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”

Willison and Missingham to lead RSD Symposium in U. S. – December 3 &4 – Please join us!

Dr. John Willison and his colleague Dorothy Missingham are coming from Adelaide, Australia to lead UW-Stout’s Research Skills Symposium on December 3 & 4, 2015.  Interactive sessions will be led by Willison, Missingham and UW-Stout faculty who have experience integrating the RSD framework into their courses.  We are expecting to have a lot of fun in interactive sessions, discussions, student presentations, and poster sessions.  Don’t miss this rare opportunity to work with the pros who developed the RSD framework (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/rsd/) and work to apply the RSD Framework to your courses as part of sound pedagogical practices.

Please help spread the word by downloading, printing and posting the flyer RSD Symposium Flyer

For registration and details please go to:  http://www.uwstout.edu/profed/srss/

We are looking forward to seeing you there!