U21 FINE Events

We welcome all U21 postgraduate and Early Career Researchers to join us for our flagship events. We will be offering three opportunities to connect with U21 FINE members. The main event is our FINE forum. Participants will hear from an international panel of presenters on various topics related to the forum theme

 

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FINE @ ECER 2018

FINE at ECER 2018, Bolzano

Join us for a networking breakfast at the 2018 European Conference on Educational Research  (ECER) in Bolzano, Italy.

Building on the rich discussions at our flagship forum at AERA 2018 and taking inspiration from the ECER 2018 conference theme, the topic of this event is ‘The dreams, possibilities and necessities of inclusive research’. The aim is to enable postgraduate and early career researchers to consider the importance of social justice, equity and inclusion in the development of research, the researcher and the wider scholarly community.

This event will take the format of an informal panel presentation and discussion. A complimentary continental breakfast buffet will be provided.

Our esteemed guests from across the U21 network are:

Event details

Date: Wednesday 5 September 2018

Time: 07:30 am – 09:30 am

Venue: Four Points by Sheraton, Via Bruno Buozzi 35, 39100 Bolzano, Italy

Register here.

Download the FINE@ECER 2018 event flyer

This event is kindly sponsored by the University of Nottingham and the University of Edinburgh.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

Photo source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bolzano

Two Excellent Blog Posts from FINE Members: Reflections on the 2018 FINE Events in New York City

Neera R. Jain

University of Auckland

In line with the AERA 2018 conference theme, this year’s FINE Forum focused on the topic The dreams, possibilities, and necessities of teaching in higher education. Too often positioned as secondary to research, throughout the day we were encouraged to recast teaching as central to our roles as academics in education. As such, our work for the day was to engage in an exploration of how we teach, prioritize teaching, and talk about teaching in our academic careers. In this post I share three key points I took away from the Forum, and a provocation for academic leadership.

First, consider teaching and research as mutually constitutive. In a panel of U21 educational leaders, Associate Professor Susan Bridges (Assistant Dean, Curriculum Innovation, University of Hong Kong) and Professor Mark Beauchamp (Associate Dean, Research, University of British Columbia) discussed how they achieved this in differing ways. Dr. Bridges was able to apply her research knowledge in the area of pedagogy to a role at a Dental faculty (a completely different subject area) to reshape their problem-based learning curriculum. Dr. Beauchamp explained his approach to this aim: attract students to his research through his dynamic teaching style, then using group processes to develop research ideas. In effect, melding teaching, research mentorship, and doing actual research. As a burgeoning academic, I can see real benefits to these approaches—both in the opportunity to put research to work in real learning spaces, and to consider how to build synergy between teaching and research.

Second, teach like a troublemaker. In the same panel, Professor Andrew Noyes (Head of School, University of Nottingham) encouraged us to bring critical scholarship into the classroom to trouble students’ thinking as a way to develop their critical consciousness in/for a neoliberal world. He recommended contemplation of key questions in service of this goal: Whom do we teach? Why are we teaching them? What are we trying to achieve? How do you work with people “not like you” and those who may have different goals? He encouraged integrating scholarship into this contemplation, such as Bourdieu’s work on social reproduction in education. This advice resonated with my commitments to social justice in my research and professional life, and sparked my thinking about how I could put these commitments to work in the classroom setting.

Third, develop a compelling teaching philosophy. The second half of the day was devoted to the question “Who am I as a teacher?” We engaged in discussion and activity around developing a teaching philosophy to coalesce our understanding of what we do (or aim to do) when we teach. Essentially, a teaching philosophy is a 1-2 page first-person “self-portrait” of you as a teacher that is carefully tailored to the specific job you are applying to. Dr. Jennifer Tatebe, Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland and member of the FINE Leadership Team, encouraged us to consider a unique moment in our lives as teachers or learners that might exemplify how or why we teach the way we do, and how we might distinguish ourselves in writing that story. As a doctoral student who does not come from a teaching background, I recognized the process of developing the teaching philosophy as an important reflective exercise to think deeply about what I aim to do in teaching, what I am already doing that is working, and what areas of growth I might pursue while still on my doctoral journey and into an academic career.

