Focusing the SoTL Research Area

My next step in SoTL is to focus in on a Research area. I have decided to focus on an area of tutor training, specifically, the technique I share called Simulated Instruction Model. This turned out to be incorrect, the actual name is Strategic Instruction Model.

Because I am focusing this project on tutors, I want to evaluate the impact of changing my approach to teaching this model to see if tutors will be more likely to use the model with students. Therefore, using the UBC SoTL Explorer, I have chosen to frame my project as follows:

  • Practice: Short Active Learning
  • Impact: Attitude and Motivation
  • Evaluation: Survey

To be clear, I am not studying whether the model leads to better outcomes for students. My focus is on whether making changes to presentation of the model to tutors will lead to better adoption rates by tutors as an alternative practice to direct instruction and explaining. Both direct instruction and explaining put students in a very passive role and appears to be the fall back position of tutors who relate these techniques to the teaching practices they often see in the classroom. One of my underlying themes in tutor training is that tutoring is fundamental different from teaching and that tutoring does not take the place of in class participation or use of professor’s office hours.

The model I use does not quite match the SIM model for learning strategies so I am considering using Model-Coach-Fade which seems to be connected to the Flipped Classroom concept. This will mean that the technique does match activities in a flipped classroom and the actions of a flipped professor but will move tutors away from the traditional lecture model that they are familiar with.

I have collected a few resources for Model-Coach-Fade:

Cognitive apprenticeship. (2018, April 4). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Cognitive_apprenticeship&oldid=834109143

Dixie. (2009) Cognitive apprenticeship(Collins, Brown, Newman). Retrieved from https://dixieching.wordpress.com/2009/10/18/cognitive-apprenticeship-collins-brown-newman/

Honeycutt, B. (2014) Flip it with the “model, coach, fade” strategy: Changing roles in the flipped classroom. Retrieved from http://barbihoneycutt.com/model-coach-fade-flipped-strategy/

Marin, R. (n.d.). Modeling, coaching, and scaffolding. In Encyclopedia of Educational Technology.  Retrieved  from http://www.etc.edu.cn/www/eet/eet/articles/learnstrategy/

 

Featured Image: Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

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Connecting some SoTL dots

As I continue with the Scholar Module, I need to set a foundation for my SoTL research question. I want to focus on my work with Tutors in the college setting. When I became a Retention Coordinator, about 10 years ago, and took on the role of Faculty Advisor to Tutoring Services along with my partner, Marko Jovanovic, I thought about a “vision” for tutoring and what we could offer our “stakeholders.” Very businessy of me, but you draw from what you know.

We developed a Purpose Statement. Not a mission statement, because the college already has one, but a statement that would describe how Tutoring Services could fit into and advance the college’s overall mission. This is what we came up with:

The purpose of Tutoring Services is to develop and maintain a credible and responsive system that:

  • Gives students access to academic support in course specific material and core skills through individual and group tutoring, workshops and resources that support success and independence in learning;
  • Encourages tutors to develop their tutoring practice and job skills through training, guidance, resource and support services while respecting their personal academic goals;
  • Provides accurate, timely data and information to administration, the Student Services sector, and the Academic sector regarding student needs as well as individual and institutional barriers that impact academic success. (St. Clair College, 2017)

I talk about the purpose at every training session and every meeting. I tell tutors that the most important aspect of what we provide for students is the opportunity to become more independent in their learning – so that they don’t need us anymore. I toss out maxims like “work your way out of a job with your student” and “never do something for your student that they can do for themselves.”

In tutor training, I present different techniques tutors can use when working with students that includes direct instruction and explaining, the two techniques that new tutors often start with and fall back on, but explain that these tools should be used sparingly. I move on to other techniques such as modeling and anchoring.

Math text open to part of a math problem
Photo by Deepak Gautam on Pexel
 

It is the modelling technique that I am interested in exploring with SoTL. The modelling approach I use is based on SIM technique I learned as part of the Learning Disabilities Specialist program at Cambrian College. (Thank you Jessica O’Reilly from Cambrian for helping me find the document). Basically, it works like this for Math problems:

  1. Choose a problem that is similar to the homework problem the student is struggling with. Solve that problem and talk out every step you take, every thought you have as you work. The idea is to make your thinking real for the student so that they can see and hear your process.
  2. Have the student tackle the same problem on a fresh page. Ask the student to talk out their steps and their thinking. Listen for mis-steps and misunderstandings. If the student is missing information or steps, review that with the student and point out where they can find that information in their notes or text (or online).
  3. When the student is successful with the first problem, ask them to try a new similar problem on their own and with out your help or prompting. Repeat process until student is successful in solving those types of problems.

