3260 Digital Feedback Project

Creating this digital project on Instructor Feedback strategies showed me the variety of options available for obtaining feedback.Researching this digital project also showed me how easy and effective it can be to obtain effective and meaningful feedback from instructional sessions either using self-reflection or other feedback methods discussed by my peers or suggested in the references.

I decided to create a digital project on Self-Evaluation as I felt this method was not extensively covered by my classmates as well as it has a number of unique boons to it. The feedback strategy is highly customizable and is easy to modify and grow with the instructor.

My digital project can be found at the following link: Creating A Self-Monitoring Feedback Strategy

PIDP Reflection

At this point in my  PIDP I have taken the majority of the available courses save for the Instructor Skills Workshop/PIDP 3220 and the final project.

It has been an interesting journey up to this point, I would not say that these courses have been groundbreaking or a revelation in thinking for me. However, these courses have confirmed pre-existing concepts and assumptions I have developed through my own experiences during my post-secondary education as well as my experiences as an instructor. I am very fortunate that I am a young instructor taking these courses early in my education career not only am I more open and adaptable to change but many of the concepts taught and emphasized in this program I had already come to or eluded to myself through my personal experience in the field of education.

In terms of actual learning in the courses, I think one of the more important concepts is that incorporating digital media and active learning pedagogies are easier than perceived. All that is needed to effectively use and incorporate new ideas and techniques is a bit of research, effort, and the willingness to take a risk and put yourself outside your comfort zone. Initially, this seems quite daunting and overwhelming but the more you strive to exit the safety of tried and true methods the easier it becomes to adopt new teaching styles.

I would not say that my thinking has changed substantially but I am definitely leaning more towards open and inclusive concepts of active learning styles and trying to foster the proper use and application of digital media in classrooms. These courses have been great in the sense of introducing me to like-minded individuals who share my yearning to make a change and ameliorate the learning experiences of our students. It can often be difficult to be the voice of change when you seem to be the only one carrying the tune. The coursing has also provided me with a wealth of resources to tap into in order to deliver the highest quality content to my students. I still struggle though with fundamental problems in the PIDP such as the courses are not targeted or designed for technical courses. The big difference I have found between the PIDP courses and my own teaching is that I have very dense course material with tight timelines. This manifests itself as a problem since I have found very few techniques in the courses that aid in decompressing a course and relieving the need to meet course milestones. There are many wonderful teaching techniques and pedagogies discussed in the program but very few of them I find applicable to my field of instruction due to the fact that they require more class time to cover less material. While this may provide a more engaging atmosphere for the students it does not assist those of that must cover a specified number of topics in a given course when I am already struggling to meet course timelines.

After completing the PIDP I will continue to pursue new teaching techniques and pedagogies. I have been increasing the volume and types of digital media in my teaching I have taken to creating Infographics which I have received positive feedback on from both peers and students. I have also started creating mini-podcast series for laboratory portions of courses and students seem to be well receiving this form of digital media addition to their coursing. I’m not sure where my PIDP learning and experience will lead me but I know it will be a better instructor for it and my students will be better learners because of it.

Program Accreditation

I teach at Camosun College located in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. We have a number of accredited programs based on the Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists (CTAB). The technology programs offered at my school have been accredited since 1998 or from when they were implemented. The following courses are offered in the technology field at Camosun College under CTAB accreditation:

  • Civil Engineering Technology 2005 Sydney Accord
  • Computer Engineering Technology Technologist Information Technology  1998 to 2010 Sydney Accord
  • Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology – Renewable Resources
    1998 Sydney Accord
  •  Environmental Technology Technologist Bioscience 2003 none
  • Mechanical Engineering Technology Technologist Mechanical 1998 Sydney Accor

The synopsized process of acquiring accreditation from CTAB is as follows.

“The Canadian Technology Accreditation Board (CTAB) provides the evaluation of applied science and engineering technology programs in Canada. Accreditation is a voluntary, yet detailed, review of a technology program measured against the National Technology Benchmarks™ (NTB). CTAB uses a two-part process to assess the program at a level of performance, integrity, and quality, ensuring that technology programs across Canada keep pace with change and remain relevant to industry.

Part 1: Self-Study

The organization seeking accreditation evaluates its own compliance against a national series of outcome requirements. The self-study portion requires that the program demonstrate how it meets/exceeds the National Technology Benchmarks. Key areas that are examined during the process include the list of program strengths, course outlines, evidence of student work, the organization’s governance, faculty qualifications, and the management of the program.

