Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Conceptions of doctoral supervision

At the last researchers' meeting, when Nigel Ford talked about supervisors, I mentioned a study of supervisors' conceptions of supervising. This is the reference:

Lee, A. (2008) “How are doctoral students supervised? Concepts of doctoral research supervision.” Studies in Higher Education, 33(3), 267-281. (there is an open access copy here: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/484/)

"The main concepts [of supervising] identified are: Functional: where the issue is one of project management; enculturation: where the student is encouraged to become a member of the disciplinary community; critical thinking: where the student is encouraged to question and analyse their work; emancipation: where the student is encouraged to question and develop themselves; and developing a quality relationship: where the student is enthused, inspired and cared for. Supervisors of doctoral students are also trying to reconcile the tensions between their professional role as an academic and their personal self as well as encouraging students to move a long a path towards increasing independence. The concepts are examined in the light of each of these tensions. Finally the research illuminates the power of the supervisor’s own experience as a student and the paper suggests that supervisors need to be aware of both the positive and negative aspects of each of these conceptual approaches."
I discussed this study when I gave a presentation on Information Literacy and the role of the supervisor: a supervisor's perspective. last May

On trust and assurance: Towards a risk mitigation normative framework for e-learning adoption in Portuguese Higher Education Institutions (by Jorge Tiago Martins)

My research is an inquiry into trust as the main leverage for academics’ appropriation of e-learning in Portuguese Higher Education Institutions (HEI). More specifically, I seek to inductively develop a substantive theory that explains the connections between academics’ perception-based micro-foundations of trust in e-learning, and the macro institutional arrangements and managerial calculability available or not to generate a relevant cognitive base and sufficient evidence of salient value, objective gains, recognition and reward.

At a more superficial and initial level, issues of trust in e-learning seem to imply academics’ varying acceptance of a perceived risk-laden technology; these acceptances having accumulated as a consequence of insufficient knowledge or technological background. Creating, upholding and maintain a favourable perception towards e-learning derives in these circumstances from both opportunistic and enthusiastic voluntary judgement: a leap of faith taken to reduce complexity, or informed by the immediate salient values of e-learning.  Such favourable perceptions are potentially eroded by scepticism or frustration experienced during use.  They may not be immediately or homogenously acknowledged by the academic staff.

However, when the appropriation of e-learning collides with issues of organisational and environmental fit, new dimensions of trust are manifested. Such collisions tend to occur at the level of career structure and rewards, academic recognition, and the scholarship of teaching, and are in tension with ingrained organising principles that are explicit frameworks affecting the establishment of favourable e-learning appropriation behaviour.
At the level of academics’ perception-based micro-foundations of trust, research results demonstrate how trust affects the resiliency or inertia of academics when endogenously or exogenously prompted to adopt e-learning. At the level of macro-institutional arrangements and managerial calculability, research results reveal the social motives driving academics to identify with e-learning – thus combining their efforts towards e-learning development.  The results demonstrate how trust relates to the management of identification and commitment, namely to the motivational dynamics of gains, value creation, recognition and reward.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Get a (second) life

Last month's discussion on Second Life led by Sheila and Ridvan raised some fascinating questions (and not just "Why would anyone want to do washing up in Second Life?").  Sheila, for example, compared meeting an academic colleague in Edinburgh with meetings with the same colleague in Second Life.

I'm sure studies are already being done on the matter, but I'd like to know what gets lost in Second Life meetings, and what is gained.  Sharing a physical space with someone obviously overcomes problems with different time zones, but how significant is it that the meeting occurs in an environment over which neither party has much control?  If one person wants a hot room and the other a cold room, this would be achievable in Second Life.

How sensitive are people about their avatars?  I presume that many features of an avatar can be changed.  If so, can they be discussed without embarrassment so that potential causes of distraction can be removed?  In real life, requests to modify distracting elements of behaviour or appearance are unlikely to be conducive to harmonious meetings.

The discussion at our next meeting (13 October) will be led by the legendary Nigel Ford, author of over 100 books and papers that bridge (or should that be Ford) the gaps between information studies, education, artificial intelligence, and probably lots of things of which I'm unaware.