Research Seminar on equality and diversity, vocabulary and career

iCeGS, Nottingham Trent University, Division of Guidance, Youth Studies & Youth Justice and Warwick University would like to invite you to attend a free research seminar on 7 February 2012 (3.00-5.00pm) at the University of Derby Kedleston Road site in room S110. The seminar will feature presentations from:

  • Jo Hutchinson (iCeGS) will be presenting material from her research into equality and diversity in careers work .
  • Nicki Moore (iCeGS) will be presenting some of the findings of her research in vocabulary and the language of careers work.

For further information and to book to attend visit the iCeGS website.  

Social Media Policy for Schools

I’ve written in the past about some of the difficulties that schools experience when they are using social media. However, I was wondering whether any schools have successfully created a social media policy that sets out how they use social media to support teaching and learning and student development.

If anyone can provide me with a link to a policy that they’ve created already that would be really useful.

Social Media Intern

University of Derby students might be interested to hear that the Career Development Centre is offering a social media programme to help students to enhance their careers.

More details are available at http://www.derby.ac.uk/careers/social-media-internship

Others might be interested in this as an an example of how we can work to enhance digital career literacy. iCeGS will be evaluating the programme and will hopefully publish something off of the back of it.

 

The Distinctiveness of the EdD in Producing and Transforming Knowledge

I’ve been asked to facilitate a discussion of our new EdD cohort on the subject of The Distinctiveness of the EdD in Producing and Transforming Knowledge by Alison Taysum (see http://www.citeulike.org/user/pigironjoe/article/9891108). So these are essentially the notes that I took on the article while I was reading it.

In essence the paper is asking what, if anything is distinctive about an EdD, from another kind of qualification (presumably largely the PhD).  However, it goes about answering this question in a fairly roundabout fashion.

So what did I learn from this paper

  • That the EdD is newer than I thought and actually only has a history going back to 1992.
  • That in 2007 when the article was written almost 40 UK universities were delivering EdD’s. 
  • The underpinning philosophy of the EdD is contested.

Taysum is interested in the following three main questions

  1. How do issues of social justice connect with the development of HE? 
  2. How do issues of social justice connect with the development of the EdD within HE? 
  3. Finally, what new insights and theories can be developed about the distinctiveness of the EdD in the university tradition?

To my mind this is a slightly odd place to start if we are thinking about the distinctiveness of the EdD. Which is not to say that I don’t believe that education shouldn’t be bound up with a drive for social justice. However it seems unlikely that it is possible to conclude that the EdD has a fundamentally different relationship with social justice than other qualifications.

Taysum goes on to trace the history of higher education. Noting that it has its roots in training an elite essentially to help them to maintain their hegemony. She does this with reference to Bordieu’s theory that there are four forms of capital (economic capital, cultural capital, social capital and symbolic capital). She argues that the widening of access to higher education enabled a widening of participation in the ruling class. I’m not sure I buy into this, it seems to me far more likely that it was the other way round. If I’m right this would mean that higher education remained as a privileged tool for the maintenance of (an admittedly expanded) ruling class hegemony, rather than being a tool through which emancipation was achieved.

Taysum then seeks to examine how the phenomenon of the EdD fits into this narrative around HE and capital. She positions the EdD as the manifestation of Praxis (the fusion between theory and practice) suggesting that it is this that makes it distinctive. However, she notes that not all EdD’s hold to this ideal of Praxis, with some seeing what they offer as research informed practice. This is a fine line, but one that I do agree with. It seems to me that knowledge that is created by doctoral students should be fundamentally involved with questions like “what is education”, “what is knowledge” and “is education actually valuable”, “could we do all of this very differently”. These questions are essentially the questions of theory and it seems to me that doctoral level study should take them on. If we end up with EdD’s churning out projects like “Blackboard or Whiteboard: An evidence based assessment of classroom visual aids” I think that we are probably missing the point.

However, my sense of what constitutes good doctoral level research may not be the same as other peoples. Taysum has a strong sense that doctoral level work should be involved in the transformation of educational practice but also in the transformation of society. This is the concept of Praxis that she advances.

She ultimately argues that the unique contribution of the EdD is in its ability to shift the identity of practitioners into that of critical theorists or critical practitioners. In other words it is not about people knowing more, but rather about them thinking differently. Why this is a distinctive role for the EdD I’m not sure as I hope (maybe foolishly) that this remains as a distinctive role for all university based education and even perhaps for all education.