Part 2: Peer Review

External reviewers undertake an evaluation of the program to measure the organization through an on-site visit. This review offers clients the opportunity to have the program assessed by external and objective reviewers. During the on-site visit, the reviewers meet with a broad spectrum of individuals, such as faculty, students, graduates, advisory committee members, and senior administration to discuss their experiences, perceptions, and expectations. The findings from the evaluation are summarized in a report and focus on the strengths and weaknesses. Recommendations and opportunities for improvement are made to assist the organization in curriculum development.” (CTAB, 2016)

This is a changing landscape though and our institution is moving away from CTAB accreditation to a more inclusive and in-depth accreditation process called Technology Accreditation Canada (TAC). We will be transitioning to TAC accreditation in the coming years. The move towards TAC from CTAB is based on the recommendations of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) the following is the general overview of TAC program accreditation.

“TAC accredited programs represent excellence in education, directly embodying the standards of the engineering technology profession.

The TAC accreditation model was developed in direct response to findings made by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) after performing a comprehensive, independent review of technology accreditation practices that existed at the time measured against best practices from other jurisdictions and sectors.

Accreditation involves an educational institutions providing information about its institution and program in accordance with the National Accreditation Components (NAC). This information is evaluated by a trained audit team against the Canadian Technology Accreditation Criteria (CTAC) to determine whether the program meets the standards of the engineering technology industry.

TAC accreditation is a fair, responsive and transparent audit process which measures an engineering technology or applied science program against the engineering technology profession’s national standards using a trained, skilled audit team.”(TAC, 2016)

Creative Lectures

I instruct in a highly technical field with dense material. After taking many of the PIDP courses which provide alternatives to lecturing I still find it difficult to implement them in my classroom settings due to limitations on time, requirements to cover material, and milestones required by accreditation and alignment with laboratory work. Upon investigating some articles on faculty focus I found this article to be in alignment with my views of pedagogy Active Learning vs Lecturing. I don’t believe that there is anyone perfect format for creating an engaging classroom not only is it topically dependent but it must also work with the style of the instructor. When possible I try to use a varied approach to my lectures and seek out opportunities to engage with the students individually and as a whole.

That being said my version of lecturing is not one where I drone on for hours at a time I try to employ many aspects of creative and engaging lecturing. I strive to break my lectures up with reflective pauses and moments of silence. During these moments I pose questions to my students ask them to solve the next step in the problem or example presented. I also ask the class to identify my assumptions if I’ve made any and what would we do to validate or check the assumptions.

I also try to organize my lectures in a manner that throughout the term we are building upon the foundation of previous lectures and topics and do not jump around from place to place without a unifying theme. In addition, when lecturing with my students I try to draw upon my own experiences sighting examples from my professional career or moments where I have applied the theory that we are discussing, I also attempt to incorporate analogy whenever possible as I find it provides a new viewpoint which often helps to crystalize theory in the mind of the students.

 

 

Professional Ethics

As an instructor it is paramount that we uphold our ethics, we are given an enormous amount of authority as an instructor and it is up to us to monitor and self-asses our efforts and those of our colleagues. I am fortunate that in my field of Engineering we also have a professional body which has its own code of ethics. While it is not mandatory to be a Professional Engineer in order to instruct it is certainly looked upon favorably as well as it provides additional resources when looking for the correct ethical or moral direction with a dilemma.

Engineering Code of Ethics:

“Members and licensees shall act at all times with fairness, courtesy and good faith to their associates, employers, employees and clients, and with fidelity to the public needs. They shall uphold the values of truth, honesty and trustworthiness and safeguard human life and welfare and the environment. In keeping with these basic tenets, members and licensees shall: 1) Hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public, the protection of the environment and promote health and safety within the workplace; 2) Undertake and accept responsibility for professional assignments only when qualified by training or experience; 3) Provide an opinion on a professional subject only when it is founded upon adequate knowledge and honest conviction; 4) Act as faithful agents of their clients or employers, maintain confidentiality and avoid a conflict of interest but, where such conflict arises, fully disclose the circumstances without delay to the employer or client; 5) Uphold the principle of appropriate and adequate compensation for the performance of engineering and geoscience work; 6) Keep themselves informed in order to maintain their competence, strive to advance the body of knowledge within which they practice and provide opportunities for the professional development of their associates; 7) Conduct themselves with fairness, courtesy and good faith towards clients, colleagues and others, give credit where it is due and accept, as well as give, honest and fair professional comment; 8) Present clearly to employers and clients the possible consequences if professional decisions or judgments are overruled or disregarded; 9) Report to their association or other appropriate agencies any hazardous, illegal or unethical professional decisions or practices by members, licensees or others; and 10) Extend public knowledge and appreciation of engineering and geoscience and protect the profession from misrepresentation and misunderstanding.”(APEGBC, 2016)

If one considers students to be clients of education then this presents some fairly strong language and provides the reader with the sense of duty that is required to hold up such a code of ethics.

At my workplace, there is no procedural manual but there is a strong community and a very open department mentality to engage in discussion with one another to determine the best course of action. If I am ever in doubt of a decision or unsure how to proceed I am able to seek the guidance of my chair or fellow colleagues readily.