Finally, a provocation for academic leaders in education: If we believe in the importance of teaching, how are you ensuring that it is a respected and nurtured aspect of academic work? How do you ensure doctoral students and early career researchers in particular have the opportunity and support to develop the necessary skills to become excellent teachers in the higher education setting? Rather than academics finding creative ways to make teaching count, how can this be structured into the way we do academia?

Thank you to the FINE leadership team for organizing an engaging and thought-provoking Forum, and for the U21 academic leaders who shared their experiences with us during the day and throughout the weekend.

In line with the AERA 2018 conference theme, this year’s FINE Forum focused on the topic The dreams, possibilities, and necessities of teaching in higher education. Too often positioned as secondary to research, throughout the day we were encouraged to recast teaching as central to our roles as academics in education. As such, our work for the day was to engage in an exploration of how we teach, prioritize teaching, and talk about teaching in our academic careers. In this post I share three key points I took away from the Forum, and a provocation for academic leadership.

First, consider teaching and research as mutually constitutive. In a panel of U21 educational leaders, Associate Professor Susan Bridges (Assistant Dean, Curriculum Innovation, University of Hong Kong) and Professor Mark Beauchamp (Associate Dean, Research, University of British Columbia) discussed how they achieved this in differing ways. Dr. Bridges was able to apply her research knowledge in the area of pedagogy to a role at a Dental faculty (a completely different subject area) to reshape their problem-based learning curriculum. Dr. Beauchamp explained his approach to this aim: attract students to his research through his dynamic teaching style, then using group processes to develop research ideas. In effect, melding teaching, research mentorship, and doing actual research. As a burgeoning academic, I can see real benefits to these approaches—both in the opportunity to put research to work in real learning spaces, and to consider how to build synergy between teaching and research.

Second, teach like a troublemaker. In the same panel, Professor Andrew Noyes (Head of School, University of Nottingham) encouraged us to bring critical scholarship into the classroom to trouble students’ thinking as a way to develop their critical consciousness in/for a neoliberal world. He recommended contemplation of key questions in service of this goal: Whom do we teach? Why are we teaching them? What are we trying to achieve? How do you work with people “not like you” and those who may have different goals? He encouraged integrating scholarship into this contemplation, such as Bourdieu’s work on social reproduction in education. This advice resonated with my commitments to social justice in my research and professional life, and sparked my thinking about how I could put these commitments to work in the classroom setting.

Third, develop a compelling teaching philosophy. The second half of the day was devoted to the question “Who am I as a teacher?” We engaged in discussion and activity around developing a teaching philosophy to coalesce our understanding of what we do (or aim to do) when we teach. Essentially, a teaching philosophy is a 1-2 page first-person “self-portrait” of you as a teacher that is carefully tailored to the specific job you are applying to. Dr. Jennifer Tatebe, Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland and member of the FINE Leadership Team, encouraged us to consider a unique moment in our lives as teachers or learners that might exemplify how or why we teach the way we do, and how we might distinguish ourselves in writing that story. As a doctoral student who does not come from a teaching background, I recognized the process of developing the teaching philosophy as an important reflective exercise to think deeply about what I aim to do in teaching, what I am already doing that is working, and what areas of growth I might pursue while still on my doctoral journey and into an academic career.

Finally, a provocation for academic leaders in education: If we believe in the importance of teaching, how are you ensuring that it is a respected and nurtured aspect of academic work? How do you ensure doctoral students and early career researchers in particular have the opportunity and support to develop the necessary skills to become excellent teachers in the higher education setting? Rather than academics finding creative ways to make teaching count, how can this be structured into the way we do academia?

Thank you to the FINE leadership team for organizing an engaging and thought-provoking Forum, and for the U21 academic leaders who shared their experiences with us during the day and throughout the weekend.

