Stage 1: My Goals for the next 6-18 months
My goal is to continue ongoing professional development following this subject with activities that will enhance my capacity as an educator, mentor and researcher in the field of adult education. My teaching and learning environment is predominantly online and my professional practice approach will continue to draw predominantly on constructivist learning and teaching principles. To achieve continual improvement of professional practices, a series of action-orientated activities will be initiated:
1. Completion of My GC Tertiary Teaching and Learning
i) EDU5173 (Assessment, Evaluation and Learning) is currently being completed and will help me to continue to design effective and meaningful instruments of measurement for assessment purposes. Better understanding of the links between assessment, evaluation and learning will enhance my capacity to create assessment for learning (Arnold & Ryan, 2003).
ii) EDU8406 (Theories for Learning Futures) commences in Semester 2 and will enable me to
draw on and enrich my understanding of contemporary learning and teaching theories presented in the current ED5702 and 5173 courses. A better understanding of how such theories and issues can influence student engagement and subsequent learning and workplace development (Biggs, 2001), and will enable my more thoughtful and student inclusive practices for curriculum design, delivery, assessment and evaluation (Ragan, 1998).
iii) EDU8702 (Scholarship in Higher Education: Reflection and Evaluation) is my Semester 3 course for my Certificate program in tertiary teaching and learning. This subject will provide a learning goal focus on my development in capacity for reflective practice, and self-evaluative responsive teaching grounded in theory (Brodie, 2005; Brookfield, 1995). As an action learning process this will also enable me as a tertiary educator to determine core elements to be included in a TCEP to ensure an ongoing cycle for improvement.
2. Online Programs to Utilise Online Teaching & Learning Resources
i) The website http://moodle.org/ provides a learning and teaching environment suited to online learning for adult students. It is a free web application available to teachers and students and free courses for using it as an educator and for learning in general, are available. It is an added ability to provide a blended learning experience (on and offline services) to local university students. A M4T (Moodle for Teachers) is run regularly by Integrating Technology,
...embraces a life long learning methodology where participants are responsible
for taking charge of their own learning (http://www.wiziq.com/IT4ALL).
These workshops will extend my exposure as a professional and enable more available access for tertiary students across the globe needing my tutor:mentor learning support option.
ii) Learning 4 Content online courses (http://wikieducator.org/Learning4Content/ Workshops/Online_schedule/eL4C31) are ongoing and provide educator instruction in wiki editing skills for professional development for teaching and learning; a collaborative learning community producing shared content and participation in Open Education Resources (OER) for tertiary contexts. Taking part in the workshops offered throughout the year will enable me to enhance my skills as an online educator and mentor for tertiary students.
3. Complete a Master of Learning and Development (MLAD) with a Research Focus
i) The postgraduate degree program at USQ will enhance the trisomony of professional practices I have set for myself within this TCEP (i.e., as a tutor, mentor and researcher). Evidence-based practices are critical in 21st century educational environments (Krotochwill, 2004). The integration of research into practice presents many challenges from a psychological and educational perspective. The flexibility of the program will allow me grow across both these fields.
Stage 2: Justification and Significance
The use of theory is critical for the professional tertiary teacher, as a guide to development planning, curriculum design, exploration of personal experiences as both learner and educator, and to optimise delivery, assessment and evaluation (Biggs, 2003). Overall, a constructivist approach guides my choices of capacity building milestones. Thus, the practice of third level teaching (Biggs, 2001), as exemplified by student-centred orientation (Dougiamas , 1998), their active engagement with relevant problem-solving tasks (Tsao, 2006), reflection in action (Yoong, 2002) and the cultivation of learning communities that are inclusive, collaborative and focused on learning (change) (Haark, nd; King, 2003), from the individual to wider community levels.
Theory can be used to guide organisation of materials that enable learning. For example, from a cognitive perspective, where a student is at initially (Saettler, 1990) will enable them to accommodate existing schema into new knowledge (Piaget, 1972), to scaffold on pre-existing experiences (Lev Vygotsky Archive, nd), or to flounder due to an inability to peg or anchor new information with existing schema. Content can be delivered so that knowledge builds on itself and provides a cognitive structure for the student to organise new data (which can be adapted to their personal learning style/s).
Also, theory can be used to identify and explain differences between people in learning (in the present case, between adults of different cultures, across university subjects and between myself and others in my profession). A difference between views of what is education, or teaching or “special exam circumstances” are popular contemporary theoretical debate topics in the education field. This TCEP sees the teaching role as one that enables and empowers students to achieve goals by providing a supportive learning environment (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). Personally also, I as a student will engage with tasks with the understanding that interaction, relevancy and group learning will aid my conceptualisation of a topic. Further, that I can draw on theory to determine inter-relationships between new knowledge and its application.