Falling short of Diversity

After reading chapter 8 of a Skillful Teacher the author’s discussion on diversity of culture, instructional delivery, and pedagogy caused me to reflect on my own teaching.

In the Engineering field we especially tend to lack diversity of all kinds even gender, this is a changing demographic though with an increasing number of international students. While my field of education may not have some of the issues describe by Brookfield we do have cultural issues arising from the increasing number of international students which bring with them a diverse set of learning competencies, communication styles, and language proficiency issues. This is an ever growing topic of discussion and driving force of change in our education system.

While considering my own teaching and instructional style I thought how we could implement a teaching scenario similar to what Brookfield suggests using a team approach. I can think of only one instance in my experience in post-secondary school during my engineering degrees where a course was team-taught by two instructors. In this instance, the approach fell short and made the class more difficult and lacked continuity.  This may have been a case of poor communication between the instructors, or the selection of incorrect team members, or even perhaps a poor choice of topic.

My own teaching style is one of verbal, written, and visual components. I strive to incorporate all three into my lectures whenever possible, although I tend to add extra information into the verbal part of the lecture to augment the core concepts which have been written and said, as well as drawn if possible.

If I were to add a team member to teach with it would be difficult to chose one particular partner, I also do not know how it would be implemented with a highly technical course load. I believe the struggle would be in continuity between materials, as was my own personal experience.

 

International Students are Getting Left Behind

A policy-centric approach to addressing the issue of International Students or more broadly students that are in post-secondary institutions that are not native English speakers, whatever form of ESL that might take, would all benefit from changes at the administrative and policy level.  A policy level change that looks at the issues surrounding students with English language deficiencies could have many facets and be a multi-pronged approach to enhancing the learning environment for these students.

The fundamental issue of students enrolling in curriculums in which they cannot succeed due to language limitations must stop. It causes unnecessary stress at all levels of the institution from the students to the administration. There is no clear cut path forward but a policy level change will do the most good for the most people.

This change in policy would have the added benefit for students of not just being more successful in their academic endeavors, but they would also be able to play a larger role in their academic community. When students are empowered with the ability to communicate they are more likely to engage inside and outside the classroom this is a positive feedback loop that helps to further improve English language proficiency. (Zhao, Kuh, & Carini, 2002)

This is where the cultural diversity can blossom and bring a truly multicultural learning environment into fruition. Not only do the international students benefit from increased engagement and knowledge retention the experience of their peers is also enhanced and enriched. International students bring with them more than monetary additions and a budget surplus, they have a unique viewpoint and a wealth of experience that goes largely underutilized. By sharing their experiences with peers there are enhancing the learning of the entire community they are a part of.

Student Feedback

The act of teaching can be a difficult task, as educators, we are constantly confronted with vastly differing learning styles coupled with language barriers and pressure to fit more content into less time.

It is often far too easy to leave a student or multiple students behind unknowingly until they complete some type of formal assessment. Often at this stage, it is difficult to correct the deficiency in knowledge, comprehension, or understanding.

One method to help preempt poor assessment performance is to create informal feedback mechanisms that can gauge student understanding, engagement, and participation. This may provide the instructor with key information into how the course can be modified or tailored to meet the unique needs of the class.

I am currently going to try implementing such a document in one of my classes so that I might better serve my students and improve their performance on exams.

Student Assesments

One of the biggest struggles in teaching is knowing if you are being effective in your ability to create true learning in students.

Often it is considered a standard practice to evaluate effectiveness in teaching on test scores and overall achievement in a program. However many studies have found that basing teaching effectiveness on test scores has many flaws and is an ineffective tool for measuring classroom performance of both the students and the instructor.

If you as a teacher/instructor/professor are truly interested and motivated to cause real learning in your students then you must implement some form of feedback mechanism from the students to gauge their engagement on a timescale that is smaller than a term of school. Taking exit surveys at the end of a course is too late you can no longer help those students, and due to the variability of cohorts and classes the feedback from one group may not apply or be a hinderance to the next group of students.

 

The Problem with Perfection

After reading chapter 3 of “The Skillful Teacher” (Brookfield, 2015) I found myself contemplating this quote “I find myself repeatedly frustrated by not achieving an unblemished record of expressed student satisfaction for every week of the course.”

I can empathize with the authors struggle for trying to achieve a perfect score on his  Critical Incident Questionnaire (CIQ), this is the authors’ preferred method of measuring classroom engagement and finding out where the lecture fell short.

The problem with instruction and trying to get students or anybody for that manner to learn is that we are all different and learn at different rates, styles, and require our own timeline to internalize information. So I can relate to the authors desire to achieve a perfect score on his CIQ, in essence, meaning that he was able to teach everyone in his class effectively. In reality, this is unachievable and if the CIQ’s were returned with perfect scores I would suspect that the students are not reporting honestly and candidly.