Tanya Lubicz-Nawrocka 

University of Edinburgh

I had a fantastic experience, representing Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh at the FINE meeting and events around the AERA conference in New York last month. It was an extremely valuable experience for networking, hearing interesting talks, and also gaining helpful tips to enhance the PhD experience. Several themes emerged throughout the FINE discussions, and below I share my reflections and the tips which were shared with me throughout the events. I hope you find them as helpful as I did.

Depth, breadth, and interdisciplinarity

It was highly recommended to have not just breadth but also depth in your work and, specifically, programmatic research that builds coherently and extends on previous work. Furthermore, reading outside of your subject area, engaging in interdisciplinary work, and taking risks by being open to different opportunities and interdisciplinary work was highly emphasised. For instance, Associate Professor Susan Bridges (Assistant Dean for Curriculum Innovation, University of Hong Kong) spoke about the value of making career choices based on what opportunities are most exciting or fun, and sometimes unexpected experiences or roles can have a massive, positive impact on your career and satisfaction of working in academia.

Although the AERA conference is focused on current educational research in the USA and attendees are therefore predominantly American, it was refreshing that the FINE meetings connected colleagues based at Universitas21 institutions around the world. The FINE sessions emphasised the fact that internationalisation is an opportunity and not an imposition, and underlined the importance of interdisciplinary work. Especially for those of us who are engaging in research on more controversial topics that unpick power dynamics (for example, my recent research article on challenging the status quo to embed partnership), it was reassuring that the established academics at the FINE meetings encouraged early career researchers to be true to their motivation for joining the academy. In this sense, networking and building relationships with colleagues was seen as a powerful way to break down barriers so that others may be more receptive to the more controversial aspects of our work.

Networking and collegiality: draw from the power of groups

The FINE Forum, joint symposia with the AERA Graduate Student Council, and the breakfast and reception events were great opportunities for networking with other PhD students from around the world as well as more experienced colleagues. I really enjoyed making new connections with researchers from the University of Auckland, University of British Columbia, University of Connecticut, and University of Nottingham, as well as reconnecting with a colleague from Hong Kong University.

While attending conferences, presenting your research and publishing, it was highly recommended that postgraduate and early career researchers take the opportunity to contribute to and learn from the academic community. This includes valuing feedback from peer reviewers and colleagues to help you improve your work. It also includes engaging in and drawing on the communities within our university departments.

Crafting your teaching identity

Gladis Kersaint (Dean of Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut) emphasised the importance of teaching in a scholar’s career. She noted that the focus tends to be on one’s research identity (which was a theme re-emerging throughout FINE events) but it is important to gain teaching experience (even if guest lecturing or teaching in other areas).

Later in the FINE meetings we learnt more from Alison Milner and Jennifer Tatebe (FINE Leadership Team Members) about how to articulate our teaching philosophy well to potential employers. They emphasised that the teaching philosophy statement is a self-reflective portrait of your teaching beliefs that demonstrates your key teaching experiences and shows understanding of your students. It is not only important for recruiters but also for your own professional development. It should include a few key teaching moments that illustrate your teaching philosophy, show synergies with your research, and – especially if being submitted with a job application – draw out synergies with the institution’s values and priorities.

Research for meaningful impact

Everyone focused on the importance of publishing to advance your career in academia and share your work. However, it is also important to have meaningful impact beyond academia by informing the public of your research and its implications. This includes sharing your work on Twitter, blogs such as this one, or newspapers. An example was that, for every journal article you publish, you should either write a blog post or opinion editorial piece to share your work more broadly.

Ways to ‘do it all’ – co-creation of research

Both Marc Beauchamp (Associate Dean of Research, University of British Columbia) and Andrew Noyes (Head of School of Education, University of Nottingham) shared insightful reflections about engaging in the co-creation of research with students. This is a topic near and dear to my heart since my PhD research focuses on student/staff partnerships in co-creating the higher education curriculum (for an overview if you are interested, see my three-minute thesis talk on my blog).

