Facilitating reflection (a follow up from my previous post)

Following my post ‘COVID-19 and meaningful reflective practice’ two days ago, my colleague Pauline Ridley referred me to an interesting 2013 piece by John Cowan. Cowan notes that there are surprising few detailed accounted of how facilitators/ teachers support the and promote reflective practice. On one hand I am quite surprised by this given the widespread use of reflection in many disciplines/ professions (especially health sciences and education); however, I have been working in education long enough to know that just because a practice is common (and perhaps very good) and widely promoted does not mean that it has been researched and debated in the scholarly literature.

The role of the facilitator

Some interesting points Cowan makes about the role of the facilitator (not instructor/ tutor) of reflective practice are worth picking out.

1. “Often they may already have known me previously as an active instructor. But past relationships should be set aside when the facilitated reflection begins.” (p. 4) Therefore to be an effective facilitator Cowan needs to disregard his previous relationships and opinions of the student and his prior assessment of their abilities.

2. “… we simply grow into knowing each other” (p.4). The relationship between facilitator and student develops naturally.

3. It is useful to reflect on both ‘reflection-for-action’ (future) and ‘reflection-on-action’ (past) (p.5)

4. The person reflecting must set relevant questions to which they do not know the answer (or only know the answer in part) (p.6).

5. The facilitator and writer are frank with each other. A trusting relationship needs to be established.

6. Students should be encouraged to write about their feelings – some reflection is little more than a set of facts (though see comment below on inappropriate reflections).

7. Those reflecting should state their assumptions. Those facilitating should encourage students to state what assumptions they might be making.

Other considerations

Cowan writes of ‘inappropriate reflections’ (p.10) which go outside the boundaries of the reflection, e.g. talking about friendships or depression. This is particularly challenging at this time of lockdown where our professional practice exists alongside family life and personal circumstances in way we have not know before.

He also addresses issues of confidentiality and privacy and their relationship with professional practice. “… privacy may be valid in the case of a personal diary. But the journaling which I facilitate is explicitly and formatively concerned with the development of abilities which are professional priorities for the journal writer and intended learning outcomes for the course team”. (p.10). He firmly puts reflection into a different category of private diary.

Reference:

Cowan, J. (2013) Facilitating reflective journaling – personal reflections on three decades of practice. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, Issue 5. Available at https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b62f/2be49cb2777359a2ca770c834e78e4de70a5.pdf (open access).

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COVID-19 and meaningful reflective practice

I could give a lot of time to writing about the current COVID-19 pandemic, the closure of universities and the move to ‘remote’ learning. I fully expect COVID-19 to spawn its own pandemic of reflective (or not so reflective) type narratives from academics. In fact, I am actually developing an assignment along these lines as a replacement to an assignment it may not be possible for my own students to complete.

In the process of putting together a reading list I came across this article by Janet Hargreaves in Nurse Education Today (2004). She concludes that “the imperative to do well academically discourages students from engaging in honest and open reflection.”

The consequence of this, according to Hargreaves, means that there just three legitimate forms of reflective practice, none of which represent reflective practice that might meaningfully improve actual practice.

1. Valedictory narratives. I am the hero of this piece. I recognised the crisis and got on with solving the problem. Everyone was very happy about this. My students were very happy with alternative assignments and the VLE I developed during the COVID-19 crisis. I was a great inspiration to my colleagues. In the film version there would be some sort of crusty Lex Luther-like villain trying to impede my progress.

2. Condemnatory narratives. In this one I am the guilty party (along with everyone else). COVID-19 was a real opportunity to enhance online learning. It showed that everyone was able able to teach remotely. I learned a lot of new skills. But the minute it was over we all went back to our old ways as if nothing had happened. O, that we would have repented of our former ways. The film version might be a good project for Ken Loach.

3. Redemptive narrative. I am a cynic who despises the idea of teaching online. I regard anything other than unseen exams as the dumbing-down of the curriculum. Yet thanks to COVID-19 I see the light. Like Captain von Trappe in the Sound of Music or George Banks in Mary Poppins I go from a miserable reactionary to the enlightened convert –that which I once resisted I now embrace wholeheartedly.

We are starting to see various narratives emerging already and I suspect this crisis will lead to thousands of academic articles. Not all of these will be in the reflective practice genre, and I suspect that we will see a lot of valedictory pieces in the next couple of years. Perhaps I might be the author of some of these.

Hargreaves is right to have reservations about the assessment of such pieces for students and she offers further thoughts about this in her article. Pure honesty is difficult for students as it likes outside these three ‘legitimate’ narratives. It is also difficult, perhaps more so for those wishing to put their reflections into the public domain – in my private reflections I might wish to assess and evaluate the responses of those around me, my family, my colleagues, others in my professional community. My own students (who are on the PGCert in Learning and Teaching in HE) may also wish to share honestly what they think of my behaviours and I cannot guarantee they will be kind to me. Another key danger in a time of crisis or conflict is falling foul of one of Krister Stendahl’s three rules of religious understanding ‘Don’t compare your best to their worst’. If we are honest we are all to apt to do this, and it takes a truly reflective practitioner not to fall into this trap.

