technical skills’ are being prioritised over having the confidence to use technology effectively to create meaningful learning opportunities. This presentation will draw on these initial findings and present a discussion around some of the challenges faced by teachers across Wales. It will highlight how teacher confidence and competence need to work hand-in-hand to create effective learning opportunities with technology.
Government, W. (2018) Digital Competence Framework Guidance. Online. Available at https://hwb.gov.wales/storage/337437b8-cfe3-4305-ae32-f47ad82f3e76/digital-competence-framework-guidance-2018.pdf (Accessed 19 June 2021).
Government, W. (2020) Curriculum for Wales. https://hwb.gov.wales/curriculum-for-wales
Ertmer, P. A. & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T. (2010) Teacher Technology Change: How Knowledge, Confidence, Beliefs, and Culture Intersect. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(3), pp. 255–284.
Ertmer, P. (2005) Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs: The final frontier in our quest for technology integration? Educational Technology Research & Development, 53, pp. 25–39.
Crick, T., Knight, C., Watermeyer, R. & Goodhall, J. (2020) The Impact of COVID-19 and ‘Emergency Remote Teaching’ on the UK Computer Science Education Community. Swansea: University of Swansea.
Mishra, P. & Koehler, M. J. (2007) Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK): Confronting the wicked problems of teaching with technology. Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference, 2214–2226.
Collaborating in School Networks: The realities of navigating the professional boundaries of schools
Julia Everitt Birmingham City University
Since the start of state education policymakers have encouraged schools in England to collaborate and form networks with the statutory, private and third sectors. These partnerships and their co-ordinating roles support the wider outcomes of schooling, but the co-ordination has been reduced due to the desire for increased academic outcomes and a smaller state. The need for wider outcomes remains, but it is unknown how those involved are collaborating to meet these needs. Little published research exists on the practical aspects of these collaborations from both teacher and partner perspectives. This paper addresses this gap through interviews with four teachers/support staff and fifteen partners. The interviews explored the question of who is involved in schools and how the networks operate in practice.
The interviews highlight a messiness and complexity as the partners reported a constant struggle to find the right person with a shared ethos. Access to schools was restricted, so partners sought decision-makers, brokers or used networks. Not all teachers were decision-makers, but those who were highlighted a pressure from performativity which affected their decisions to bring partners into schools. There are key recommendations for policymakers to improve this situation, such as an awareness of these issues, but also teachers and partners who have to navigate this complexity. This includes being open around interests to collaborate, regular audits and publishing a process statement to outline how they intend to work in partnership.
Re-thinking Kolb: Open Learning ‘Cycles’ and the case for micro-reflections.
Joe Gazdula Edge Hill University
Sarah Evans Manchester Metropolitan University.
This a conceptual paper using a systematic literature search which considers the usefulness of Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle (Kolb, 1984) and suggests there may be better alternatives to consider in a modern society where technology and global change dictate that experiences are increasingly based around a singular event. There are any number of adaptations of this model and others of learning as a reflective cyclical experience (See Boud et al., 1985; Gibb, 1988; Atkins and Murphy, 1993). The Kolb cycle is widely promoted through educational texts and used as key underpinning learning theory when teachers complete projects, dissertations and theses. However, there is a growing body of recent literature which argues this cyclical approach may be of limited use and in some instances erroneous in its use.
Kolb’s experiential learning cycle has had its fair share of critiques: for example Webb (2004) concluded the model was unviable arguing it is a dramatic distortion of the very epistemological fundaments it references, neither did learning take place in four clearly defined stages. Forrest (2012: np) states ‘…that a number of processes can occur at once and stages can be jumped or missed out completely.’ Forrest notes that Kolb drew the model based on a research base was small with limited (western) cultural underpinnings and fails to consider the many non-experiential ways people learn. Our own research with education students (Gazdula and Atkin, 2017) also noted the limitations of the model as students on placement learned from a number of singular but significant learning events which made us question not only the usefulness of the experiential learning cycle but also its widespread use.
