An Educator’s Perspective on Reflexive Pedagogy: Identity Undoing and Issues of Power

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Marian Iszatt-White of the Lancaster University Management School. Dr. Iszatt-White recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “An educator’s perspective on reflexive pedagogy: identity undoing and issues of power,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Iszatt-White reveals the inspiration for conducting this research and the impact it has on the field:]

mlqb_48_3.coverWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

All the authors of this paper are teachers as well as researchers, and spend much of our time working with ‘gnarly’ middle managers on executive education programmes and Executive MBAs. It was piloting an innovative leadership learning intervention (co-constructed coaching – the subject of an earlier paper in Management Learning by Steve and myself) with this latter population that triggered the insights underpinning this paper. Specifically, we realised that adopting a reflexive pedagogy had implications for us as ‘teachers’ as well as for our students. This was not the direction we intended the paper to go, but it really hit us as something important and not well understood in the literature. The idea of ‘identity undoing’, which Brigid had already developed, seemed key to our own experiences and offered a valuable framework for processing and theorizing them.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

A significant challenge in conducting this research was the autoethnographic element – which was not part of the original design but still needed to be methodologically robust. Our original intention had been to validate the idea of co-constructed coaching as a leadership learning intervention, which we had previously proposed. An early draft of the paper, pursuing this intent, happened to mention our own experience of implementing this intervention and our reviewers picked up on this as being interesting. This led Steve and I to home in on this previously marginal aspect of the project and to bring Brigid in as an ‘independent witness’ to our reflections on what it felt like to adopt a reflexive pedagogy. Brigid did a great job of ‘interrogating’ and then narrating key elements of this experience, which we were then able to theorize in relation to identity undoing and issues of power.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

In undertaking this analysis, we problematize the pursuit of a reflexive pedagogical practice within executive and postgraduate education and offer a paradox: the desire to engage students in reflexive learning interventions – and in particular to disrupt the power asymmetries and hierarchical dependencies of more traditional educator-student relationships – can in practice have the effect of highlighting those very asymmetries and dependencies. Successful resolution of such a paradox becomes dependent on the capacity of educators to undo their own reliance on and even desire for authority underpinned by a sense of theory-based expertise. We belief this insight – as well as the innovative use of autoethnographic methods to turn a critically reflexive lens upon academic teaching – will provide food for thought (and for further research) across a wide range of academic disciplines. With the introduction in the UK of the Teaching Excellence Framework, now seems to be a fitting time to review what it means to be an ‘expert’ teacher.

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Getting to Know Your Students and an Educational Ethic of Care

[We’re pleased to welcome author Thomas F. Hawk of Frostburg State University. Hawk recently published an article in the Journal of Management Education entitled, “Getting to Know Your Students and an Educational Ethic of Care,” that is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Hawk shares background and motivation for pursuing this research:]

A sabbatical in 1996 that focused on critical thinking led me to discover the Philosophy of Education Society and the idea of an ethic of care. The more I explored the ethic of care literature, the more it resonated with me and gave me a vocabulary and a philosophical frame for describing and discussing my fundamental processes of facilitating the deep learning of my students. That journey of exploration continues to the present even though I retired from the university in 2009.

In 2003, a student who appeared to be struggling in my MBA capstone strategy course sent me an email asking me not to “give up on her” as she had some learning challenges that held her back from actively contributing to the case discussions. But she also complimented me on the caring and skillful ways in which I focused on my students’ learning development, provided extensive developmental feedback, and continually tried to get my students involved in the discussions. That email triggered a set of questions in my mind that led to the 2008 JME article, “Please Don’t Give Up on Me: When Faculty Fail to Care.” As I understand it, that was the first full length article in JME to address an ethic of care.JME_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpg

As my journey into an ethic of care continued, I did research on the extent to which business ethics textbooks and journals addressed the issue of an ethic of care as an alternative ethical framework to the traditional ethical frameworks of virtue, deontological, utilitarian, and justice ethics. That research revealed an almost total absence of a consideration of an ethic care in business ethics textbooks and only a few articles on an ethic of care in the primary business ethics journals. I also became aware of the significant differences in the ontological/metaphysical assumptions made by the rationalistic and abstract universalistic individualism of traditional ethical frameworks and the relational, concrete, uniqueness of each situation that characterizes an ethic of care and its central focus on the well-being of the parties to the relationship and the relationship itself.

