Diverse Voices: ICED Conference 2018

For the last week, I was at the International Consortium for Educational Development (ICED) conference in Atlanta. After a long wait at the airport (1.5 hrs queuing to get an immigration officer!), I finally made it to the conference.

Being that I’m doing research currently on migrant academics, I was interesting in sessions that were about diverse or different voices and supporting those through educational development. It was interesting about the discourses about diversity in the USA. It appears to centre around essentially race and ethnicity which I think is different here in the UK, which tends to centre around widening participation, nationality and disabilities (i.e. about making our programmes inclusive). I also enjoyed being at a conference that was directly related to the practice in my job and looking at the trends and directions in how educational development is moving in the world; particularly the push for academic development in the Asian countries of China and Japan.

For the first day, I was live-blogging about the sessions I went to, but then I got caught up in preparing my presentation and then I was just being present in sessions rather than tapping away. I only re-engaged with social media when I tweeted Peter Felten’s closing keynote on how to use students as change agents in educational development. Here are some of the live-blogging sessions I went to on the first day.

Developing Global Perspectives on Well-Being (James Fortney – Saint Louis University in Missouri – workshop)

From a Catholic institution that is interesting in supporting the well-being and support of their faculty (reminds me the ethos of working at Liverpool Hope University which is an ecumenical university).

Uses a definition of well-being by Shuster (2018) from the AACU:

well-being embodies a sense of direction and purpose, positive personal identity, strong relationships, empathy, resilience, and mindfulness

My view point: This definition seems to me can relate to self-determination theory about the sense of direction and purpose (i.e. intrinsic motivation) and strong relationships (relatedness) with a mixture of positive psychology.

My viewpoint: Highlights an interesting paper around burnout and compassion fatigue (Boye, 2018) which speaks to me about my interest in the need for staff to deal with stress and take time out which I’ve discussed in Administration – are we academics doing more than we should? ; Considering the mental health of migrant academics; University Closure Dates: Needed for Duty of Care? and We have a male suicide problem at universities: why do we, the academics, ignore the issue?

We had some interesting questions particularly around why we should be thinking of well-being. In universities we think of well-being only within the job but not outside of the university, so it fails to be holistic. However, we need to consider is this the job of the educational developer to encourage well-being or should that be more central. But the question is, if we don’t do it? Who will? And therefore it may be incumbent on us to try and make our faculty staff aware that there is life beyond the walls and to model well-being. Further, we need to try and engage those people in mid- to late-career who we may have less contact with in trying to find a sense of purpose that unites all aspects of their job (learning and teaching, research and administration) in order to make it meaningful for them. There is also a need from the hierarchy to ensure that they show they value every one of their staff not just the ones who are doing well in research or what they consider the be the next new thing.

Hearing Different Voices (Debby Cotton and Jennie Winter – Plymouth University)

Debbie is speaking about sustainability in the Chinese Higher Education system. Mentions the discontinuity hypothesis that is when people are having a big change in life, they are more likely to be open to new ideas. Confucian ideas about humanism etc means that sustainability is part of their society. Sustainability is in the Chinese 5 year plan.

Their research questions are about how do Chinese Faculty in Economics and Business disciplines understand sustainability? And the barriers to incorporating this into their teaching? They did 18 interviews with Chinese Higher Education Faculty.

My view point: These research questions seem to align quite nicely to the UK’s Industrial Strategy and the GCRF Grand Challenges. I do wonder what is meant by sustainability. In the context that Debby is speaking about it appears to be environmental sustainability.

The Chinese academics are indicating that the barriers they face is that they could not go against the Government in their teaching slides, although they may discuss it in the classroom. The teaching of sustainability tends to be around didactic teaching.

Debby is provided a plug for her new SEDA publication on sustainability.

Plymouth has set up an International Faculty Developer Programme which they are marketing to the Chinese market in which they are training the trainers.

Debby is saying that the students are expecting to be taught about sustainability so there is a hunger for it and should be incorporated into the curriculum. Also, it appears that students think this might be important for their employability.

Internationalisation of curriculum through graduate attributes (Winny Bakker and Catherine Meissner – University of Groningen)

We’ve been able to use padlet as a way to share our ideas of developing inter-cultural intelligence. Our main idea is about increasing active interaction with people from different cultures.

Catherine speaks about a particular case study in medicine on how we encourage graduate attributes as denoted by Barrie (2007) for intercultural education. In the case study, there were a process of trying to create internationalised learning outcomes that formalises the informal learning such as about the perceptions of vaccinations in different cultures.

My view point: Their university is concerned about intercultural competence amongst their staff in general – I wonder why? It appears that staff have been trained in this and they’re trying to capitalise on the diversity in their classrooms. This might connect to our research in migrant academics and native academics.