It is likely that Kolb’s experiential learning cycle was influenced by the work of Dewey (1933) who himself was a strong proponent of reflecting on experience. However, Dewey realised that learning came not just from reflection on experiences but required some thought on future actions and reflecting forward. Time has also moved on and, while Dewey lived in an era of jobs based around increasingly repetitive industrial tasks, the de-industrialisation of countries in the western world has seen a shift towards more creative knowledge-based industries where ideas and learning might be opportunistic and singular causing a lack of opportunities for reflection and revision. The need to reflect forward might be the only reflection possible. Wheeler, (2012) calls Kolb’s model anachronistic and belonging to another time arguing, ‘It is time to develop new models to explain the processes that occur when people learn using socially rich interactive digital media.’ (p. 1).
To overcome this we considered a number of linear learning curves which overcame the critiques of Kolb (Wright, 1936; Mendez and Johnson, 2012, Jaber, 2016) before devising a conceptual model based on Otto Sharmer’s Theory U (2009) and developing it into a model of learning along a linear curve with continuous micro-reflections to provide a model of deep learning for education students in the modern era.
Atkins, S. and Murphy, K. (1994) Reflective Practice. Nursing Standard, 8(39), pp.49-56. Boud, D., Keogh, R. and Walker, D. (Eds) (1985) Reflection: ~Turning experience into learning. London: Kogan Page.
Dewey, J. (1933) How we Think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. Boston: D.C. Heath and Company.
Forrest, C. (2012) Kolb's Learning Cycle. Train the Trainer, 12.
Gazdula, J. Atkin, C. (2017) Enterprise Placements: Factors which support learning and prolonged attainment in students. Research in Post Compulsory Education, 22(1), pp. 128-143.
Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit. Oxford: Oxford Polytechnic.
Jaber, M.Y. (2016) Learning Curves Theory, Models and Applications. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Kolb, D.A. (1984) Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall.
Mendez-Garcia, J. and Johnson, W. (2012) HBR Throw Your Life an S-Curve, Harvard Business Review.
Wheeler S. (2012) Recycling Kolb posted on his blog: ‘Learning with 'e's My thoughts about learning technology and all things digital.’ Experiential learning articles + critiques of David Kolb's theory. Online, available at http://reviewing.co.uk/research/experiential.learning.htm#webb#ixzz4DLWkhuLi (Accessed 19 June 2019).
Wright, T. (1936) Factors Affecting the Cost of Airplanes. Journal of Aeronautical Science, 3 pp. 122-128.
Re-Assessing Religious Education: Understanding the challenges and exploring the possibilities in Scottish non-denominational primary schools.
Stephen Scholes University of Glasgow
This paper seeks to address a significant lacuna in existing scholarship by re-assessing the provision of Religious Education (RE) in Scottish non-denominational primary schools (Matemba, 2018). It responds directly to the conference theme as the paper provides fresh insights into the challenges, possibilities, and the alternatives for a curriculum area that often languishes at the margins of school curricula. The paper reports on a documentary research project covering 203 non-denominational primary schools across four local authorities in Scotland. The project examined the available inspection documentation and handbooks for each of these schools, recognising that they provide valuable, though limited, snapshots of educational practices and processes (McCulloch, 2004). This sample has allowed for a regional-level analysis of provision in RE between August 2016 and August 2020 to be offered in this paper. The documentation has been analysed through qualitative content analysis, thematic coding, and triangulation with curriculum and inspection frameworks. Attention has also been paid to the relevant legislation concerning RE, given that it occupies the unique position of being the only curriculum area made mandatory by law in Scotland.
Building on the previously recognised situation for RE provision, the findings highlight that there is variability with respect to the degree of school compliance with statutory expectations (Robertson et al., 2017). The findings also draw attention to how schools are enacting curriculum expectations through various practices, including school visits. Most significantly the findings highlight that the focus of teaching in RE is shifting from an emphasis on Christianity to an engagement with the broad themes of inclusion and diversity. This supports the position advanced in this paper that RE in primary schools is increasingly centred around the development of pupils’ capacities for citizenship, contributing to community, and living in a multifaith society.
Matemba, Y. (2018) Religious (and Moral) Education. In T.G. K. Bryce, W.M. Humes, D. Gillies and A. Kennedy (Eds) Scottish Education (5th ed.) Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
McCulloch, G. (2004) Documentary Research in Education, History, and the Social Sciences. London: RoutledgeFalmer.
Robertson, L. Hepburn, L. McLauchlan, A. and Walker, J. (2017) The Humanities in the Primary School: Where are we and in which direction should we be heading? A perspective from Scotland. Education 3-13. 45(3), pp. 320-331.
