Crystallizing Student Connections to the Problem Solving Pentagon

For a number of years of I have taught a university-level, general education course with the  aim to have students learn researching skills as part of a learning routine and a strategy used across various assignments in the course.  I found the OPS (https://www.adelaide.edu.au/rsd/framework/simpler/) pentagon delineating research/problem solving skills to the perfect framework to underpin student’s research skills.  The questions became, “How do I introduce the research process, and this framework, to the students”?  I developed an  activity that most undergraduate students could related to – panning a hike (See OPS Hiking WI Exercise).  Throughout the semester I would link assignments back to the framework to indicate what portion(s) of the pentagon that we were using during any one assignment.  This was an acceptable starting point.  However, students never connected assignment activities to the OPS pentagon or  to their larger education or life experience.  The OPS pentagon was discussed in class.  Students could use the terminology but with rare exception I was not convinced students “got it”.

Over the last week I tried something new.  I added a second exercise asking to students to engage with the framework using the Crysatllizing Connections Observation Worksheet In addition to the hiking exercise I broke the students into 6 groups.  I assigned each of the groups one of the OPS facets to examine.  I began by asking each of the groups to brainstorm examples of their assigned facet.  Over the course of the next few days students were instructed to collect examples of their assigned facet when they were sitting in their courses.  After several days students were re-grouped so that there was a person in each group that represented each one of the six facets of the OPS pentagon.  Individually each of the group members completed the chart as they listed to other group members explain what they had observed relative to their assigned facet.

I asked students what insights they had gained over the past few days from relative to this exercise.  So far the results seem promising with insights such as:

  • the categories of the OPS mix together
  • all professors use elements of the OPS
  • I can process the OPS and use it in my other classes
  • helps teachers sort through learning
  • we use the OPS without realizing it

Do any of you have strategies that you have found work in your classrooms?  I would be interested in hearing about them.  Let me know!

Sylvia

RSD Online Community of Practice Begins Today!

University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Online Community of Practice Starts Tuesday, September 11, 2018!

An online CoP facilitated by Sylvia Tiala and Jessy Polzer from University of Wisconsin-Stout begins today at noon Central Time (U. S.).  Our goal is to connect with university educators to investigate and apply the Research Skills Development (RSD) Framework and the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy (FIL) to your learning context.  We will be using websites, Zoom and othe technologies to attend meetings, engage in discussion and submit feedback and materials.  Reflective learning and application will be facilitated though activities, discussion, coaching and a SoTL research project.  Take a look at the website for more information.

You are welcome to join us.  Please feel free to  register  at https://jessypolzer.com/rsd/register/

Please email Jessy Polzer (polzerj@uwstout.edu) or Sylvia Tiala  (tialas@uwstout.edu) with questions.

 

Connecting with your librarian is critical!

I have been reflecting on takeaways from the 2017 I-MELT conference.  Thank you John for a job well done!

At the conference I was able to reflect back on the journey that brought me to the conference.  I recall that John Willison encouraged faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Stout to engage their librarians early in the process of implementing the RSD.  This was a sound piece of advice.  Our librarian, Jessy Polzer, was critical to the success of implementing the RSD at Stout.  During the I-MELT conference I was able to connect with Lyn Torres of Monash University.  I was struck by how similar her comments were to those of my library colleagues at UW-Stout. The RSD has strong ties and overlaps information literacy skills.  Librarians are able to articulate this overlap and to guide instructors as they work to incorporate undergraduate research into the classroom.   I am posting this comment to encourage you to connect with your librarian as you implement the RSD at your institution.  They are an invaluable resource that will help in your efforts to integrate research and critical thinking skills into your courses.

With this being said, I invite you to review an online module Undergraduate Student Research: Creative and Critical Thinking at UW-Stout  that was developed to help faculty learn about undergraduate research at Stout’s campus.  This was a collaborative project made possible through our Nakatani Teaching and Learning Center and members involved in UW-Stout’s RSD Community of Practice.  Please be sure to watch for our librarian, Jessy Polzer, as she speaks to ties between the RSD and information literacy.  Feel free to take a peek at:

http://www2.uwstout.edu/content/lib/tutorial/undergraduateresearch/index.html

What Does Research Look Like?

