22 SES 06 D, University Teachers and their Learning
According to Hickling-Hudson et al. (2004:6) ‘Indigenous peoples and Indigenous knowledges are marginalized by a view of the world through ‘imperial eyes’, a view which (re)inscribes the dominant, exclusionary Western beliefs’. Other things being equal, teachers in general are said to draw on three main interrelated and changing knowledge bases: knowledge of content, knowledge of teaching processes and knowledge of their students (Shulman, 1987; Turner-Bisset, 1999). As a dimension of pedagogic practice, the management of non-compliant classroom behavior is varied and historically shaped, subject to ideological, legislative and policy shifts over time. The relation between university teachers and students has to all times been characterized as an asymmetric relation since the teachers have the power of definition of what counts as academic standards.
We have seen considerable studies on student perspectives (Stuart, et al 2012). However, a review reveals scarce knowledge about how university teachers try to compensate and include the non-traditional and first-generational students.
In this paper, we pay special attention to curricular and pedagogical traditions or management strategies in postnational educational systems, where the majority of students are first-generation and at higher risk of attrition. Assuming that the academic staff (Both Greenlandic and Danish) has bodily incorporated an awareness of these circumstances since they are part of common knowledge of Greenlandic history, an ideal of emancipatory approach derives from compensating both teacher- and postcolonial dominance.
The research question asked is how university teachers navigate in this context, what are their experiences and how do they manage to integrate and make students participate more actively and achieve what they consider to be academic standards?
The experiences of teachers working in these contexts have rarely been reported in the literature. Our aim is to highlight the ambiguous nature of change of a particular educational system, the Greenlandic University which can be considered a representative of a neocolonial university with Western conceptions of curriculum, pedagogy, and language. In this way the Greenlandic case can be seen as an institution struggling to match western/European standards and at the same time acknowledging the non-traditional behavior.
The theoretical framework is based on Bourdieus theory of practice and selective concepts.
To understand how the teachers act when teaching, the notion of strategy is used referring to something that rests on a practical ‘feel for the game.’ Strategies are the result of combining practical good sense with commonly accepted practices. Symbolic power is used to understand and explain the nature of the strategies. The structures of the field arise from differentiation, which is grounded in a defining principle of what is of value. Thus, teachers have the authority and the means to assess students, and do so based on a certain set of assumptions, expectations, and values that are not always explicit. The notion of cultural capital is therefore used to understand the experiences of teachers’ strategies in higher education. (Bourdieu, 1986).
Methods This study is based on classroom observations and interviews of teachers who joined a university requested pedagogic course to improve their teaching. 17 teachers participated in the course. The teacher participants (of both Danish and Greeenlandic origin) taught in their practices a range of subjects and used Danish, Greenlandic (and English) as the medium of instruction. In order to explore the types of knowledges taught, categories of teaching process knowledge, and the range of pedagogic identities made available to teachers and students, lectures focused on the teachers' descriptions of the learner characteristics of Greenlandic students, their professional roles whilst teaching at the university, and curriculum and pedagogic design. We were interested in understanding how the various teachers are actually working and exploring their various ethical and epistemological stands on the nature of ‘true’ knowledge, on the ‘right’ teacher and the ‘right’ student. To this end, our interviews focused on episodes of classroom trouble that provoked the respondent’s intervention and what moral expectations the teachers invoked and legitimated in their efforts to regulate student behaviour (ex. increase participation or student activation). In the interviews, we also queried the two groups of teachers (Danish and Greenlandic) on the students they taught, their own role, professional and social identity, the knowledge transmitted, and their pedagogical strategies whilst teaching.
We have identified 4 teacher strategies which have not yet been refined. Here we present 3. Zero-fault on Greenlandic language-strategy in contrast to “teaching in the dark”. A Greenlandic teacher expresses a distinct awareness of how she masters her Greenlandic language when teaching students in her mother tongue, Greenlandic. When she writes major pieces/instructions, she consults what she considers “language experts” within and outside the university. During lectures, she enhances her students to correct her if she uses “wrong” words or grammar. In contrast to this rigorous self-policing, we see how Danish teachers on the opposite are ready to give up on the use of understandable language. Several Danish teachers frame disciplinary discussions followed up by plenary sessions where the students are allowed to discuss and work in Greenlandic which is a language the teacher does not understand. The teachers argue that activating the students is crucial in spite of the fact that they are unable to validate or respond to the academic content. One teacher talks about “teaching in the dark”. Teaching formalia-strategy A Greenlandic female teacher in her 50’s tries to neutralize a classic problem with students not knowing what is expected from them by making an effort teaching in explaining the learning goals. She makes exercises on how to translate the Danish concepts of the learning goals and the key concepts. She makes a virtue out of the semantic translation of the concepts from Danish to Greenlandic, and argues within the framework of Biggs and Blooms taxonomy. She argues theoretically with the concept of “parallel languaging” where the idea is to use both mother tongue and the second language intertwined or parallel.
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