Teaching Strategies for Inclusive Teaching of the Critical Interpretation of the Quran in Muslim-faith Institutes
Akbar Ali Staffordshire University
This paper discusses teachers’ and students’ perspectives on inclusive teaching in Muslim faith institutes offering Dars-e-Nizami classes. Most Muslim schools use partitions between male and female students, or teach in single-sex classrooms. The impact of this phenomenon on students’ critical thinking skills has not been studied before. The main research question is: How do teachers and students understand inclusive teaching in Muslim Institutes offering Dars-e-Nizami classes? Secondary research questions include:
- What is the role of inclusivity on students’ critical thinking skills?
- What are the traits of an effective teacher?
- What strategies do teachers and students propose for effective teaching?
I used Interpretive Phenomenology Analysis (IPA) as a methodology to explore the perspectives of teachers and students by conducting a semi-structured interview with three male and one female teachers, and two male and two female students involved in teaching and learning the critical interpretation of the Quran. I could not achieve a gender balance among teaching participants due to lack of female teachers teaching interpretation of the Quran. In addition to semi-structured in-depth interviews that lasted from 20 to 25 minutes, I conducted four non-participatory observations and studied four presentations they used for teaching and learning. The use of non-participatory observation and document studies allowed me to understand the course.
I have also made sure that the current study meets with the basic research ethic principle that the study does not cause any harm to myself, research participants and the institutes. In this study, informed consent was gained from research participants to collect data and the discussion and data analysis and especially verbatim extracts from the extract in final writing. The research participants were contacted on the phone and through email, but before the interview, I revisited consent, freedom of participation, and withdrawal from the study. I emphasised how anonymity will be made. Throughout the interview, I also offered support if I thought that a question might be upsetting due to the sensitivity of the issue.
I have used IPA starting with a line-by-line analysis of the perspectives both teachers and students offer (Larkin, Watts, Clinton, 2006), followed by identifying the emergent themes from the nodes focus on commonality and nuance. The main themes were developed from sub-themes and finally were analysed in the light of research questions and literature review. The study recommends following teaching strategies for effective teaching:
- Interdisciplinary teaching and learning
- Real-world teaching and learning
- Inquiry-led teaching and learning
The proposed strategies enable teachers to create a safe environment where both male and female students participate in generating, re-thinking and experimenting with the interpretation of the Quran.
Smith, J., Flowers, P. and Larkin, M. (2012) Interpretive Phenomenology Analysis. New Dehli: Sage Publications.
Larkin, M., Watts, S. and Clifton, E. (2006) Giving Voice and Making sense in Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, pp. 102-120.
The influence of Kirtan in Early Years Education on the Foundation of Spirituality in a Sikh Nursery
Japjit Kaur Newman University
Spiritualty has been explored through different types of creativity; in this research, the medium of a Sikh traditional, devotional form of music known as Kirtan has been used to discover children’s awareness of spirituality. Exploring Kirtan through collective worship allowed insight on whether it can be described as a foundational method of expressing the emergence of spirituality in Early Years (EY). Spiritual development has become crucial for children if they are to be more fulfilled and achieve a lifelong love for learning (Lunn, 2015). As a recognised and essential part of holistic development (Watson, 2006), intrinsic to all aspects of learning and crucial in a deeper understanding of self, everyday spirituality (Bone, 2007) emphasises all experiences to be of a spiritual nature as a foundation for identity, meaning and hope.
To achieve the above, I reviewed literature considering current legislation, policy and practice relating to the emergence of spirituality and spiritual growth followed by a review on child development, research with children and the Early Years. This research study followed five children over the course of one academic year in their journey of spiritual development; to explore this, I undertook an ethnographic case study design which included video-based observations, coding schedule, sampling methods, researcher immersion, reflexivity, intuitive thinking, participant observation as well as video-recorded interviews using play and art-based research with careful consideration of ethical challenges of researching young children.