The story (and underpinning research) of my New Year???s Resolution

It has taken me a while but I thought I had better get back to blogging after the Christmas period. I’m currently involved in a personal experiment called a diet which is proving extremely interesting. Whereas before Christmas I was the sort of person who would fill his face with whatever was available, who would sneak out to the kitchen and eat lumps of cheese, the sort of person who would liven up any dull moments with a Marathon (AKA a Snickers – not the long race thing), I am now a completely different type of person. I live on diet coke, grass and WeightWatchers’ packet meals. I spend all of my time thinking about food and denying myself. I look constantly for food substitutes that can momentarily kill my cravings. In other words I seem to have managed to turn this very normal activity of trying to moderate my excesses into a completely mentally unhealthy game. Score one for me!

Obviously, being on a diet is something that most people do all of the time. In particular most women I’ve met spend pretty much all of their time on a diet, about to start a diet or falling off of the wagon. The opportunity to consume surrounds us all and so the decision to go on a diet is essentially an impossible one to stick to. What is more it also requires us to shift our personality from one conception of ourselves to another. I am not just someone who likes eating, I’m also someone who likes to like eating. There is a part of my personality that enjoys excess and feels that any kind of personal editing of desire is giving in to “the man”. The anthem when I first went to university was Primal Scream’s Loaded and while I may not have really embraced the lifestyle, I was sympathetic with the idea that I should be able to do whatever I want to do.

However, once you leave university life isn’t generally about doing what you want to do all of the time, it is more usually about doing what you have to do. But, when you buy a chocolate bar or get a kebab then you are saying hell to the consequences and just living in the moment. That is a seductive state for someone like me who lives most of the time in the nexis of work and family commitments. Diets are clearly difficult.

However, lots of the messages that career development practitioners push are similarly difficult for people to pick up on and implement. “You should plan more”, “you should aspire more”, “you should be more organised”, “you should put yourself forwards more”, “take more chances”, “you need to network” and so on and so forth. They all key into our conceptions of who we are and ask us to engage in sustained behaviour change. The university student who does very little work, can’t think of any jobs he would like to do and has no interests or hobbies is unlikely to get a job unless he can either transform himself or counterfeit a different self for the length of a recruitment process. Careers practitioners aim to help with the transformation but are often involved in the counterfeiting by coaching people through recruitment processes.

Career counselling, career education and their tools such as LMI and self-examination tools (e.g. MBTI) are designed to help people to transform themselves and to become something different from what they are. Whether the different is described in the terms of “being the person you’ve always wanted to be” or whether it is described in terms of “the habits of successful people”. However the question is really do people change and if so what makes them change.
Let’s look back at the diet example. What does the research say about diets? What is it that makes a dieter successful or not? Obviously this isn’t my field and you should be very careful about believing my summary of the research – but what it seems to say is that dieting and weight loss programmes aren’t very effective. While there are lots of techniques that can get people to lose weight, very few seem to work over the long term. In other words behaviour change is jolly difficult – have a look at my diet tag on CiteULike to see what I read and make your own mind up http://www.citeulike.org/user/pigironjoe/tag/diet.

OK, so it doesn’t look good for me over the long run. But, hold on a minute, I made a New Years Resolution – surely that must make it more likely to succeed. However the little bit of research that I can find on New Year’s Resolutions is confusing (see http://www.citeulike.org/user/pigironjoe/tag/new_years_resolutions). Broadly it seems to say that they don’t necessarily work, but if they are combined with some active and conscious behaviour change tools , they can be more effective. I think that this means that if someone just wishes themself different they aren’t going to get very far, but if they actively change the way they behave they might be able to. For me this means dieting in tandem with my partner, no longer centring our lives around food and not going to the pub any more. I think I’m going to cry.

The point of all this is that behaviour change is difficult. Even with good will (a New Year’s Resolution) and a mechanism (such as a diet and exercise programme) achieving long term behaviour change is difficult. I don’t see any reason why this should be any different if we start to talk about people’s career management or approach to work. If this is right then someone should be doing some research about career behaviours and looking at ways to influence these. Can anyone direct me to any of this work.

Anyway, Ryvita don’t just eat themselves, I’ve got to get back to engaging in what I now is likely to be an ultimately futile struggle with my own personality. Yay!