Chory & Offstein’s 2017 JME article (41-1), “Your Professor Will Know You as a Person: Evaluating and Rethinking the Relational Boundaries between Faculty and Students,” prompted me to write, “Getting to Know Your Students and an Educational Ethic of Care.” That article reflects my current exploration of the congruence among an ethic of care, Alfred North Whitehead’s process philosophy and process ethics, and a process perspective on teaching and learning (see Whitehead, 1929, and Oliver & Gersham, 1989, cited in the article). I now see an ethic of care as a way of being in the world, not just as an alternative ethical framework. But in the educational domain, the most important scholarly work I have read over the last year is: Alhadeff-Jones, M. (2017). Time and the Rhythms of Emancipatory Education: Rethinking the Temporal Complexity of Self and Society. New York: Routledge.
Enjoy the reading.

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Webinar Highlights: Presenting Data Effectively

[The following post is re-blogged from Social Science Space. Click here to view the original article.]


Crystal clear graphs, slides, and reports are valuable – they save an audience’s mental energies, keep a reader engaged, and make you look smart. This webinar held on June 6, 2017, covers the science behind presenting data effectively and will leave viewers with direct, pointed changes that can be immediately administered to significantly increase impact. Guest Stephanie Evergreen also addresses principles of data visualization, report, and slideshow design that support legibility, comprehension, and stick our information in our audience’s brains.

Evergreen’s presentation was followed by an audience question-and-answer session, which is included in the recording. Not all the questions were answered at the time, and Evergreen answers some additional session questions below.

Evergreen is an internationally recognized speaker, designer, and researcher best known for bringing a research-based approach to better communicate through more effective graphs, slides, and reports. She holds a PhD from Western Michigan University in interdisciplinary evaluation, which included a dissertation on the extent of graphic design use in written research reporting. Evergreen has trained researchers worldwide through keynote presentations and workshops, for clients including Time, Verizon, Head Start, American Institutes for Research, Rockefeller Foundation, Brookings Institute, and the United Nations. She is the 2015 recipient of the American Evaluation Association’s Guttentag award, given for notable accomplishments early in a career.

She is co-editor and co-author of two issues of New Directions for Evaluation on data visualization. She writes a popular blog on data presentation at StephanieEvergreen.com. Her books SAGE Publishing books Presenting Data Effectively and Effective Data Visualization both reached No. 1 on Amazon bestseller lists. A second edition of Presenting Data Effectively was published in May.

  1. When is it best to place the data information (e.g. 20 percent) on a bar or lollipop vs. using a scale on the side or bottom of a chart?

If people will want to know the exact value, add the data label. If the overall pattern of the data and estimated values are sufficient, use a scale. But don’t use both – that’s redundant.

  1. How do your clients and colleagues respond to the ‘flipped report,’ in which research findings and conclusions are presented before the discussion, literature, methodology, and background sections?

With a “duh” as in “Why haven’t I thought of that before”? Generally, clients appreciate how a flipped report values their time. On occasion, you and I will find audiences who really bristle at the idea, usually people steeped in the academic culture, so check first if a flipped report structure would be okay.

  1. Any tips for the converted about changing resistant organizational culture to data visualization? “You need to use our template!”

Culture change is slow, so the first tip is to be patient. After that, try remaking one of your own old (bad) slides or graphs to show what an overall would look like. See if you can get a friendly client or customer you know to give you feedback on it. Then report on the redesign and the feedback to others in your organization. Try getting someone from senior management on board. Leave a copy of my book in their mailbox or in the break room. And hang in there.

  1. How do we report small numbers? Without percentages?

I would report small numbers as raw numbers, not percentages. Try an icon array for a visual.

  1. Where is the best place to get report templates?

In your imagination! Any report template is going to look like a report template, not like something that fits your own work. Look around for inspiration, for sure, like on my Pinterest boards, but create your own style that fits you and your work.

  1. What program do you use to create dashboards or infographics? We’ve used Piktocharts…. are there others?

I work within the Microsoft Office suite. I make dashboards in Excel and infographics in PowerPoint. This way I have total control over the design and everyone on my team can make edits. A quick Google search of either dashboard or infographic programs will give you hundreds of choices you could work with. If you want something from that list, look for maximum flexibility, low learning curve, and reasonable expense.

  1. Each chart can have multiple findings; are we skewing the results when we highlight certain findings over others using color and data?

“Skewing” sounds like we are manipulating, but that’s not the case. Using color to highlight a certain part of the graph still leaves the rest of the graph completely intact and able to be seen. Adding color does, however, reflect an interpretation we have made of the data. But that isn’t “skewing” – it’s telling people our point and that’s why they are listening to us in the first place.