As my field of professionalism is educational psychology, it is necessary for me to be aware of discipline specific methods for planning, delivering, assessing and evaluating my educator practices (Sowey, 1995). This requires the demonstrated ability for critical self-reflection, as well as critical reading and thinking, research design and analysis and an understanding of the statistical analysis program SPSS, research report writing, poster presentations, familiarity of APA formatting and specific sub-discipline content, e.g., Lifespan Development, Environmental Psychology.
Within the disciplines of psychology and education there is a high expectation for evidence-based practices, publication of research, continuous professional development, policy and ethical standards transparency, fluidity and accountability (Guidelines for the Australian Undergraduate Psychology Program, 2008). This TCEP will enable development of my teaching capacities across the disciplines of psychology and education. Further, the Plan is structured to enable enrichment of my skills at research, particularly with regards to education program evaluation, which will be critical for me (and students) to see if deep learning has occurred and how to add depth to class materials.
Intrinsic (personal) factors that influence my TCEP are my passion for education, my alignment with a spiritual unity to life and a desire to learn in ways that allow me to contribute better to my community. A key extrinsic factor, given my living in a capitalist culture and urban environment, is money. Although I am able to trade my services for some of my household needs (fruit and vegetables, soil and plants, renovations), running water, electricity and internet access, rent and such like, requires cash or a BPay Account. As a home business operator (online tutor:mentor) this TCEP is incorporated into my business plan. Within 18 months I aim to reconstruct my Student Membership Site into a learning community portal which draws on archetypal theory to motivate, engage, support, challenge, and transform the tertiary learning experience (Jung, 1964; Myss, 2002).
Externally, the social state of this global village I am a member of drives me to use my opportunities to their full advantage, to share the learning I encounter, to contribute that enabling and empowering communities toward change (e.g., reconstruction of tertiary education, cultural transformation for gender equality --> less dominant model interpersonal relationships). Also, with my Masters in Education having a research portion I will be able to apply for PhD supervision (more research!) and then be able to apply for supervision registration. At such a point (next 5 years), I will be able to supervise fourth year and postgraduate research projects both online and by travel; particularly I would like to give university students at university in developing nations access to more supervision.
Following graduation I was a TA and casual lecturer in the discipline of psychology at James Cook University for one and a half years. Currently I use online classrooms at Blueteach, EduFire and WiziQ or online chat platforms such as Skype, to provide tutor:mentor support to social, health and business students across the globe. I have worked as an offline and online tutor for almost 5 years now. My background in psychology has enable me to provide critical emotional support and interventions to adult students who at times feel overwhelmed by the processes of critical thought and writing, familiarisation with the alternative and sometimes contradictory theories and models, and juggling a work-life-study balance.
Collaboration with communities of learners has been a key feature of my informal professional development efforts. Social networking groups have been extremely helpful in linking me to likeminded educators and students, as well as availing me to a wealth of ideas, methods, philosophies, cultures and personalities. In 2010 I launched a paid student membership site (The Study Club) on my blog. It is anticipated that the Club will enable students to develop their own international learning communities via a Discussion Board. Additional resources such as curriculum specific posts, podcasts and videos are also available to enhance their individual and team learning. Facilitating group work and motivating others to collaborate and contribute aligns with my Networker archetype (Myss, 2002).
As an undergraduate I was a research assistant for a number of projects and worked for two years as a field supervisor and data management officer on a project surveying visitors to various Wet Tropics areas. Post graduation, I supervised an 8 month fire management practices survey of large land owners across Queensland for the Cape York Peninsula Development Association (http://www.cypda.com.au/files/Rangelands_Survey.pdf). As a tutor:mentor I have helped to design research study projects for numerous 4th year and postgraduate student as well as offering more general services to other students; I help with literature research, structuring of writing, proofreading, questionnaire construction, and other research design and analysis. I am currently collecting survey data on; student satisfaction with PSI Tutor:Mentor services; student perceptions of confidence and competency with subjects recently completed at their university/college.
Practice in critical reflective writing was initiated at university as an undergraduate psychology student. My self-evaluative practices have continued post graduation by regularly writing for my blog. I expect to really enjoy the course Scholarship in Higher Education, as journaling (with a diary, blog or scrapbook) is a pillar of academic practice that I encourage (and model) for students to take up to fully engage in the learning experience. It is also essential that educators and researchers be able to critically reflect on their practices and cognitions to develop their professional capacities, as well as to be aware of their biases, strengths and challenges, and their moments of insight.