Well, the holidays and conference season is firmly over, and it really is time I got back into the Ed D. So what I plan to do is to review where I am so far. The trouble is working out where to start. Probably as good as idea as any is to re-read the defence document, so let’s start there and make a list of the issues I discuss
1) Some doubt about what constitutes knowledge in HE. Distinction between propositional and performative knowledge. Importance of developing critical thinking skills
2) Then there’s a list based on Gosling’s work, of what it is that EDUs are actually doing.
- Activities that work towards the improvement of, or innovation in practices related to university teaching
- Research into the nature of these activities
- Involvement in attempts to influence policy with regard to teaching.
- Areas outside the EDU’s immediate remit – teaching spaces, QA activities (for example the work we’ve done with regard to the NSS – but could that be part of 3 above)
- Providing support to non-teaching colleagues
I also wondered about the extent to which EDUs were directly involved with students – in fact, I think they’re mostly concerned with staff
Some thoughts about the location of the EDU within the organisation – they aren’t usually public facing and this may mean that they can take a fairly informal flexible approach to their work, but also that they can be forgotten about, and are an easy target for cuts.
Then I reviewed the issues facing EDUs
- Difficulty of engaging with the “tribes” (and danger of becoming a “tribe” themselves)
- Vulnerability due to external funding
- Need to respond to external agenda (demands of “politics”, “business” and other stakeholders who see the University as having a very instrumental role)
- Need to respond to a pedagogical agenda. Imposition of particular practices – notably PDP and challenge of getting others to embed these into the curriculum. Also difficulty of pinning down “University teaching” in a time when new courses and disciplines proliferate, there is a growth in delivery methods, rapid development of new technological tools (perhaps I should add “technological practices” here, by which I mean things like web 2.0, which some argue are leading to new ways of students engaging with learning.)
- Growth of other new ideas not necessarily related to technology. e.g. those around PBL and peer assisted learning.
I then reviewed these themes in the light of the literature – something I very much need to develop for the next chapter of the thesis. But all this leads to my main research question which is “To what extent are the actvities of educational development units driven by pressure to meet corporate and managerial goals, and to what extent are they responses to developments in pedagogical theory.” Actually, though this needs quite a bit of unpicking. Firstly the “to what extent” bit will need to be re-phrased. It implies that this is something that can be measured using quantitative techniques, which is only true if I could devise a set of variables that can actually be measured. Secondly, I think I have to make a convincing case that “corporate and managerial goals” and “developments in pedagogical theory” don’t always coincide. If they did, then there wouldn’t be a problem. (But I think I might also have to acknowledge that they sometimes do coincide!)
Perhaps I should now go back and have a look at what I’ve written so far in terms of draft chapters – Important because the research question must drive the methodological approach I take.,