This technique works well, but in the past couple of months, I am seeing tutors fall back on direct instruction and explaining without giving the student an opportunity to try the problem, confirming their understanding. My thought is to first research if there is a better but similar model to this and then determine an active learning process to teaching tutors this technique to see if we can get better uptake.

References

St. Clair College. (2017). Tutor manual 2017/18. Windsor, Ontario: Author.

Featured Image: Photo by Rafael Lodos on Unsplash

 

Amateur Work in SoTL

Hmmmm…. so what is the Amateur work in SoTL. A quick search on my favorite engine brought up a few perspectives:

Peter Felten (2013), in Principles of Good Practice in SoTL, describes an “amateur culture [that]  of­ten makes US SoTL more of a methodological and theoretical mutt than its cousins from other countries” (p. 121).

Michael Potter and Brad Wuetherick (2015) concluded in Who is Represented in the Teaching Commons?: SoTL Through the Lenses of the Arts and Humanities that  “as a result of social science dominance in SoTL, many humanist faculty members and educational developers find that they are either excluded from participating or forced to adopt a different identity … to be considered “legitimate” SoTL scholars” (p. 2)

Okay, so amateur work is this idea that folks do participate in SoTL activities from different disciplines and others may think they are not doing it right. I can live with that. I am reminded of Douglas Hubbard’s How to Measure Anything. I read this for personal professional development a few years ago and plan to review it again in the July/August period. There are a few ideas from Hubbard’s work that stick with me:

  1. You can measure anything, even things you thought could not be measured.
  2. Making decisions with some data is better than relying on gut instinct or expert opinions.
  3. When you know nothing, anything you find out will lead to a better decision.
  4. Use a model and a plan.

One of the stories he uses to illustrate this is of Emily Rosa, a nine year old girl who designed an experiment to measure the validity of therapeutic touch. She was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Am I intimidated by OntarioExtend’s Scholar Module? Yes. Am I going to keep doing it? Yes. Because after reviewing SoTL the value statements, I am going to focus on:

  • Faculty development opportunities.
  • Renewed faculty excitement about teaching and greater self-awareness.

So what if I am an amateur. So was everyone else the first time they tried SoTL. Even if folks were able to generalize their skills from other research or they current disciplines, there was still their first time. Like a child coloring a picture, I am not going to worry about going outside the lines. I will aim for joy in the process and something I can hang on my fridge!

Featured Image: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Scholar Module: A Beginning

OntarioExtend’s Scholar Module begins with a review of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL). So what is SoTL?

Here are a few definitions:

  • Randy Bass, in the video Key Characteristics of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, describes SoTL as “faculty undertaking systematic inquiry of learning in his or her own classroom” (0:07).
  • Boyer (1990) defined SoTL as “is an emerging movement of scholarly thought and action that draws on the reciprocal relationship between teaching and learning at the post-secondary level” (as cited in What is SoTL?, n.d., para. 1).
  • According to the Journal of Financial Education (2016), “The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) considers teaching as a scholarly endeavor that is worthy of research designed to produce a body of knowledge open to critique and evaluation. SoTL uses reflection, discovery, analysis, and evidence-based procedures to research effective teaching, with the ultimate goal of improving student learning outcomes.” (para. 1).

What is my personal take? I think SoTL is the process of trying out something new in your practice to help students, checking to see if it worked, modifying and trying again if it didn’t, and sharing with others if it did. Rinse, repeat. Is there is terribly simplified take on SoTL? Darn right, skippy, because otherwise I am going to be too chicken to try it. It seems awfully intimidating a thing to try and now I am afraid of amateur work as noted by Nancy Chick (approx. 8:38 minutes) in the Key Characteristics of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning video. I don’t know what amateur work is but now I am freaked out that anything I try would be considered that and that sounds bad. I am going to research that next and I will be sure the put it in italics whenever I mention it. 

