ERG SES D 12, Institutional Frameworks in Education
The Post-Compulsory Education (PCE) sector is becoming increasingly marketized, something that is being echoed across Europe. Within such institutions there is a need to ‘deliver’ programmes as efficiently as possible to make them cost effective, yet, importantly, aim to have as many students as possible achieve the qualification. With this comes a need to monitor the effectiveness of the lecturers and make them more accountable for the success of their students. This study explores how the effects of monitoring and accountability have impacted on the lecturers’ pedagogic practice and how it has resulted in 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 a deeper subject knowledge. This study will endeavour to find a pedagogic approach that will address this issue.
The research questions are:
- How do lecturers experience monitoring and accountability when teaching HE in the PCE classroom and what has that meant for learning and teaching?
- What kind of methodological design/approach would be best used to investigate a complex environment such as the PCE classroom?
- How can bricolage be used as an approach to identify the interconnections of different phenomena?
- Can a revised pedagogic approach be developed to encourage deeper learning and understanding in the PCE classroom?
- 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 am 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 was 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 is being 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 is 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 has been used to highlight current positive aspects of pedagogic practice of participating lecturers, identifying pedagogic methods that could be used or modified to improve the learning opportunities for the students. With the epistemological stance of pragmatism, Action Research is the ideal vehicle to apply the changes and collect data. Accepting the complexity of the PCE classroom, and the many interconnected strands that may need to be investigated, the bricolage approach is being applied to support a realist and idealistic ontological approach giving the freedom to determine what reality is and free me as the researcher from any single philosophical stance.
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