The new knowledge that emerged from this research demonstrated links against a model of spirituality in music education which van der Merwe and Habron (2015) suggested may be of use to researchers. It was essential, for this research, to also represent Van Manen’s four lifeworld existential (lived experiences; 1990): where the children’s experiences were analysed against four existential themes (corporeality, relationality, spatiality, and temporality) described as structures that pervade the lifeworld of all human beings, regardless of their historical, cultural, or social situatedness (Hyde, 2016). Drawing on a critical and reflective triangulation of all the data collected and subsequently analysed, I explored features of a new and inclusive understanding of faith-based spiritual experiences which is relational, gives purpose to the child’s voice and identity as well as the sacred. The implications, in terms of policy, professional and practice within Early Years, draws on everyday spirituality and the wider workforce to recognise the spirituality in everyday routines and practices. To conclude, the opportunity to represent the real ‘voice’ of Sikh children regarding their spirituality, both verbal and non-verbal, is a priority for the community to support the improvement of Early Years practice.
Bone, J., Cullen, J. and Loveridge, J. (2007) Everyday Spirituality: An Aspect of the Holistic Curriculum in Action. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood. 8 (4), p.344-354.
Lunn, A. (2015) A Critical Analysis of the Role of Spirituality within the Early Years Curriculum. Transformations (British Education Studies Association) 1(1) pp. 27-41.
Van Manen, M. (1990) Researching Lived Experience: Human science for action sensitive pedagogy. Ontario, Canada: The Althouse Press.
van der Merwe L. and Habron J. (2015) A Conceptual Model of Spirituality in Music Education. Journal of Research in Music Education. 63 (1), pp. 47-69.
Watson, J. (2006) Every Child Matters and Children’s Spiritual Rights: Does the new holistic approach to children’s care address children’s spiritual well-being? International Journal of Children’s Spirituality. 11 (2), pp. 251-263.
Promoting Praxis in Nurse Education
Catherine Best Saint Catherine’s Hospice, Scarborough
Evident throughout the pandemic has been the growing impact of the inequalities that exist. With the burden of related illness and death being borne unequally (Stafford and Deeny, 2020). The final toll is yet to be determined. Nurse educationalists throughout recent decades, have sought to empower nurses to consider how, through their behaviours, they can challenge these inequalities, the effect of which threatens the very fabric of society. And yet, these inequalities are increasing, the gap widening. The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to demonstrate how, through praxis, nurse educationalists can empower nurses, not only to critically analyse the impact of inequality, but also act to eliminate this most heinous of crimes against society.
Within nurse education, nurses are taught and equally encouraged to determine the impact of government policies on professional practice, and to do this using reflective models and portfolios, creating structure to often challenging, confusing and painful experiences. By adopting a praxiological approach to reflection, nurses can take this one step further and recognise their role in taking positive action to eliminate inequalities, the importance of critical dialogue being fundamental to this. Praxis, however, is not simply action based on reflection; but also ‘embodies certain qualities’ including ‘a commitment to human well-being, the search for truth, and respect for others’ (Smith, 2011). Therefore, in order to achieve praxis, the nursing profession must step away from the insistence of a still heavily-focused emphasis on ‘banking’, an educational approach which, argues Rose (2017), has the ability to limit critical thinking, and advance towards one which, empowers nurses to become heutagogical or self-determined learners. A process which, argues Hase (2014), encourages learners to have agency with respect to how, what and when they learn. Furthermore, as nurses begin to see collaboration as central to acting, they are afforded the opportunity to change the way they think about professional experiences and ultimately to decide upon what they want to achieve. This collaboration is undeniably a cornerstone of praxis.
Hase, S. (2014) Heutagogy and Systems Thinking: A perfect marriage for conducting learning experiences. In Blaschke, L.M. Kenyon, C and Hase S. (Eds.) Experiences in Self-determined Learning. Online. Available at: https://uol.de/fileadmin/user_upload/coer/Experiences-in-self-determined-learning.pdf [Accessed 16 January 2021].
Rose, M. (2017) The Idea of the ‘Banking Concept in Education’. Online. Available at: https://ourpolitics.net/the-idea-of-the-banking-concept-in-education/ [Accessed 16 January 2021].
Smith, M.K. (2011) What is praxis?. Online. Available at: https://infed.org/mobi/what-is-praxis/ [Accessed 16 January 2021].
Stafford, M. and Deeny, S. (2020) Inequalities and Deaths involving COVID-19. What the links between inequalities tell us. Online. Available at: https://www.health.org.uk/news-and-comment/blogs/inequalities-and-deaths-involving-covid-19 [Accessed 15 January 2021].