The first exercise asks for three SoTL Characteristics the resonate with me. That part was easy so let’s get that out-of-the-way:

  1. Inquiry – I already have a lot of questions, some of them interesting, some are why and most are what if.
  2. Closing the loop – If I do this in the class, this will happen. Did It? Let’s check, modify and do it again.
  3. Being public about the findings – seem to fit with an Open Educator persona.

There, I have a beginning!

Featured image(I call it “Time to get science-y”): Photo by Nicolas Thomas on Unsplash

Two Years of Farming and International Students

Recently, there have been concerns expressed about cheating on tests and International Students. This has been rattling around in my brain for the past couple days. That rattling around and Father’s Day came together for me. What if, for some International Students, this is their two years of farming??

Confused? Let me explain. My parents emigrated from the Netherlands in 1952 along with my two older brothers (they had many girl babies in Canada but that is another story). They went through a pretty strenuous vetting process, three months of ESL classes and had to find a sponsor. The deal was that they would work for this sponsor, a farmer, for two years.

Appelscha Dunes, Netherlands – June 1942. My father, Kees Feyen, is in the back row with his arms on the shoulders of two others. He is 22 years old here, about the age of many of our International Students.

In 1952, my dad was 32 years old and had been farming for at least 25 years (yes, he started young on the farm, don’t all children of farmers?). While my parents were grateful for the sponsorship, my dad was frustrated with this farmer. There wasn’t much, if anything, this farmer could teach him. My dad was already a better farmer. He could care for and handle the horses better, plow straighter and faster, build or repair what was needed. When the two years were up, my parents moved to North Buxton and worked for the Prince family for better pay and better living arrangements.

Those two years of farming were the price my parents had to pay both to the farmer and to the government of Canada for the opportunity to become Canadian citizens and, after the two years were up, for the opportunity to make choices about where to live and where to work and who to work for.

So what does this have to do with International Students? Well, for many of our International Students, a two-year diploma means the opportunity for a two year work visa in Canada. This is their opportunity to find work and, hopefully, begin their process towards emigration. Many of our International Students already have degrees, sometimes in the very fields of study they are enrolled at in our colleges and sometimes in other fields, even more than one field. I have met doctors in the nursing program, dentists in the dental assisting program,  engineers in the civil engineer technician program, and previous business owners and accountants in the business program.

Like my dad, there isn’t much, if anything we can teach them, at least not in the same way as domestic students right out of highschool. Many of our programs are set up for helping domestic students learn skills they don’t already have and build a body of knowledge that they can take into their first career. I am suggesting that this may be different for International Students where the body of knowledge they need to learn is customs of Canada and to hone their communication skills, in some cases. By customs, I don’t mean learning to drink lots of Tim Horton’s coffee. I mean to learn the practices, procedures, policies and legalities of their profession within Canadian society. For communication skills, I mean honing speaking and listening skills, as many International students already have strong reading and writing skills, as well as honing social conventions common in Canada. Have we considered this in our programs and courses? Are we giving International students opportunities to learn what they need?

We talk a lot about how a diverse population of students is also good for domestic students for a wide variety of reasons including helping our domestic student be better prepared for a global economy but are we giving our domestic students real opportunities for this learning in our classrooms outside of seating them beside an International student?

I want to be clear about one aspect before I conclude my musings. I am not suggesting that International students much give up their heritage. My parents didn’t. My parents were part of a wave of immigration from the Netherlands after WWII that found a place in Canadian society. They started their own churches, build their own schools including colleges and universities, founded their own companies – they even started a union and a political party. This may have been part of the reason my parents choose Canada over America.

I don’t have any answers yet. I am still at the rattling around in my brain stage. I am not even sure I have the right questions yet. But I do know that the issue of cheating is a complex issue and that we need to do something different that what we are doing. I believe that adding more security and proctors for tests is not the silver bullet solution. Finding the answer will require consideration of International student needs and perspectives. One resources that I found helpful, in spite of the heavy US content, is Recognizing Cultural Variation in the Classroom from Carnegie Mellon. If you have a good resource, I hope you will share it with me.

Happy Father’s Day in heaven, Dad. Thanks for immigrating to Canada so that I could be here today pondering this.

My dad loved plowing with a horse team. Featured image: Photo by Randy Fath on Unsplash

Making Sense of Open Education, Final Reflection

Today is the last day of the Making Sense of Open Education Mini-MOOC hosted by Jenni Hayman. It has been a 15 day whirlwind tour of Openness! I wanted to go back to the beginning and review the Course Outcomes and see where I stand in relationship.

