In Transition … the road ahead

In Transition … the road ahead

The PIDP is just the latest progression in my lengthy ongoing professional and personal development plan. My profession has had requirements for formal educational and personal development mandated for years. Earning my professional designation had a requirement for career progression and work experience in more senior positions. Throughout my career I had personal objectives that included taking relevant courses and training in parallel with the required professional development. About 3 years ago I started working on a plan to transition to a new career as a post-secondary instructor or business trainer to leverage my work experience and joined VCC’s PID program. To gain hands-on related experience I joined the mentorship program at work to act as a mentor for new managers and I volunteered with the CPA Financial Literacy program to lead seminars on personal financial management practices.

My goal is to use my experience as a professional finance manager to move into instructing or training as a way to ‘pay-it-forward’ to new entrants in the field. I have coached, trained, mentored and developed individuals in a business environment for years and I chose to take the PIDP to formally learn and strengthen my knowledge, skills and abilities in this area. This was the opportunity to learn all the foundational and detailed things about teaching adults. I took a 1-day adult education course years ago when I started teaching night school but the world of pedagogy has evolved and grown exponentially since then. Taking the PID program now has given me the legitimacy to apply with educational institutions for positions as an instructor.

Adult education has changed most dramatically with the widespread introduction of technology and online learning tools. My 3-year journey with the PID program is coming to a close and I have the opportunity to apply what I’ve learned in a real world as a part-time college instructor starting in September. I expect the learning curve to be very steep and the transition may to be a bit wobbly as I muddle through and experience real time the many concepts I’ve studied. The adult student and his/her expectations will be challenging but the PIDP has provided information and the opportunity to reflect on how to work through however this manifests itself. I’ve changed jobs, employers, roles and responsibilities several times over my career and becoming an instructor will be a big change but I’ve added a lot of tools to my toolbox as I’ve gone along and expect to continue to learn and adapt. I will continue as a lifelong learner with professional development requirements for both my designation and my role as a post-secondary educator. I plan to still be teaching in 5 years but if it doesn’t work out or something else comes up I am prepared to deal with that too.

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Why lecture? Lecturing Creatively…

Why lecture? Lecturing Creatively…

Brookfield opens Chapter 6, Lecturing Creatively, with a discussion of two alternative methods of teaching, lectures and discussion methods, and whether the two are mutually exclusive or should be seen as symbiotic. Brookfield is a proponent of the discussion method but acknowledges that lectures have a place and that “the challenge is to make lectures as helpful, enlivening, and critically stimulating as possible” (p 70).

Basically, the message is lecture if you must but if you must lecture, then like any teaching approach, be clear to yourself and your students exactly what the lecture is intended to achieve (p 73). The rest of the chapter provides a mix of recommendations or best practices to make the lectures “helpful” and they are all practical. In earlier PIDP courses and even in 3260, the research materials I have reviewed stress many of these same concepts. Being organized and clearly communicating the where, when and why at the start of the course and each lecture can’t be anything but positive. Breaking lectures into short time chunks and interlacing the session with a variety of active learning activities is a practice widely recommended. The variety of other recommendations are also sound ideas that can be easily incorporated in any method of teaching including lectures.

My takeaway, in the ever changing educational landscape, with flipped classrooms, hybrid and online learning, is that a lecture, even if it is only brief and for a specific purpose, may be the appropriate methodology in a given situation. Brookfield discusses the potential rationales for using a lecture on pages 71 to 72.  In my own experience as a learner in discussion or seminar classes, I have observed the instructor or facilitator make a brief in-class switch to the lecture method effectively where he or she has heard or identified a common misconception or theme in the class. The quick fix employed to address this situation is to use a brief instructor-led mini-lecture to review the concept, alternatives and provide examples. This just-in-time reorientation, or reteaching, can bring the group discussions back on track or open them up to consider new or other alternatives.

In Chapter 2 of The Skillful Teacher, Brookfield states that great teaching is based on four key assumptions with the first being that skillful teaching is doing whatever helps students learn. If a teacher has an effective lecture methodology in their toolkit, and uses it judiciously, as and when required, then it should be able to be employed creatively to further the success of the learning outcomes.

Reference

Brookfield, S.D. (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust and Responsiveness in the Classroom, Third Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Post-secondary Accreditation in BC

Post-secondary Accreditation in BC

I taught Managerial Accounting for a couple years for the Society of Management Accountants as part of their internal education program for the CMA designation. As a professional body they were technically self-accredited. Courses at a number of post-secondary institutions (BCIT, public universities and colleges) were evaluated and given transfer credits for course exemptions into the CMA program as were courses from other accounting designation programs (CGA and CA). Over time most of the accounting professions have turned the bulk of their education over to public post-secondary institutions that grant accounting diplomas, certificates and degrees. They have kept control of the only final level courses to ensure the standards and content for their specific purposes.

