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The Disciplinary Commons

The Disciplinary Commons

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The Disciplinary Commons

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  1. The Disciplinary Commons Sally Fincher London SoTL 6th Annual International Conference 18th March 2006

  2. State of the Commons • Josh and I co-developed the Commons form and run the projects in parallel. But we have separate funding and somewhat separate purposes. • Started in September (Josh), October (me). • Final meetings are next month, so this is an on-going process. • Consequently this presentation will be very much “what we’re doing”: descriptive rather than evaluative.

  3. To document and share knowledge about student learning on courses in Computer Science in two- and four-year institutions within a single geographic region. • To improve the quality of teaching in Computer Science (CS) by establishing practices for the scholarship of teaching by making it public, peer-reviewed, and amenable for future use and development by other CS educators. • To document and share knowledge about teaching and student learning on introductory programming courses in the UK. • To establish practices for the scholarship of teaching by making it public, peer-reviewed, and amenable for future use and development by other educators: creating a teaching-appropriate document of practice equivalent to the research-appropriate journal paper.

  4. To address the issues of “articulation” between 2 and 4 year colleges All in tight geographic area (no one has more than a 2 hour drive) Rotating venue Share a common pool of students To document and share knowledge about itp in the UK Wide geographic distribution (some 5am starts) All come to London Share course content and (more or less) objectives

  5. Why Course Portfolios? • Well-suited to our purposes. • Widely known as a method for advancing teaching practice and improving student learning (Hutchings, 1998). • Comprises a set of documents that "focuses on the unfolding of a single course, from conception to results" (op cit, p.13). • The purpose of the course portfolio "is in revealing how teaching practice and student performance are connected with each other" (Bernstein, 1998, p77).

  6. Problems with Course Portfolios? • They are produced by individuals, for benchmark or personal development: rarely is there reference to wider context, and they are indivdualistic in form. • Examples are isolated: there’s a nice one in Drawing over here, a couple of: interesting ones in Maths over there but little comparable to my subject or situation. • Creating a Commons archive of similar material, our common pool resource, should give a multiplier effect

  7. The power of form • Well known for research outputs • Allows comparability • Allows for different sorts of research, with different emphases • Content is guaranteed by peer review • The Journal paper is to research as …

  8. The Lab Report The Journal Paper • Title • Hypothesis • Materials • Procedure • Data • Calculations • Results • Conclusions • Title page • Abstract • Introduction • Materials and Methods • Results • Discussion • Literature Cited

  9. … the Portfolio is to teaching ? • Context • Content • Instructional Design • Delivery • Assessment • Evaluation • Allows comparability • Allows for different sorts of practice, with different emphases • Content guaranteed by the nature of the evidence (and how it is structured) and peer review

  10. Disciplinary Commons:Participation and Reification Participation • We meet every month over the course of an academic year (the lifetime of the courses we are focussing on). • We reflect, we share. We observe, we review. • We have the deep and meaty discussions about the minutae of our practice. • We gain an unusual depth of knowledge about practice in other communities. Knowledge normally only otherwise acquired through a process of “charismatic embedding”

  11. Disciplinary Commons:Participation and Reification Reification • We expose details of our work, through documentation, peer review, peer- and self- observation. • We record our otherwise invisible practices—via course portfolios—so it exists without our continuing presence. • By working together, using a common form, individual portfolios are enhanced by being part of the larger archive.

  12. See http://www.cs.kent.ac.uk/~saf/dc http://depts.washington.edu/comgrnd/

  13. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence References Daniel Bernstein, Putting the focus on student learning, in The Course Portfolio, Pat Hutchings (ed.), American Association for Higher Education, 1998. Pat Hutchings (ed.), Making Teaching Community Property: A Menu for Peer Collaboration and Peer Review, American Association for Higher Education, 1996. Pat Hutchings (ed.), The Course Portfolio: How Faculty Can Examine Their Teaching to Advance Practice and Improve Student Learning, American Association for Higher Education, 1998