AISHE day 2

Day 2

Between stasis and chaos: creativity , empathy: Paul Kleiman Palatine, University of Lancaster

McWilliam (2007) citation on curriculum design.

Allowance to take risks. Example from LIPA of risks taken with the design of new institution and curriculum not seen elsewhere [as former LIPA myself would agree with this wholeheartedly]

Chaos and complexity

Learning and teaching is a complex system. Simple parts that relate to each other in different ways = how we design curricula.Trying to define precisely learning outcomes makes us a hostage to unpredictability. Tozey learning and teaching theory:

  • Self organisation
  • Paradox
  • Emergence
  • The edge of chaos

Stacey (2000) chaos theory. Management like certainty, agreement, order is stasis. QA is stasis. But chaos is tension, creativity change, risk, error, chance. Chaos like a party. Could be anarchic.

[Does simplicity though have to embody stasis?]

Notion of a learning system is one of a closed system, knowledge as external and transmitted, predictability, linear causality, deterministic.


–          Conceptions of knowledge from dualism to relativism

–          Conceptions of learning from reproduction to seeking meaning

–          Conceptions of teaching from teacher centred/ content orientated to student centred and learning orientated.

Creativity definitions relate back to to similar notions of chaos eg fun, dreaming, thinking, making, doing.

Conceptions of creativity on learning and teaching

Notions of fulfilment, change, engagement..

Creativity conceived as

Constraint focused experience –from stasis, focus on the intra personal

Process focused experience –focus on the inter personal. See product ie essay as product in process

Transformation focused experience-focus on the extra personal

Can map these onto path between stasis and chaos and 3 conceptions about learning. [ Notion of learning journey]

Sometimes need order eg can’t experiment with certain chemicals!

Stumbling with confidence

Backing away from problems and the solution arrives.

Open to the answers ‘out there’.

Ask what ’might’ be the answer’ not what is the answer. But not able to articulate learning outcomes as ‘students might be able to’.

What do they really think of large classes? Shelagh Waddington and Una Crowley, National University of Ireland, Maynooth

Large classes are common with some classes over 400 students.

Large group teaching project started to improve teaching and learning in large classes. Implement practical solutions in a stepped approach. Encourage dissemination and adoption.

Interviewed staff and students in first two months.  Self selecting staff, could visit other large classes.

Then tried something new in first term of the following year, produced a report

Final phase talked to staff and students again. Wanted to gauge experience of innovations.

Asked what they enjoyed about large classes. Better preparation by staff; students enjoyed in small groups, enabled development of independent study skills; use of technology to support classes; staff enjoyed performance aspect; students no pressure to participate or arrive on time!; students thought better facilities in larger groups.

Disadvantages –similar for both stuff and students. Discipline problems-noise, food, texting etc. Lack of pressure to attend; lack of incentives to teach differently and students dislike of being guinea pigs; assessment issues how to assess and give feedback practically, can’t recognise different ability levels; anonymity issues; space issues; lack of interaction and active engagement.

Innovations mainly focused on using technology eg videos, lecture notes on moodle, online quizzes and forums, podcast s, group work, symposium, PRS.

–          Liked lecture notes online for accessibility; revision and note taking. But when everything online minors face to face is problematic. Staff worried about attendance. One staff member thought about putting up partial diagrams that could be completed in class (but not tried it)

–          Quizzes in moodle –liked for revision, time management and self study Disliked in case forgot them, pressure and people not using diverse question types.

–          Online forums where they didn’t meet disliked, some technical issues and behaviour issues. Generally liked communication, organisation, collaborative question answering and learning from others. Staff wanted to encourage more engagement and liked fact that could track participation.

–          Small groups in class- students liked interaction and meeting others but room issues, noise and some disrespect. Staff liked although concerns about time.

–          Whole class discussion. Students liked range of views but noise issues and lack of participation especially if shy.

–          Sympodium. Useful for demonstration and explanation . Students very positive although some handwriting issues! Staff liked it and made work easily accessible.

–          PRS –encouraged engagement and attention, feedback and understanding. Used for groupwork too. Students liked discussion but disliked it if too limiting for ideas. Boring if overused. Staff could tailor classes based on feedback.

–          Video clips. Students liked these as broke up lecture and made it more interesting but students didn’t see them as ‘real learning ‘or illustrative of theory. Need to get students to interrogate video.

Considering outcomes at institutional level-cap on group size at 250 for first year classes being introduced.

Booklet of 8 studies –value because it is local and people can identify colleagues. Hope to encourage others and hare second publication. Booklets will be available online.

Biggest challenge is to change ‘lecturing’ culture.

The Black Sheep of the Evaluation Family: SET in UcD. Paul Surgenor, UCD

Formative evaluation is usually perceived positively but Summative negativity by lecturers as they often have less control over it.

Summative is low cost, objective, provides a quick snapshot and some objective evidence of teaching quality, modicum of accountability, lens for reflection. Disadvantages = validity and reliability, confounding variables (eg time of day, lecturer presence, student motivation, course difficulty), grade inflation (give students higher grades so give you better feedback), perceived lack of relevance, monitoring performance- what message does this send back to senior management?

UcD introducing University wide online summative feedback system. No policy on collection of feedback but some formative happening. 4 across campus focus groups. Pilot study, no policy yet. Participation rates are still low about 20 %-working with lecturers to promote it,

4 Themes of concern:

  • Performance management
    • Target and reprimand lecturers
    • Data generated? What would this in formation be used for?
    • Lack of clarity. How use this for promotions or accountability?
    • Name and shame
  • Student engagement
    • Bureaucratic process taking time from teaching
    • Role of students to assess pedagogy especially for difficult subjects
    • Impact on promotions
    • Unrepresentative sample-people not attending class can rate you.
  • Usefulness of data
    • Quantitative data and league tables in some schools led to discontent
    • Generic evaluation tool-how recognise subject differences?
    • Acting on comments-could not clarify from students. Issues out of lecturers control and not able to act on comments
  • Consequences
    • Openness to criticism
    • What does this mean for them personally?
    • Unrealistic consequences and irrational fears.

Some issues were accepted as fine for formative but became barriers for summative.


  • Purpose: Informed lecturers of purpose, ran briefly sessions, clarified role and made contacts clear
  • Validity: clarified nexus between administration and teaching roles, supplement dates
  • Usefulness: standardised but flexible tool, question bank, not all questions shared with management. Encouraged other methods initiating formative throughout module
  • Fear: clear policy framework and answer all questions


Lecturers weren’t opposed.

Clarified goals, purposes, benefit and advantages of process

Transparency in policy and data use and access

Support in interpreting feedback and implementing changes to teaching. Lots and lots of guidance for staff.

Recommended that staff fed back to students on key points, what doing, what can‘t change.

Core of 6 questions, embedded in an email. Takes one minute-lots of student testing. Can choose up to 5 questions room a bank and 2 open ended. Very well laid out, clear, clean and simple layout.

Could use data in aggregated form (eg first year experience etc)? At  moment just information back to head of school at module level (not open ended responses). Supposed to encourage support at School level and potentially determine staff development opportunities. Can make relevant staff development. Benchmark staff at discipline level.

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