What does research look like?  Do you know it when you see it?  How is research that you do similar or different than you peers’ research?  You might be able to explain it, but, can you draw it?  That is a question I posed to a class of mine this spring semester.  I asked them, “What does research look like?”.  The students turned in drawings at the beginning of the semester.  I will do the same at the end of the semester and compare drawings.   There are a couple of ideas that intrigue me about this exercise.  First, it really “makes thinking visible”.  This is an idea that John has talked about on numerous occasions.  I am able to better direct my teaching to serve students if I can “see” what they are thinking.  I am also fascinated by my own preoccupation with looking at research as the published article or reading about research.  Yet, for many disciplines research is audio or visual constructions.  Think of the scene designer or the music composer.  If you want to know what their research looks like you may very well find yourself in a theater or opera house.   So, I would like those of you who are so inclined to respond to this post with your own drawing.  What does research look like for you?  I look forward to seeing your responses.   Perhaps we can discuss your ideas when we meet in Adelaide on December 11-13 for the I-MELT Conference (https://www.adelaide.edu.au/rsd/i-melt/).

MELT to Manufacturing

As a university professor I get to work with many different people to develop technical, skill-based and work-related curriculum.  Last week I had the opportunity to collaborate with both education professionals and workforce development professionals at the same meeting.  Tired of waiting for the next grant cycle and the competitive grant process, I identified a need for curriculum development and went directly to economic development representatives with a project proposal.  Fortunately, I went well armed with both the MELT framework and the Work Skill Development (WSD) framework (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/rsd/framework/frameworks/).  All went smoothly.  Everyone was engaged in the activity that introduced the facets of research and the levels of autonomy found in the MELT model.  And then it happened — as it always does.  Before the meeting ended, the conversation turned toward connecting educators with business and industry.  Attendees recognized that educators don’t know how to develop relationships with business/industry and business/industry representatives have a hard time seeing the world through the lens of an educator.  But this time the conversation ended differently.  All participants were able to pull out the WSD framework and start a conversation about how activities in K-12 schools carried over to the workplace.  There was agreement that the WSD framework could be used to facilitate a conversation between educators and business/industry representatives.   It is yet to be determined where these discussions will lead and if the project will be funded.  The fact that all of the participants grabbed extra copies of the MELT and WSD framework as they left the meeting is a hopeful sign of continued interest.
Does anyone else out there have stories to share about their use of the frameworks?  I would be interested in hearing your stories.  work-skill-deve-framework

 

Challenging Assumptions about Content Knowledge

Recently, I started one of my classes  with a simple question, “Should general education courses be required”.  It was a strategy to get my students actively engaged in a discussion about the value and merit of general education courses.  It was my alternative to the traditional introduction to the course which in many general education courses goes something like: 1. Welcome to XXXX  2.  The purpose of the course is XXXX  3.  It is important because XXXX.

The discussion was a success!  Students were actively engaged in the discussion about the merits of general education and were able to argue, at  a very shallow level, about why general education was/was beneficial.  But, I was horrified at one of the very serious justifications from one student.  “No, general education should not be required because everything I need to know I can learn from my cell phone.”

Right then and there I started working to revise many of the assignments in my class.  It wasn’t about revising the course’s content.  It was about revising the course to get my students to actively engage and think about the content.  I was further inspired by the fact that I was in a learning community that was discussing  Brookfield, S. (2012).  Teaching for critical thinking. San Francisco, CA ISBN-13: 978-0470889343/ISBN-10: 0470889349.

Brookfield spends some time talking about assumptions. So, let me challenge three assumptions I see in the idea that content isn’t addressed in the RSD framework:

  1.  There is an implied assumption that the RSD framework is responsible for content acquisition.  I suggest that it is the instructor’s responsibility to provide a minimal amount of content upon which students can then expand upon and integrate. Can learners do research without any content knowledge?
  2. Is the RSD really about content acquisition?  In the U.S. there is a big push for “21st century skills”.  This includes problem solving, team work, analysis, and so forth.  Is the RSD designed for content acquisition or for addressing “21st Century Skills”.
  3. Are we reaching a point in education where we are using tried and true techniques of pedagogical approaches that no longer apply to learning?  The traditional education paradigm is that professors and teachers are “gatekeepers” with access to knowledge that they can disseminate as their expertise warrants.  However, today’s learners are on the Internet learning from videos, articles, wikis, blogs, one another, by-passing us as experts.  Do pedagogical principles still apply to today’s learners or should we start to look at including some andragogical (adult learning) principles to today’s learners?

I look forward to hearing your responses relative to the Research Skill Development framework.

 

RSD, Infectious Disease, and Biomimicry

Hi Everyone!

The RSD Framework (https://www.adelaide.edu.au/rsd/framework/) is an easy sell to people who already embrace research and who are interested in “best” pedagogical practices. I see a lot of publications regarding how the RSD was implemented in across disciplines and in a variety of settings.  However, I am interested in the process as well as the products.  How does one move beyond “early adopters” with new ideas and technologies?  I am beginning to reach out to K-12 institutions and try to convince them to try working with the RSD.  I wrestled with the “best” way to do this.  There is anecdotal evidence about what is working.  Here goes: Continue reading “RSD, Infectious Disease, and Biomimicry”