What is Accreditation in Canada?

Canada does not have a national or regional accreditation system for post-secondary institutions. In Canada, post-secondary education falls under provincial, rather than national, jurisdiction.Therefore, except in some limited circumstances, the term “accredited” is not used for provincially authorized or recognized institutions.

What is Accreditation in BC?

British Columbia’s public universities, public colleges and three public institutes were established and are authorized under provincial legislation. British Columbia’s post-secondary education system includes 25 publicly funded institutions, 17 private and out-of-province public academic degree-granting institutions, 16 theological institutions, and a wide range of career and language training institutions. Private career training institutions are overseen by the Private Training Institutions Branch under the Private Training Act.  There are approximately 320 registered private career training institutions in British Columbia, of which almost 160 are accredited.

In BC, the use of the word “accredited” is limited to:

  • Programs in British Columbia institutions that have been accredited by professional accrediting or licensing associations. For example, Douglas College is accredited by CPA Canada for the Advanced Certificate in Accounting and Finance (ACAF) program’s designated courses. Successful completion of the required courses enables students to write the ACAF National Examination offered by CPA Canada.
  • Private institutions that have successfully undergone the voluntary certification process of the Private Training Institutions Branch (PTIB) of the BC Ministry of Advanced Education which administers the Private Training Act and associated regulations.

Accreditation does not imply or guarantee that courses or programs taken at these institutions will be recognized for transfer credit at any of the public post-secondary institutions.  The BC Transfer System is administered by the BC Council on Admissions & Transfer (BCCAT).

Losing Accreditation

When a school or program is in violation of the standards of the accrediting agency, the agency will generally put the school on probation for a warning period to allow the school to rectify the identified issues. If the violations are severe enough or the school on probation is unsuccessful they can lose their accreditation standing.

Factors that can cause a school to be on probation or lose accreditation beyond poor quality of education provided include: too few faculty members for the size of the program’s student body, inappropriate relations between faculty and student members, or instructors without the necessary educational backgrounds for the program(s).

My search of schools or programs losing accreditation or going on probation were programs within schools that were certified or accredited by an external agency, usually in health care for specialized technologist programs. For private institutions they generally lose their provincial license over educational quality concerns or lack of qualified educators for the programs being offered.

Impact of Losing Accreditation

It’s not illegal for a private school to operate without institutional accreditation so the school may continue to enroll students. The school will no longer be eligible to participate in federal and provincial student financial assistant programs. The school could close. The biggest concern, for students, would be that the courses might not be eligible for transfer to other post-secondary institutions or programs with accrediting agencies.

References

British Columbia Council on Admissions & Transfer (No Date).  BC Post Secondary System. Vancouver, BC

http://www.bccat.ca/system/psec

The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC) (No Date). Learn about the education system in the province of British Columbia, Canada! Toronto, ON

https://www.cicic.ca/1155/postsecondary_education_in_british_columbia.canada

OnlineCourses.net (May 2018). Accreditation. What Happens if my School Loses Accreditation?

http://www.onlinecourses.net/losing-accreditation.html

Student Resistance = Fear of Change

Student Resistance = Fear of Change

Brookfield’s The Skillful Teacher (2015) covers student resistance to learning and his recommendations to overcome that resistance in Chapters 16 and 17. Brookfield states that he’s spent more time trying to understand student resistance than any other facet of teaching. If you Google resistance to learning or a similar topic on the same theme there are any number of articles on the subject. There are also many articles on how to deal with this issue, 5 ways, 7 ways, 11 Tips, etc. The major insight has to do with defining learning as involving change and it is in reality a change process. Dealing with change is difficult. Learning that challenges or presents alternatives to existing attitudes and belief is going to be met with resistance, intentional or unintentional, as this type of change takes time and reflection to move from awareness to acceptance. Adult learners, by definition, are supposed to be internally motivated, ready to learn, goal oriented, autonomous and self-directed. Why then are there issues and articles about student resistance and lack of engagement? Why do Brookfield and other teachers demonstrate so much angst on the subject? Brookfield and the on-line articles list a plethora of causes for student resistance, giving consideration to the variety and diversity of students and their reason(s) for taking a particular course. In conversations with other adult educators, there is this dichotomy with how an adult learner is defined and how some behave.