Marc spoke about ‘teaching like a rockstar’, by which he meant excellent student-centred teaching where faculty and tutors can work in partnership with undergraduate students to mentor them and involve them in their research. Andy emphasised ‘teaching like a troublemaker’, namely, not just focusing on efficient, ‘what works’ teaching methods, but developing students’ criticality. He suggested one way of doing this is to avoid dichotomising teaching and research and by engaging in research through teaching by involving students.

We discussed how there has been so little resolution in the teaching/research dichotomy in the last few generations so perhaps co-creation is a solution by involving students more in teaching decision-making and in research. In this regard, Rowena Arshad (Head of Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh) spoke powerfully about the importance of knowing and trusting our students, and the opportunities that co-creation can present when working in partnership with students.

Concluding remarks

The FINE meetings and events surrounding the AERA conference provided valuable panel discussions, networking opportunities, and food for thought. It was great to be part of the FINE collaborations with the AERA Graduate Student Council and to have the opportunity to attend such a wide range of conference sessions at AERA. I really enjoyed hearing tips from senior academics. It is therefore appropriate to end on their wise suggestions to firstly, own both the privilege and the responsibilities that come from being part of academia and, secondly, to enjoy the journey as an early career researcher by exploring and maintaining the feeling of excitement which resonates with our original motivations for doing a PhD.

AERA Graduate Student Council/ World Educational Research Association invitation to an international PGR/ECR reception

Postgraduate and early career researchers from within the U21 FINE network are invited to attend a reception co-hosted by the AERA Graduate Student Council (GSC) and the World Educational Research Association (WERA). This is a social networking event intended for international students and emerging scholars attending the AERA 2018 annual meeting.

Details of the event are as follows:

Date: Monday, April 16, 2018

Time: 4:05-5:35pm

Venue: Sheraton New York Times Square

AERA Graduate Student Council invitation to a PGR/ECR reception

Postgraduate and early career researchers from within the U21 FINE network are invited to attend a reception hosted by the AERA Graduate Student Council at the AERA 2018 Annual Meeting. This will be the signature social event of the AERA GSC and is an opportunity to network informally and celebrate your achievements with emerging scholars from across the globe.

Details of the event are as follows:

Date: Friday 13 April 2018

Time: 1:30pm to 3:00pm

Venue: Sheraton New York Times Square, Third Floor, New York Ballroom East, 811 7th Ave, New York

Please RSVP here and share the invitation with other professionals within your networks.

Regards

The U21 FINE Leadership Team

P.S. Don’t forget to take your business cards!

U21 FINE and AERA Graduate Student Council Collaboration @AERA 2018

The U21 Forum for International Networking in Education and the AERA Graduate Student Council will collaborate on a series of professional development symposia during the AERA 2018 Annual Meeting in New York. Each symposium panel will include a range of established scholars from across our global network. The sessions are scheduled as follows:

Saturday 14 April, 1415-1545, NY Hilton Midtown:

Human library panel session: Conversations on global and local educational topics

Saturday 14 April, 1605-1735, NY Hilton Midtown:

Re-examing the ‘market’: an international exploration of post-PhD career pathways

Monday 16 April, 1035-1205, NY Hilton Midtown:

What’s your story? International perspectives on building a compelling career narrative

These events are open to all postgraduate and early career researchers who are attending AERA 2018.

We hope to see you there!

The U21 FINE Leadership Team

 

Time to Share your Research – Presenting Your Research Findings to the (Academic) World!

So you’ve got a full draft of your thesis – congratulations! You’ve spent a few weeks teasing the words, rephrasing key sentences and rewording sub-headings to lead the reader through your all-important research story. What’s next? Depending on your university’s processes there might be a few more steps before you submit your manuscript. Perhaps you have to present to your supervisors, likely you’ll need to inform your department that you are close to submission, and there will certainly be more paperwork to complete at this stage.

