I met with Ray only as Nicola was on leave.
Positionality – I need to include a discussion about this in my write up. Who I am in relation to my research participants and the impact this has (positive and negative) on the data and the method). There is a sensitivity about my position as I could be regarded as representing a competitor (Universities compete for students) and I’m gathering competitively sensitive data. I am a Researcher and an Educator – and a business founder (in the past). I need to acknowledge that I am moving between these different ways of seeing.
The purpose of Higher Education – Ray’s view is that it is to enable people to make informed evaluative judgements as a basis for effective decision making.
Are Threshold Concepts what I’m looking for – perhaps better termed “Learning Thresholds” in this context – the conceptual bit is difficult in this context. Learning Thresholds are more dispositional. I’m using Thresholds as an analytical tool for sense making.
Ray referred me to Michael Eraut – an the ideal of professional knowledge, declarative knowledge and procedural knowledge. Also Perkin’s dispositions might be useful here.
Ray also mentioned the work of R. Barnett – the concept of open ontologies (vs fixed ontologies). “Learning for an unknown future” 2004.
Threshold Concepts and their relation to competencies and learning outcomes.
Praxis – Freire, P. Critical Pedagogy “Pedagogy for the Oppressed” – combining practice and knowledge and values.
Competencies are narrower and usually defined according to a well established knowledge base. They originated as part of the National Vocational Qualifications as a measure of achievement. Criticised for being a tick list and too reductionist.
Higher Education resisted competencies and agreed to Learning Outcomes, and the idea of constructive alignment, acknowledging that they needed to play the accountability game. Threshold Concepts do not sit comfortably with learning outcomes – as LO’s imply a nice neat linear progression.
Universities are saying they are preparing students for an unknown future but how can they if they are reliant on learning outcomes, which by definition are predefined? Espoused theory versus theory in use.
Eisner’s expressive objectives might also be useful here. Useful in complex situations where outcomes are difficult to predict. All you can do is design the encounters that you want your students to have. The curriculum is a set of encounters.
Ray also mentioned Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and the concept of Flow. Perhaps artists are in a state of Flow rather than liminality? (When they say that they are not intended to cross a threshold, because liminality is where they are creative).
Also Shulman – pedagogies of uncertainty, how might this apply to EE programmes?
Perhaps for the student phase of data collection I could ask what it’s like to be a student on one of these EE programmes in the current climate? Paradox of quality models, QAA frameworks, various league tables and quality criteria in the context of an uncertain future. DO they see the point of it all? What does it feel like? Are they venturing into strange places? Do they want to?
Reminded me of “bounded instability” and the Organisational Design mind bending development programme I went on at P&G.