Bryson wrote a guide on engaging adult student learners that acknowledges that students have anxieties, fears and concerns. Bryson refers to them as barriers to learning and proposes using a set of structured teaching practices to overcome these barriers and engage students to in the learning process to achieve successful outcomes. Palis and Quiros wrote an article in 2014 that gets down to specific practices to improve student outcomes. They included recommendations for the lecture, PowerPoint slides and classroom materials. They suggest chunking content delivery into short durations, linking the knowledge to the student’s prior experience with examples, and effectively structuring the lecture. Both these references, Bryson and Palis/Quiros are focused on the teacher/instructor leading the learning process with clarity, fairness, and relevance and making the process interesting and supportive.

As an instructor, having an approach and structured practices that focus on creating a positive learning environment that covers the learning objectives seems like a reasonable proactive way to mitigate student learning resistance issues. The amount of material and the variability of approaches in publication on this subject indicates that there will be some trial and error forthcoming.

‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’ – the oldest English proverb still in regular use today.

References

Brookfield, S.D. (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust and Responsiveness in the Classroom, Third Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Bryson, J.D. (Summer 2013). Engaging Adult Learners: Philosophy, Principles and Practices. Barrie, ON: James David Bryson. Retrieved from Northern College, Timmins, ON:

http://northernc.on.ca/leid/docs/engagingadultlearners.pdf

Palis, A.G. and Quiros P.A. (2014).  Adult Learning Principles and Presentation Pearls.  Middle East Afr J Ophthalmol. 2014 Apr-Jun; 21(2): 114–122. doi: 10.4103/0974-9233.129748. PMCID: PMC4005174

Retrieved from:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4005174/

 

Power and Responsibility

Power and Responsibility

Having positional power implies responsibility for its usage and Brookfield discusses this topic in Chapter 18 of The Skillful Teacher (2015). For a teacher, a manager, an official or in other decision-making or supervisory positions there is authoritative power inherent in the position. The recognition and acknowledgement of power is often subtle but my experience is that in our society, employees, students, and the public generally understand the power dynamics that exist with authoritarian roles.  Weimer (2009) discusses five different theoretical sources of power. Legitimate power is the authoritative or positional power of the position or role as in a teacher/instructor. The nature of this role also provides two additional powers, those of reward and punishment (coercive power). Teachers possess expert power based on their knowledge, skills and experience relative to the subject or material being taught. A final type of power that can exist for teachers is referent power, where students respect and have a positive regard for the teacher. The balance of power is weighted very highly for the teacher/instructor. Brookfield suggests acknowledging the positional power that exists and then taking steps to exercise those powers properly by being transparent, consistently fair and responsive to student feedback on how the learning process is being experienced. Having clear learning objectives, a structured instructional practices and criterion-based assessment reduces some of the more potentially negative power dynamics.

References

Brookfield, S.D. (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust and Responsiveness in the Classroom, Third Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Weimer, M.  (DECEMBER 22ND, 2009). Different Sources of Power that Affect the Teacher-Student Relationship. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from:

https://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/different-sources-of-power-that-affect-the-teacher-student-relationship/

Multilayered complexity of adult teaching (truths and limitations)

Multilayered complexity of adult teaching (truths and limitations)

I am recording some thoughts on Chapter 1, Experiencing Teaching, of Brookfield’s The Skillful Teacher (2015) and the multilayered complexity of adult teaching. I enrolled in university at UBC 4 decades ago and through earning two degrees, a subsequent professional designation and a variety of business training and professional development I have attended classes with over 50 different instructors or educators. Much of the course content is a faded memory but I can clearly remember the handful of truly great performers that I have had the pleasure of being taught by. What worked for them was somewhat unique to each of them as individuals. However, due to my interest in teaching I consciously paid attention to the process and practices they employed to add to my own toolbox. As these instructors navigated the chaos they did so with a calming confidence, and when the unexpected happened, they recovered and got back on track with a minimum of disruption. Their prior teaching experience was part of their success but I think having a good understanding of the truths of teaching Brookfield lists on pages 9 and 10 is equally important. Accepting these truths provides a realistic outlook on what you can do, lets you manage your own expectations and accept you can only do your best, be reflective on what happened and adjust as necessary going forward to keep those plates spinning.

 

3260 Professional Practice Intro

I have been teaching or training for over 30 years so enough with the practicing, I enrolled in the PIDP program to find out all the things I should know and should have known all along. Adult education has changed dramatically over my time as a student and instructor/trainer/mentor and even more so recently with the influx of technology. My goal is to leverage my academic and professional experience and “pay it forward” as an instructor by passing along what I’ve learned and experienced in my career, sometimes the hard way, to the new and future finance and management practitioners. A good way to learn is from making mistakes, my belief is that it’s even better to learn is from someone else’s mistakes or experiences and avoid the emotional, personal and professional repercussions.

Please click on the blog’s Menu button to access my bio. Scroll down to view my past submissions on 3100 and 3250 if you get a chance. Enjoy.