Most doctoral candidates, though, will be required to present to the ‘academy’ of experts at your institution. In Australia, this is usually at an open forum to which your advisory panel and any other interested academics are invited. It might be called a Completion Seminar, an Examination Panel or perhaps a Viva. Whatever it’s called, you will need to prepare, and prepare well!

So what is this final, verbal presentation for? In the Australian context it’s held to celebrate your achievements and to review your progress. It’s one way that the academy can verify the quality and rigour of potential new members. Importantly, it’s also a place to share the findings of your unique research with a wider audience!

Preparing for this final seminar can be a peculiar challenge, not least because you will need to consider your varied audience – not only your academic support team, who are familiar with your work, but the other interested academics who have come along having read only a short blurb about your work. How do you ensure that you provide enough depth and breadth in your presentation?

In preparation for my Completion Seminar, I attended a number of others to gain some ideas, and having now completed mine successfully, I’m sharing the advice and ideas I received with you, to help as you enter the final stages of your Doctorate!

  • Start by considering your digital presentation. This doesn’t have to mean PowerPoint, although that seems to be the most used! Look at alternative ways of presenting your research story. You might use Prezi to present a non-linear story, or Zeetings to ask questions of your audience that you can then present in comparison to your data. Be clear about the tool you use and the reasons underpinning that choice so that it best meets the needs of your research story.
  • Next, consider the flow of your research. Often called the storyline or ‘thread’ this is what keeps people listening to you! Be sure to have clear connections between your rationale, your methodology, the research literature and your conclusions. You might have a number of themes or findings but remember your audience isn’t going to receive your entire thesis in this seminar – carefully frame your presentation to lead them through the main points of your research. This will lead them to see you as an academic who can coherently make sense of complex and challenging research topics.
  • Use images wherever possible. The most positive feedback I received was on my use of images and charts. These told the story of my research and connected ideas together, while I spoke about the meaning and ideas behind the on-screen images. Similarly in other Completion Seminars, I have seen tables and charts that were pulled apart and simplified just for this presentation. This drew the audience’s attention to key points and didn’t overwhelm them with text. Read about excellent presentation strategies online – there is now neurological research that can help and a number of books that present easy ways to make your presentation engaging, meaningful and memorable!
  • Finally, smile and celebrate! This is your time to share your research with the world! Yes, there might be a few questions that throw you through a loop, but reflect that your supervisors would not have let you get this far without believing you were ready. You are now the world expert on your niche research topic. Treat questions as invitations to inform others about the significance of your findings and, if in doubt, say ‘thank you, I will have to reflect on that further’ – and then move on!

Congratulations on getting to this stage of your Doctoral research. Plan now to celebrate, share your learning and start to think about next steps!

About the Author: Joanne Blannin is the Digital Learning Leader and an Educational Researcher at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne. She has recently completed her Doctorate investigating teacher’s choices to use, or not to use, digital technologies in primary school classrooms.

Time to tackle the culture question in PhD programs: Exploring the implicit ways that academic programs continue to promote academic career paths as most worthwhile

Article reposted with permission from author Angela Rooke. 

About the author: Angela Rooke is a manager of professional skills and postdoctoral affairs at University of Waterloo. She completed her PhD in history at York University in 2014.

 

My convocation ceremony was an intimate affair. I could even spot my family in the crowd. Though the audience was small, I was part of an unusually large group of history PhDs graduating that day. Fourteen were listed in the program, and about 10 attended the ceremony. Many of us were happy to be working in what some call an “alternative career.” Graduating with a PhD in history that day was an economic development consultant, a chef, a school professor, a magazine editor, and a co-founder of a community outreach organization in Toronto. I was lucky to have landed a job about two months prior to my defense, as a manager handling university graduate professional skills initiatives. It was energizing to reconnect with others, and to be back on campus to celebrate our cohort’s accomplishments. But it didn’t take long for the celebratory mood to dissipate.