  1. Can you please explain the difference between your two books? Thanks!

Sure! Effective Data Visualization walks you through how to choose the right chart type and then how to make it in Excel. Presenting Data Effectively talks about formatting graphs well with consideration of text and color and broadens that discussion to address dashboards, slides, handouts, and reports.

  1. One challenge I face is presenting nuanced findings in an accessible way. For example, when there are limitations to the data or subgroups that need to be acknowledged or findings need to be interpreted with caution. As a researcher, it worries me that the client might put tentative findings “out there”, misrepresenting them (to a degree).

This makes your title and subtitle ever more important. Be very clear in your wording that the findings are limited. You can also add things like confidence intervals to your graph if you are confident that the reader will know how to interpret them. If it is still going to be a concern, don’t make a graph of the data. People are drawn to graphs because we look at pictures so don’t put the data in a picture if you are worried people won’t read the nuanced narrative.

Journal of Management Education Special Issue: Behavioral Ethics

JME_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgThe August 2017 Special Issue of the Journal of Management Education is now online! The eight new articles in this issue cover specific key topics including but not limited to moral awareness, cognitive biases, student self-assessment, and thoughtful decision making in an educational setting. Guest editors Jacob Park of Green Mountain College and Priscilla Elsass of Clark University help summarize the need for behavioral ethics research in pedagogy in their Editor’s Corner piece entitled “Behavioral Ethics and the New Landscape in Ethics Pedagogy in Management Education.” Below is an excerpt from their introduction:

Recent developments in the field of behavioral ethics, defined as “a field that seeks to understand how people actually behave when confronted with ethical dilemmas” (Bazerman & Tenbrunsel, 2011, p. 4), opens up the possibilities of teaching and studying ethics in new ways. Behavioral ethics research suggests that people are prone to predictable ethical lapses due to psychosocial and organizational influences, power differentials, and cultural practices (e.g., clan and in-group favoritism). For those who teach business ethics, a behavioral ethics perspective presents new challenges, including the need to develop students’ moral awareness, and their ability to recognize and effectively respond to both personal and organizational ethical dilemmas….Clearly, there is an urgent need to consider how ethics curricula and pedagogies may provide more effective approaches to understanding—before, during, and after—ethical lapses in this era of cross-cultural and global business enterprises with varied forms of institutional governance and corporate values.

Click here to continue reading the full introduction to the special issue. Visit the JME homepage to sign up for email alerts so you stay current with the latest management research!

Are We Teaching What Employers Want?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Ellen McArthur of Griffith University, who recently published an article in the Journal of Marketing Education entitled, “The Employers’ View of “Work-Ready” Graduates: A Study of Advertisements for Marketing Jobs in Australia.” The article is co-authored by Krzysztof Kubacki, Bo Pang, and Celeste Alcaraz, also of Griffith University. Below, McArthur discusses key findings of the study:]

Innovative research by Griffith University into graduate job advertisements in Australia shows employers value the personal traits of job candidates more highly than degree qualifications. The study, which is the largest of its kind into graduate jobs in marketing, raises questions about the purpose of a degree, and whether universities are preparing students to be “work-ready”.

While the study focussed on marketing jobs, the findings have relevance for all academic disciplines. The most frequently required attributes were “soft skills” that are not specific to marketing, including motivation, time management, attention to detail, and teamwork. Superior communication skill, particularly writing talent, was also highly demanded, and it was only after the calls for these generic abilities that occupation-specific skills began to rank.

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Among occupation-specific abilities, digital marketing was the most needed, including search engine optimisation, Google Analytics, AdWords, and creating and curating social media content for a range of platforms. Other demanded skills included project management, marketing communications, sales, and customer service and customer relationship management (CRM).

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Some 48.5% of ads called for applicants with experience. This significant figure suggests the need for far greater integration of undergraduate study with initiatives that deliver hands-on practice, including internships, work integrated learning, and practice-based assessments.

General IT skills and a high level of computer literacy are important pre-requisites for applying for marketing positions. Experience in MS Office, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, was specified in almost one in three ads, followed by Adobe Suite, InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. Though students may use these programs ad hoc, such strong demand suggests the need to embed this software use into courses as explicit learning outcomes.

A marketing degree specifically was required in only half the sample of advertisements, with communication, psychology, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics also providing pathways into marketing roles. This reflects the cross-disciplinary nature of marketing careers in the twenty-first century.

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The Employers’ View of “Work-Ready” Graduates: A Study of Advertisements for Marketing Jobs in Australia’, content analysed 359 graduate advertisements (83,000 words) for careers in marketing posted on Australia’s top jobs website in a six-month period in 2016. Full time employment rates for Australian graduates have dropped to new lows, and the research aimed to identify the specific skills and attributes demanded by employers for graduate level jobs in marketing.

