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/).
I-MELT is the International conference on Models of Engaged Learning and Teaching, designed for fluid thinking about issues important to you and your students.
Conversations will be framed around the Models of Engaged Learning and Teaching, and these models share broad parameters and are as varied in purpose and applications as:
- the Research Skill Development framework http://www.rsd.edu.au
- the Optimising Problem Solving pentagon
- Research Mountain, a song about research processes for early childhood http://www.rsd.edu.au/schooling/early-childhood/
- and your MELT. Many academic and professional staff have been devising their own MELT in workshops, and the conference will be an opportunity to see these showcased and to present your own version.
I-MELT runs 11-13 December 2017 and you can now register at early bird rates.
If you are coming from overseas or interstate, I suggest booking accommodation early because it is a busy time of year. We have some good rates available from the registration page.
John for the I-MELT organising committee
Sylvia Tiala sent me this link to a TED talk about making toast. https://www.ted.com/talks/tom_wujec_got_a_wicked_problem_first_tell_me_how_you_make_toast#t-311716
The presenter, Tom Wujec, is concerned with processes for solving wicked problems, which I think includes formal education, and starts with toast making as his simple example.
Tom notes ‘Systems theorists tell us that the ease with which we can change a representation correlates to our willingness to improve the model.’
The penny dropped for me- that’s why the pentagon version of the RSD seems to energise people, whereas framework versions are of interest, but sometimes paralysing in detail. People can and do readily change aspects of the pentagon. That’s also a reason why we went for the more general name MELT (Models of Engaged Learning and Teaching)- people feel at liberty to change the name too, so that it describes the complex thinking processes that they are most interested in.
Then it occurred to me something similar happened to me about a year ago at a conference presentation-when I paid attention to Harvard University’s ‘thinking routines’. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/summary?doi=10.1.1.545.213
Thinking routines provide a frame for student thinking, and in initial use may be quite trivial, but when repeated in many contexts and where they become a routine, they can grow in rigour and sophistication applied. One example is ‘I used to think and now I think’ to help students with more sophisticated reflection on learning. This routine scaffold student thinking in a way that values change in thinking rather than confirming one’s own biases. The TED on toast provides another thinking routine for solving wicked problems. Start simple eg with toast making, and let the routine grow in different contexts and in sophistication applied.
I came to think of MELT as an appropriate thinking routine across formal education, which helped me to understand some of the ways that MELT could be helpful. When I mention thinking routines in workshops now, quite a few people have commented on the idea and taken up its terminology.
These are all ways of understanding the MELT and their use retrospectively, meaning we can better understand why they work when they work.
DO you know of some other concepts that may shed light on why MELT can work for people and/or on limitations to the models?
Reply to this post (scroll down) with a concept (existing or new idea) that could help us understand MELT better. You may explain this, provide a link or both.
What is out there to help us prospectively improve or consolidate MELT and its implementation? This is where diversity of the blog readership will help greatly- to get very divergent thinking going which could really improve MELT.
I am really looking forward to some amazing new insights.
The MELT workshop has been moved to Horace Lamb 422.
Its a tricky room to find, so here is a map. Hope to see you there for coffee 9.30am , start at 10am.
After the workshop you might comment about what was useful for you in the workshop, and what you need for the future.
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.
Would you like graduates of your programs to have developed deep understandings of subject matter and research or problem solving mindedness?
Do you want to foreground critical thinking and use technology to support its development, not have technology drive the agenda?
How can you help students to connect together the skills associated with problem solving, critical thinking, clinical reasoning and researching in ways that enable these skills to mutually reinforce across multiple semesters of a degree?
The MELT workshop on the Models of Engaged Learning and Teaching will help you address these questions. The MELT reflect and are based on organic adaptations of the Research Skill Development (RSD) framework to numerous other models, including the Work Skill Development framework (for WIL) and Optimising Problem Solving pentagon (made by students for students in Engineering). The workshop facilitates the development of your own MELT that fits your context. Join us at one of the state-based events run over the next few months:
Queensland: 25 November, University of Queensland http://tiny.cc/okqjgy
South Australia: 30 November, University of Adelaide http://tiny.cc/6asagy
Victoria: 1 December, Monash University http://tiny.cc/w5shgy
New South Wales: 2 December, University of New South Wales http://tiny.cc/adnigy
You may consider passing on this information to colleagues who may be interested.
Events are also being planned in Western Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.
Please register through the links above. If you have any questions, contact me on email@example.com
I hope you can join us at one of these events.
Emeritus Professor Mick Healey will be giving a Keynote address at I-MELT– the International Conference on Engaged Learning and Teaching. Mick has a strong research interest in Engaging Students as partners, including in all forms of undergraduate research and inquiry.
I-MELT will provide an opportunity for academic, professional and sessional staff and students to share a conceptualisation in common around contemporary issues facing teaching and learning. The concept in common will be the inter-related Models of Engaged Learning and Teaching, including:
- The Research Skill Development framework (RSD)
- The Work Skill Development framework (WSD)
- The Clinical Reflection Skills Framework (CRS)
- The Optimising Problem Solving pentagon (OPS)
- The Critical Thinking pentagon (CT)
- The Researcher Development framework (RSD7)
- and Research Mountain (for Early Childhood)
The conference runs 4-6 December 2017. Details, including themes and other key dates are at www.i-melt.edu.au
Hope you can make it
On behalf of the I-MELT Organising Committee