Comparison study of educational development in Japan and US (Toru Hayashi, Shinichi Yamazaki, Andrea Beach, Andrea Sorcinelli – Yamaguchi University and Michigan University)

The educational development associations in Japan is JAED and in the US is POD network.

They conducted a survey in Japan across 775 universities (about 49% response rate). The US tended to have more approaches around informal discussion, seminars and small group instructional diagnoses. Japan seems to lead more on using web-based resources.

Both countries are concerned about active learning and of course the perennial assessment and feedback issues (based on the signature workshops they provide). The US is becoming more concerned with teaching under-prepared students as well about multiculturalism and diversity.

My view point: The US is also concerned about the mid-career and senior faculty development which is also a strong concern for us at our university (because they tend to not engage) but this is not seen in the Japan. I wonder what the concerns are about mid-career and senior faculty i.e. do all universities have the same concerns or do they differ?

Both countries are looking at ways for direct and indirect assessments such as rubrics, student engagement survey. In the US, the way that curriculum reform is supported is content-based and university specific whilst in Japan it is agreed upon nationally- similarly what happens in the UK, where we have the QAA subject benchmarks for each discipline.

My view point: It’s interesting in this presentation, they are looking at how both countries can be mentored from each other and it is not a colonisation/imperialistic approach, where the Western countries (i.e. the US) imposes their ideas onto Japan.

Global vs Regional Identity (Martina Morth and Bjorn Kiehe from Berlin Centre for Higher Education and work from Claudia Burger from Goethe University)

They’ve asked how do we feel when we hear the word “home”. It is part of our social identity this feeling of home. People shouting out words like safety, comfort, care, food (food was not me!!) etc.

Stating that internationalisation is not only about the mobility of students and staff. It is more! It is about developing international and intercultural competencies. Cites Betty Leask’ idea of an internationalised curriculum.

They speak about an international competences matrix by van der Werf to help determine how well a teaching staff can work within an internationalised higher education environment

My view point: This matrix is interesting as we are in the process of developing a migrant academic toolkit and this can inform it.

Most of the diversity workshops in Germany are dealing with cultural diversity and diversity in teaching; very little deal with racism free workshops as this is not a big concept in Germany.

My view point: It’s interesting how different cultures value and focus on different things in their learning and teaching workshops and it shows a reflection on the issues being face by society within their own countries.

In Germany, the faculty development is voluntary which is different to most of the UK universities.

Institutional Change: Voices, Identities, Power and Outcomes (Chng Hoon Huang, Torgny Roxa, Joy Mighty and Mary Sorcinelli)

The panel is introducing themselves. Heard Joy Mighty (Carleton University) speak and suddenly realise that was a West Indian accent in particular, Guyana. Checked her out – and she is from Guyana (my ability to get West Indian accents is still pretty good!).

Ideology: Torgny is going to speak about ideology and mentions a Nigerian author (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) about the danger of a single story and indicates that sometimes our ideology is like that. He indicates that one ideology (from another researcher) suggests that constructive alignment is being used a neoliberalist tool to suppress the academic and create them as uniform teachers and he has written a paper to contest/ discuss this notion.

Management and Power: Chng is speaking about the discourse around academic development which is quite negative and suggests we have no power because of low budget and a poor understanding of what teaching and learning centres do. It is therefore incumbent on us to make the university know what we do and our impact on the university i.e. being the change agents. We should work with management rather than against management. Her reminders:

  • Reminder 1: Academic development should feed into university’s priorities and strategy.
  • Reminder 2: Work with macro-level work rather than with individuals as addressing the whole is more sustainable.
  • Reminder 3: Aim to change the prevailing culture rather than bringing in small interventions.

Self-reflective: Joy wants us to reflect on a set of questions in order for us to understand ourselves and how we can effect change in our institutions.

  • Is our profession inclusive?
  • Whose voices and perspectives are at the table?
  • Whose perspectives are leading the educational development?
  • Which voices have been unheard? such as gender, ethnicity, sexual identity
  • To what extent are we not including the voices from developing countries?
  • Whose agendas are we following? i.e. particular government policies
  • How are our values being changed to fit other’s values and views?

Outcomes and Impact: Mary wants us to think about the need for focusing on the assessments and outcomes of our students. L&T centres are good at tracking the workshops done and the people that attended. But they were not so good about changes in the teaching cultures and the knowledge of persons. The reason for this is because centres are considered as professional services rather than looking at researching/ evaluating its impact. Further, the metrics for our success may be determined depending on whether management sees you as a professional unit and wants to know the number of persons we service. Recent research suggests that academic development is making teaching is better. Emotion and culture are the critical pillars for creating transformation. Mary wants to encourage more evidence-informed research.



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