Course learning outcomes:
On completion of this open course participants will have expanded their ability to:

  1. Describe the value of open educational practices (OEP) in their teaching and learning contexts
  2. Give examples of appropriate open educational resources (OER) for their practice
  3. Describe user permissions related to each of the Creative Commons license types
  4. Find and curate high quality OER for a course or small project
  5. Connect with other practitioners interested in exploring use of open educational resources and practices in their teaching

These were not numbered in the course, I added numbers to make giving my response easier.

My response:

One: Open educational practices add value to my teaching by allowing me the opportunity to tailor my teaching to the students in front of me now by broadening my awareness of OER sources that can better meet their needs in terms of accessibility and affordability. Beyond the choice of materials, OEP also leads me to consider how students can co-create materials and be curators of learning materials and how participating in this is a better assessment tool and holds more long-term value for student than disposable assignments. Digital Tools give me and my students the opportunity to be creators and give us the opportunity to share what we are learning with others. Because I see value in OEP, I am inspired to take action and advocate for greater openness in others and in my own institution.

Two: Can I give examples of appropriate OER for my practice? Why, yes, I can. I posted a prototype of a unit I am building for my students. It includes chapters from a OER textbook, open source images, and a CC video.

Three: Can I describe user permissions? Yup, let me do so with a Creative Commons licensed image:

Graphic showing various Creative Commons Licences.

Creative Commons licenses by Foter (CC-BY-SA)

Four: Can I curate OER resources for a small project? I did! I collected OER resources on Reflection into a padlet in a recent post.

Five: Have I connected with other practitioners of Open Education? Sure did and will continue to do so. I outlined my growing PLN in a post exploring what my connections look like. I also create a post outlining how I began to use twitter as a tool for connecting.

The Making Sense of Open Education has been a tremendously positive learning experience for me and I encourage you, my reader, to check it out soon as it will be set up as a self directed learning opportunity on Open University soon.

Featured Image photo by santiagotorrescl95 on Pixabay

OER Remix Prototype – Academic Integrity

This is a prototype for a unit on Academic Integrity I am creating for my students and in response to both the Technologist Module for Ontario Extend and Day 12 of Making Sense of Open Education.

Here is my plan.

  • I want to adapt two excerpts from an OER textbook.
  • Add original video of my own.
  • Use CC licensed video and images from Unsplash.
  • Link to additional resources
  • Add self-test questions that I create.

Opening

Academic Integrity – The Honest Truth

View of lecture room with students listening.
Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

It is vital that students focus on the active process of learning, not just on how to get good grades. The attitude of some students that grades are the end-all in academics has led many students to resort to academic dishonesty to try to get the best possible grades or handle the pressure of an academic program. Although you may be further tempted if you’ve heard people say, “Everybody does it,” or “It’s no big deal at my school,” you should be mindful of the consequences of cheating:

  • You don’t learn as much. Cheating may get you the right answer on a particular exam question, but it won’t teach you how to apply knowledge in the world after school, nor will it give you a foundation of knowledge for learning more advanced material. When you cheat, you cheat yourself out of opportunities.
  • You risk failing the course or even expulsion from school. Each institution has its own definitions of and penalties for academic dishonesty, but most include cheating, plagiarism, and fabrication or falsification. The exact details of what is allowed or not allowed vary somewhat among different colleges and even instructors, so you should be sure to check your school’s Web site and your instructor’s guidelines to see what rules apply. Ignorance of the rules is seldom considered a valid defense.
  • Cheating causes stress. Fear of getting caught will cause you stress and anxiety; this will get in the way of performing well with the information you do know.
    You’re throwing away your money and time. Getting a college education is a big investment of money and effort. You’re simply not getting your full value when you cheat, because you don’t learn as much.
  • You are trashing your integrity. Cheating once and getting away with it makes it easier to cheat again, and the more you cheat, the more comfortable you will feel with giving up your integrity in other areas of life—with perhaps even more serious consequences.
  • Cheating lowers your self-esteem. If you cheat, you are telling yourself that you are simply not smart enough to handle learning. It also robs you of the feeling of satisfaction from genuine success.
Students gathered around a laptop
Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

Technology has made it easier to cheat. Your credit card and an Internet connection can procure a paper for you on just about any subject and length. You can copy and paste for free from various Web sites. Students have made creative use of texting and video on their cell phones to gain unauthorized access to material for exams. But be aware that technology has also created ways for instructors to easily detect these forms of academic dishonesty. Most colleges make these tools available to their instructors. Instructors are also modifying their testing approaches to reduce potential academic misconduct by using methods that are harder to cheat at (such as in-class essays that evaluate your thinking and oral presentations).

