Thursday, 7 May 2009

Seeking work

With the move to the UK, I am looking for work. Having been employed in both industry and academia over the last 34+ years, I am now more focused on being able to achieve specific goals rather than trying to develop a career. As a result I have some specific things that I would like to achieve. In times of recession, beggars can't be choosers but I figure that as I am looking forward to what I want to do beyond the next ten years of employment rather than simply picking up skills or ticking off performance counts.

So here are some of the things that I am looking at as I look for work. I would like to be able to:

  1. continue to pursue my computer science education research (see my thesis)
    1. continuing to explore practitioner conceptions, and
    2. applying what is discovered in planning and assessing teaching
  2. apply the scholarship of learning and teaching through the use of
    1. variation theory in planning, teaching, and assessing learning
    2. action research cycles, and
    3. space of learning analysis with respect to what is taught
  3. apply these concepts through the development of game / scenario-based learning environments
  4. research the space of learning in games

There are specific contexts in which I would like to pursue this research. These are in

  1. cooperative rather than competitive environment,
  2. an environment that fosters encouragement

I am keen to apply these in specific areas. The first is to continue with my work in computer science and with software development practitioners and learners. In this context, I would like to take my thesis research on to explore issues such as

  1. the relationship between the perceptions of a practitioner and the resulting code structures that they produce, and
  2. the implications of different perceptions on language usage and system architecture.

I am also interested in other areas of training such as training commissaires for cycling.

Despite the best efforts of management and some of my colleagues, I am not convinced that the performance measures used for research and teaching actually assess quality nor foster quality of performance.

Assessment of teaching has to relate to changes in the learner. Having the learners rate their lecturers isn't ensuring quality of learning. There is a saying “no pain, no gain.” In learning, often more can be learnt from failure than success. If as a teacher my performance is assessed based on learner feedback then failing a student is the last thing I want to do. It is like the assessment of education technology based on whether the learners liked it. They might have liked using it but did they learn what they were supposed to learn? Assessment of teaching or any learning environment has to relate to the learning that is occurring. Of course, we don;t want to offend the learners or cause them to drop out but for some it is going to have to get very uncomfortable before they will really begin to learn.

Likewise a measure of research performance based on research papers presented at a select group of conferences doesn't ensure quality research. Some areas of research are completely ignored by the ranking system or are seen as a dumping ground for experience papers. Unfortunately, computer science education or computing education research is these areas. The other issue that I have with the output count mentality is that it encourages lots of short term projects designed to produce rapid outputs or for researchers to use an onion skin approach to publishing. Some research takes time to complete with meaningful results. One that I am involved in has been running for at least five years. It took over a year before we managed to publish anything but no we have a steady flow of papers. For my thesis work, there has been very few papers so far partly because it has been rejected because reviewers wanted tips and techniques for teaching rather than genuine education research but that is another story.

As a consequence I am not interested in a job that has an emphasis on counting research outputs. I would much prefer to see my research being put to practical use improving learning and addressing areas of conflict.

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