ERG SES D 15, Practices and Education
Further Education (FE) has become a competitive market, and with the marketization of the sector comes a responsibility to be more cost effective and in turn more accountable. This study explores how the effects of monitoring and accountability have impacted on the lecturers’ pedagogic practice and has created a narrowing of the curriculum. As a result, the students are not being given the opportunity to achieve to the best of their ability and develop higher order thinking skills. This study will endeavour to find a pedagogic method that will address this issue.
The focus of the research is as follows:
What are the effects of monitoring and accountability on pedagogic practice in the FE classroom, and how can a positive change be created in that environment?
The research questions are:
How do lecturers experience monitoring and accountability in the FE classroom and what has that meant for learning and teaching?
How do the lecturers plan, teach, assess and evaluate sessions, and what is done if a student or students fall below their expected level of progress?
What do the lecturers believe to be the most effective aspects of their lessons in relation to learning and teaching? Why?
What do lecturers believe to be the ideal lesson for building learning and teaching? Why?
What is the impact of a revised approach to pedagogy on student learning?
The research questions 1 – 4 are exploratory and are designed to inform the actions that will be taken to address question 5.
Epistemologically, my view is that knowledge is whatever I deem to be practically useful for any aspect of the study. Given that I will be using an iterative process where the detail and direction may change in terms of the acquired knowledge, the nature of the knowledge or the understanding of the knowledge, an epistemological stance of pragmatism will be adopted. For the pragmatist, an ideology can only be true if thoughts, beliefs and statements are verified by generating practical consequences (Gray, 2014; Howell, 2013). Therefore, the pragmatic approach to research asserts that questions cannot be based on theory alone, there must be some element of practical experience to support it (Dewey, 1950). Pragmatism’s renewed popularity is in some part because it provides an epistemological justification to mix different methods and approaches (Onwuegbuzie et al., 2009).
Ontologically, the research will be conducted from a realist and idealistic metaphysical perspective. The realist metaphysical position will be adopted because, independently of thought, it accepts objects and events for what they are (Rescher, 2003); their properties, and how they relate to each other are part of the nature of the world regardless of whether or not we know about them (Khlentzos, 2011). This will be complemented by an idealistic metaphysics, which contends that occurrences that are observed are ‘phenomenon of the brain’ that require an application of thought and reflection to help shape my interpretation of the events (Schopenhaur, 1966): 15-16).
An approach of Appreciative Inquiry will be used to highlight current positive aspects of pedagogic practice of participating lecturers, before identifying pedagogic methods that could be used or modified to improve the learning opportunities for the students. With an epistemological stance of pragmatism, Action Research will be the vehicle used to apply the changes and collect data. Accepting the complexity of the FE classroom, and the many interconnected strands that may need to be investigated, the bricolage approach will used to support a realist and idealistic ontological approach giving the freedom to determine what reality is and free the researchers from any single philosophical stance.
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