Editorial for Volume 3, issue 2.
Welcome to the second issue of volume 3 of LINK, an online journal published by the University of Hertfordshire School of Education.
As we come to the end of the third volume of LINK, it is a good time to reflect on the degree to which we have met our stated aim, to make visible the research and scholarship undertaken by colleagues within and linked to the School of Education. In these three volumes we have presented 22 articles and 22 thought-pieces, by 77 academics, school partners and post-graduate students. We are particularly pleased by the range of topics considered and by author feedback which demonstrates how exposure of ideas through LINK is leading to opportunities to write for other journals and contribute to knowledge and practice-building more widely.
In this issue, the articles and thought-pieces are linked by the common theme of learning and teaching: what do we mean by teaching? How can we develop it? How can we best support student learning?
Our first article raises some challenging issues regarding teaching systems within the university sector. Here Joy Jarvis explores the idea of ‘pedagogic frailty’. Using a model developed by Kinchin (2015), Joy explores four interconnected concepts: regulative discourse around teaching; pedagogy and discipline connections; research and teaching links; and locus of control of teaching. The concepts are looked at in terms of how and why they might contribute to pedagogic frailty and alternatively how they could contribute to creating a pedagogic system that is not frail. Joy makes the provocative suggestion that currently teaching systems are frail in relation to preparing students and staff for the future. She proposes that more effective pedagogy could be developed by changes in the structure and content of each of the four dimensions.
The next two articles both focus on student-staff partnership working in developing an understanding of learning and teaching. The first of these articles is co-authored by a group of students and academics, led by Christine Collins, and was written to provide insights into undergraduate students’ learning from taking part in a student-staff collaborative study in their first year at a UK university. The study comprised a series of small-scale research and evaluation activities. In the individual narratives and jointly developed model presented in the article, the student authors identify a range of learning from their participation in this study and from co-authoring this article. They demonstrate the great value which can be gained from engaging in such joint student-staff research, in terms of positive relationships, impact on self-efficacy and research understanding which has proved invaluable as they progress through their course.
The second article to focus on student-staff partnership working looks at how curiosity might be triggered in the learning environment. Rebecca Thomas draws on several key studies of the psychology and definition of curiosity as a basis for her continuing engagement with promoting curiosity and enthusiasm amongst creative arts staff. Rebecca uses her article to reflect on a series of workshops for cross-discipline staff carried out at the University of Hertfordshire during 2015-2016, and their further development in a session with similar staff held at Central Saint Martins, London, in July 2017. In the former, a collaborative approach to the making of creative practice was developed and discussed; in the latter, the possibility of fostering a curiosity-led teaching practice was proposed and further explored. In both cases, Rebecca’s commitment to enthusing the school or university teacher to regard curiosity as a central motivating force stands out as the underpinning principle.
Jo Vickers’ article considers the concepts of identity, responsibility and accountability, and attempts to connect them in a way that is meaningful for trainee and newly-qualified teachers. These three concepts are explored from both theoretical and practical perspectives, before being drawn together in a single model. Jo suggests that ‘teacher identity’ and ‘teacher accountability’ are often viewed as opposed and mutually exclusive, and argues that ‘responsibility’ sits between these two extremes and acts as a mediating influence on both of them. The article ends with the interesting conclusion that our sense of responsibility has the greatest influence on classroom practice.
The final article in this issue is by Anita Fromm and highlights the issue that foreign language students at university in the UK, both international and local, do not appear to practise the target language much outside class and form the international friendships that would be positive for their learning, socialising and future employability. This article explores reasons for this, with Anita concluding that students are hampered by issues such as shyness, a lack of vocabulary and a lack of opportunity to use the target language in social settings. Anita provides some interesting suggestions to support tutors in encouraging opportunities for multilingual conversations outside the classroom.
Jo McDowell begins the thought-piece section in this issue with her discussion of the relevance of gender to ‘being’ a primary school teacher. Jo explores research which suggests that a paucity of male teachers is having a detrimental effect on pupil behaviour and therefore learning. Based on research conducted in five Hertfordshire primary schools into teacher-pupil interaction, Joanne challenges stereoptypical views of male and female linguistic behaviour management patterns and argues instead that teachers choose to use the style of speech they feel will be most appropriate in a given context. The thought-piece concludes by confirming the need for more men in primary schools whilst at the same time offering a challenge to the prevailing rationale for this view.
David Frost and his team used their thought-piece to chart the development of a teacher-led masters programme, the HertsCam MEd in Leading Teaching and Learning. Validated as an external degree by the University of Hertfordshire, the HertsCam masters programme was designed to enable participants to become effective agents of change who would initiate, design and lead development projects, resulting in improvements in aspects of professional practice and better learning outcomes for children in schools. The thought-piece ends with a fitting celebration – a report of the graduation of the first cohort of students and news of the forthcoming publication of a book which will showcase these students’ work.
We hope that you enjoy reading the insights presented in this issue of LINK and that you will choose to contribute to future issues.
The journal is open to everyone in or linked to the School as a means of contributing to the advancement of understanding about educational practice. The readership of LINK is similarly intended to comprise both academics and practitioners - locally, in the rest of the UK and globally. Please consider developing an article or a thought-piece for a future issue – we would love to hear from you!
Amanda Roberts and Philip Woods
Read 'Is teaching systemically frail...'
Kinchin, I.M. (2015), “Pedagogic Frailty: an initial consideration of aetiology and prognosis”, Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE),Celtic Manor, Caerleon, 9-11 December. Available at: https://www.srhe.ac.uk/conference2015/abstracts/0026.pdf [Accessed: 3 January 2016]