After the ceremony, the history department staff had organized a lovely reception for the graduates and their families. Many of the faculty members in attendance were interested to hear what I was working on and how happy I was in my job. “I research, write, advocate, liaise, teach, debate, create and learn,” I told them. I explained how, unlike during grad school, I spend my hours outside work (exercising, watching television, reading fiction) without feeling guilty about not working. I shared stories of what it was like to work with and learn from a group of incredibly smart, passionate colleagues with a range of interesting experiences outside of academe. My friends swapped stories about their new careers and their career goals, too. It appeared to me that each one of us was successful, happy, and excited about what the future would bring.

As the reception was winding down, I noticed a faculty member speaking to my partner and parents. When I joined the conversation he congratulated me and caught me up on the conversation I’d missed: he had been explaining to my family how surprised “everyone” was that I had “given up.” It went without saying that he meant I gave up on pursuing a faculty career. In other words, he told my family− who drove two hours through Toronto’s rush hour, dressed up in nice clothes, and bought me over-priced flowers to celebrate my success − that I was a failure. Of course, he didn’t mean it that way; his comments were meant to be complimentary. I later learned that he also told my family that I was well-respected, smart and hard-working. He thought I really could have “made it”, if only I’d tried to make it – if only I hadn’t given up. I was hurt, but not surprised, by his comments.

I share this story not to embarrass the faculty member in question, but to highlight the challenges we continue to face in attempting to overcome the challenges of the Plan A perspective in PhD programs across the country. No substantive change will happen as long as students’ mentors continue to express the idea, either implicitly or explicitly, that a faculty career is the only truly valuable career for the best and brightest, that everything else is a Plan B, or a fallback.

I do not want to minimize the effort that universities, departments and faculties (in collaboration with career centres, graduate studies offices, and student support services) are making to tackle this challenge. But I do want to highlight that any resulting changes to policy, curricula, and resources are ultimately only half the battle. Just as important are the language, culture, and expectations that PhD students encounter on a daily basis during committee meetings, departmental social events and in casual conversation in the hallways.

Although it is much more acceptable today for graduate students to speak openly about their non-faculty career aspirations – and it has also become much less acceptable for faculty members to say (at least explicitly) that faculty careers are the only worthwhile ones for PhDs – Plan A culture is bolstered by much more implicit means. It is strengthened by the eye-roll that too often accompanies words such as skills and professionalization in the academic context. It is sustained by disparaging remarks about university administration, where many PhDs end up establishing a career. It is reinforced by talk about tenure as the only system under which innovative or impactful research can be conducted. It is powerful enough that the faculty member who told my family I gave up probably didn’t even realize how his remark could be taken as anything but a positive comment about my promise and capabilities.

Plan A culture is also reinforced by well-intentioned professors who consider themselves especially responsible advisers because they obligingly tell prospective PhD students that there are no jobs. Such statements are both false and irresponsible. There are lots of great jobs and (more importantly) great careers for PhD students; the problem stems from our failure to recognize how rewarding non-faculty careers can be for PhDs, and how much value PhDs can bring to diverse industries and sectors.

The good news is that PhDs have been successful in finding rewarding non-faculty careers in spite of these challenges (see recent studies by HEQCO and UBC). Without a doubt, many were inspired by alumni who volunteered their time to participate in panels on non-academic career themes. Many were counselled by career centre staff who taught them to recognize their skills and opportunities. The lucky ones may have even had some discussion about transferable skills and alternative-academic careers in their PhD seminars. But a very necessary next step is to tackle the academic culture that shapes students’ expectations, goals, and sense of self. So, I challenge graduate advisers, faculty and department chairs to consider the implicit ways they shape their students’ perceptions of success and failure. They need to tackle this challenge so that PhDs outside of academia can celebrate their successes without implicitly being told they’ve already failed.

Original article posted on February 15, 2018 on the University Affairs website: https://www.universityaffairs.ca/career-advice/responsibilities-may-include/time-tackle-culture-question-phd-programs/