The FEED Summit
In the fall I attended the one day Faculty Engagement in Educational Development (FEED) summit. The symposium was organized around a short video by Christopher Knapper, a well known person in the Canadian educational development community, and panelist responses to his video. Panelists represented diverse perspectives: faculty, educational developer, librarian, faculty and librarian union representative, senior administration, and UK educational development. Small table groups discussed perspectives in response to trigger presentations – and these discussions, in combination with my own educational development history, left me with some thoughts.
Points to Ponder
1. We in Educational Development (ED) have done a lot of great stuff over a very few years (in terms of culture shifts, it’s pretty amazing work.)
2. We have an EXTREMELY limited body of literature in Canada specifically to draw on about that work – and we’re not getting international literature into the conversations as often as we should (either we do the second or get busy on the first; I’d go with making our own good work more public – do I see an EDC journal in our future?). Lee Shulman (2005) and others’ comments about disciplinary pedagogy aside (and based on his talk at ISSOTL he’s shifting some thoughts on that), I agree with Weimer (2008) about the real challenges in publishing only in disciplinary journals – we don’t get enough traction for the messages.
3. Given the questions seem not to have changed much in the 25+ years I’ve been in the business, I suspect they may not be the right questions. Maybe it’s not about engaging more faculty. I suspect a question we haven’t figured out how to ask is: What do we do with the very few bad faculty (and I pose this in my current roles as a faculty member) who really are not doing the job for which they were hired? This will NOT be a popular question to pose.
4. What’s the productive middle ground that lies somewhere between tooting the horn on our successes (that sometimes sound like we’re avoiding critique) and bemoaning how bad things are. I’d like to see powerful (in all its good senses) critique of our work that helps move us forward.
5. Build on what others are doing: See stuff coming out of Ireland – National Academy for the Integration of Research and Teaching and Learning (NAIRTL). Read the International Journal for Academic Development (IJAD) often. Read the Professional and Organizational Development Network’s (POD) journal. Read the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of teaching and Learning (CJ-SoTL) and Teaching and Learning Inquiry (TLI) – yes, these last two are journals for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning – and we in ED need to know what is coming from that field. Think about ways of starting a separate conversation from what’s in the papers about the challenges in higher education …. and what medium might be best for that.
My biggest concern for the future of ED: that our push towards department based work will phase us out as centres. Centres will continue as long as they continue to be one of the few transdisciplinary spaces on campus – a place where diverse disciplinary perspectives can meet to discuss issues that truly are shared across these traditional boundaries. While I believe in situated cognition (Baxter Magolda, 1999), and that there may be times a department-specific workshop is important, educational development came into being to create shared spaces, or ‘trading zones,’ as Galison (1997) called them; permitting ourselves to be pulled into the past of situating this work in departments deprives faculty, in my opinion, of the very thing we set out to do: create spaces where teaching rather than the content of the discipline would be the central focus.
Baxter-Magolda, M. (1999). Creating contexts for learning and self-authorship. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.
Galison, P. (1997). Image & logic: A material culture of microphysics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Shulman, L. S. (2005). Signature pedagogies in the professions. Daedalus, 134(3), 52-59.
Simmons, N. (2008). Navigating institutional SoTL cultures: Faculty developers as conversation catalysts. Presentation at the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSoTL) annual conference, Edmonton, October.
Weimer, M. (2008). Positioning scholarly work on teaching and learning. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 2(1).