If you feel uneasy about doing something in your college work, trust your instincts. Confirm with the instructor that your intended form of research or use of material is acceptable. Cheating just doesn’t pay.

Excerpt adapted from College Success by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


Video – this is a rough cut of my video. I plan to clean it up and add design elements, closed captioning and a transcript.

The Value of Academic Integrity

Video by Irene Stewart, January 10, 2018


Plagiarism—and How to Avoid It

Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of material from a source. At the most obvious level, plagiarism involves using someone else’s words and ideas as if they were your own. There’s not much to say about copying another person’s work: it’s cheating, pure and simple. But plagiarism is not always so simple. Notice that our definition of plagiarism involves “words and ideas.” Let’s break that down a little further.

Woman's hand writing with a number of papers on a desk.
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Words. Copying the words of another is clearly wrong. If you use another’s words, those words must be in quotation marks, and you must tell your reader where those words came from. But it is not enough to make a few surface changes in wording. You can’t just change some words and call the material yours; close, extended paraphrase is not acceptable.

Ideas. Ideas are also a form of intellectual property. You may this idea in a passage that summarizes the original, that is, it states the main idea in compressed form in language that does not come from the original. But it could still be seen as plagiarism if the source is not cited. This example probably makes you wonder if you can write anything without citing a source. To help you sort out what ideas need to be cited and what not, think about these principles:

Common knowledge. There is no need to cite common knowledge. Common knowledge does not mean knowledge everyone has. It means knowledge that everyone can easily access. If the information or idea can be found in multiple sources and the information or idea remains constant from source to source, it can be considered common knowledge. This is one reason so much research is usually done for college writing—the more sources you read, the more easily you can sort out what is common knowledge: if you see an uncited idea in multiple sources, then you can feel secure that idea is common knowledge.

Distinct contributions. One does need to cite ideas that are distinct contributions. A distinct contribution need not be a discovery from the work of one person. It need only be an insight that is not commonly expressed (not found in multiple sources) and not universally agreed upon.

Disputable figures. Always remember that numbers are only as good as the sources they come from. If you use numbers or any statistics always cite your source of those numbers. If your instructor does not know the source you used, you will not get much credit for the information you have collected.

Everything said previously about using sources applies to all forms of sources. Some students mistakenly believe that material from the Web, for example, need not be cited. Or that an idea from an instructor’s lecture is automatically common property. You must evaluate all sources in the same way and cite them as necessary.

Bulletin board with notes and pictures.
Photo by Jo Szczepanska on Unsplash

Forms of Citation

You should generally check with your instructors about their preferred form of citation when you write papers for courses. No one standard is used in all academic papers. You can learn about the three major forms or styles used in most any college writing handbook and on many Web sites for college writers:

  • The Modern Language Association (MLA) system of citation is widely used but is most commonly adopted in humanities courses, particularly literature courses.
  • The American Psychological Association (APA) system of citation is most common in the social sciences.
  • The Chicago Manual of Style is widely used but perhaps most commonly in history courses.

Many college departments have their own style guides, which may be based on one of the above. Your instructor should refer you to his or her preferred guide, but be sure to ask if you have not been given explicit direction.

Excerpt adapted from College Success by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism: Type of Plagiarism

University of Guelph Library, 2014. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


Resources

To learn more, check out the Learning Portal. The Learning Portal shares resources from colleges across Ontario.

Academic Integrity – http://tlp-lpa.ca/research/academic-integrity

How to Cite – http://tlp-lpa.ca/research/citation


Unit would end with self-check or self-test questions to be developed.


 

This is my prototype of materials to remix into a new unit. I am considering combining these into one container although, I am not sure what technology would be best to put this together. I am also not sure if all these resources have creative commons licensing that can be combined. Finally, I am not sure that this would represent a complete picture of Academic Integrity or if I am missing content. If you would like to provide any feedback or suggestions, your ideas would be most welcome.