The study won a Best Paper Award at ANZMAC in 2016. Click here to read the full article for a limited time.

Griffith University is based in South-east Queensland, Australia, and ranks in the top 3% of universities globally, with more than 50,000 students across five campuses.

Dr. Ellen McArthur, who led the research project, said “large samples of job advertisements are perhaps the most valid way to study employers’ needs, but they are rarely used for employability research.”

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Journal of Management Education’s 2016 Award-Winning Article

On behalf of the Journal of Management Education, SAGE Publishing would like to congratulate co-authors Richard J. Miller and Rosemary Maellaro, both of the University of Dallas, for winning the Fritz Roethlisberger Award for 2016 for their article, “Getting to the JME_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgRoot of the Problem in Experiential Learning: Using Problem Solving and Collective Reflection to Improve Learning Outcomes,” which can be found in the April 2016 issue of JME. The award’s criteria include scholarly grounding, expected longevity, potential impact, and potential to reach across disciplines.

The article is currently free to read for a limited time.

The abstract for the article is below:

Experiential learning alone does not guarantee that students will accurately conceptualize content, or meet course outcomes in subsequent active experimentation stages. In an effort to more effectively meet learning objectives, the experiential learning cycle was modified with a unique combination of the 5 Whys root cause problem-solving tool and a collective reflection step. Applying these modifications through multiple iterations of in-class exercises, students in lean operations and leadership courses were able to move beyond treating symptoms of problems and generate more viable alternative actions for future applications of their learning. Improved grades, greater achievement of learning objectives, and positive student reactions provide evidence of the modified experiential learning cycle’s success. A generalized framework for using the modified learning cycle in other management courses is also presented.

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Holocaust Education and Its Effect on UNESCO Policy Guides

Holocaust education- working towards cultivating global citizenship, promoting human rights, and developing a culture of peace and prevention of genocide

cme1.pngThe Holocaust as a topic of study is present to varying degrees in a substantial number of countries, notably European, as well as countries where victims of the Holocaust have sought refuge and others not directly affected.  A recent study by UNESCO and the Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research found that at least 65 countries specifically mention the genocide of Jews and other crimes perpetrated by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, in their secondary schools’ social sciences and history curricula. An additional 46 countries provide context (the Second World War and National Socialism) in which the Holocaust can be taught. Teaching about the Holocaust is encouraged by the United Nations, which emphasizes its historical significance and the importance of teaching this event as a fundamental consideration pertaining to the prevention of genocide.

Inspired by the Conference for International Holocaust Education organized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in collaboration with the UNESCO in Washington, D.C., a distinguished journal ‘Contemporary Review of the Middle East by SAGE Publications has come out with a special issue on Holocaust Education. The issue aims to strengthen the history of Holocaust and the genocide through pedagogical means. It has contributions from most of the attendees of this conference. With contributions from eclectic mix of scholars, the issue emphasizes on the fact that Holocaust is not an exclusive Jewish, European, or Christian tragedy but a human calamity. This universal message cannot be understood by ‘uniquefing’ the Holocaust. Despite its unparalleled character and magnitude, its understanding cannot be done in isolation.

Supporting the effort to inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust and to prevent future genocides, UNESCO has created an educational programme dedicated to the history of Holocaust. To support this effort, it has recently laid down a policy guide for policy-makers who seek to implement or substantiate the study of the Holocaust within their education systems and, more broadly, the study of genocide and mass atrocities. It describes how and why teaching and learning about the Holocaust can support global policy priorities through education, including cultivating global citizenship, promoting human rights, and developing a culture of peace and prevention of genocide. Articles from the issue on Holocaust education from the journal ‘Contemporary review of the Middle East’ have been taken as one of the references for drafting this document. The articles focus essentially on education about the Holocaust and the decades of research, resources and pedagogical practices demonstrating its effectiveness. Thorough guidance is provided for setting clear, realistic and context-specific learning objectives that promote quality education on the occurrences and history of Holocaust.

The special issue is currently free to read for a limited time.

About the Journal:

Contemporary Review of the Middle East, peer-reviewed flagship journal from the Middle East Institute, New Delhi seeks to publish original research articles that analyse contemporary Middle Eastern developments in the fields of security, politics, economy and culture. Though the Journal’s primary focus would be on contemporary developments, it would consider persuasive contributions on the region’s contemporary diplomatic and international histories that have evident bearings on the present.

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