I will try to keep some reflection going on this blog over the coming months considering the points Hargreaves makes.

Reference

Janet Hargreaves (2004) So how do you feel about that? Assessing reflective practice. Nurse Education Today 24(3), pp. 196-201 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2003.11.008

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Learning styles: Why does the idea persist?

One the interesting things about teaching on a PGCert in Learning and Teaching in HE and supporting experienced staff though their HEA Fellowships is observing the continuing stickiness of the idea of ‘learning styles.’ I see lots of references to colleagues stating that they adapt (or try to adapt) their teaching practices to suit students in accordance with their “learning styles” (Reference Myers-Briggs, Honey, and Mumford, VARK etc.).

An awareness that not all students learn in the same way is important, but the idea that each student is a certain ‘type’ of learner is somewhat problematic. If you studied in the 1990s or 2000s you may have been encouraged to take a test to find out your learning style or you may have been told that you are a ‘kinaesthetic learner’ or a ‘visual learner’. Some of the best known inventories of learning styles include Myers-Briggs, Kolb and Honey and Mumford, and some colleagues purport to use these.

In 2004 Frank Coffield and others produced a report which analysed 13 learning style inventories in depth and referenced many more. The fact that there are so many choices of learning style inventories would probably indicate that they cannot all be correct. As well as putting pressure on the teacher to adapt their teaching to take into account every possible learning style, the idea of being a ‘visual learner’ or a ‘kinaesthetic learner’ can be self limiting for students too – if they think they learn in a certain way they can be closed to the possibilities of learning in different ways, or may not seek to develop in areas they feel weaker in.

15 years after Coffield I’ve not done much in the way of finding out why such strong belief in learning styles continues to persist, but some ideas has emerged in talking to colleagues. One theory is that the students who were tested and categorised into these different learning types are now the teachers and are bringing these ideas into their classrooms. Secondly, there remains an industry around learning styles with vested business interested. Thirdly there are educationalists, psychologists and others whose beliefs in learning styles persist.

Many are quite surprised when I tell them about Coffield et al’s report as they assumed that learning styles is an inherent part of the good practice. Rather than getting cross about this, most seem surprisingly relieved and liberated when they find out the idea has been found wanting.

As noted above rejecting the idea of learning styles does not means that mean that we accept that everyone learns in the same way.

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Elias Amy Gallie (1846-1925)

When researching our family history, the first record we had of Elias Amy Gallie was his marriage to Sarah Long in Truro, Cornwall. He states on his marriage certificate that his father was called David Gallie and was a master mariner. His birthdate or birthplace does not appear on his marriage certificate. He appears on the 1881 census working as a mate abroad the Maria Elizabeth. In the 1891 census he (as Elias A Gallie) is living in Penzance with his wife and six children. His unusual (for a boy) middle name has long been a source of interest and the middle name Amy was also given to many of his sons and grandsons. He confirms that he was born in Jersey in the 1891 census.

The problem we had for many years was trying to find any prior records of Elias Amy Gallie in Jersey or elsewhere. No master mariner by the name of David Gallie can be found on official records. The surname name ‘Amy’ is fairly common in Jersey as so is Gallie and one family theory was that Elias was adopted by a person with the surname Amy. David, Elias and the similar name Elie were very common as well so there were several Elias Gallies and Elias Amys who may have been ‘the one’, but their birth dates, death dates and places they were found living never seemed to match up. My father began his research in the early 1980s travelling to to various county records offices around England and Wales (I joined him on a few of these visits in the early 1990s). I think it would be close to impossible to piece together all that follows prior to the invention of the internet.

Notwithstanding Elias Amy Gallie’s claim that his father was a master mariner two main David Gallie candidates for his father emerge. One of these is a sailmaker who was born in Jersey in Grouville, Jersey in 1827. He married Ann Rachel Le Masurier in 1854 and many of the trees on ancestry.com have settled for this theory. This David Gallie and his wife Ann Rachel moved to London and David tragically took his own life in 1882 (the coroner’s report into his death makes for difficult reading). This David Gallie and would have been 19 when Elias was born and Ann Rachel just 13, which makes it highly unlikely that she was his mother. Another possibility was this David Gallie’s father, also a sailmaker and also called David (1801-1856) who married Catherine Sarre (died 1852). If Catherine was Elias Amy Gallie’s mother she would have been 46 when he was born; unlikely, but not impossible.

So far though we have no definite evidence of Elias Amy Gallie in Jersey before 1873 or anywhere else for that matter.

The first clue in the puzzle is one I cannot take credit for, but another user on ancestry.com found an entry in the 1851 for a 4-year-old boy called Elie Amy Eguigon living in the workhouse and general hospital in St Helier and labelled this name as Elias Amy Gallie. This user has kept their tree private, but I suspect that they too have now been able to work out more of the full story. This Elie was a ‘pauper’ listed with many other children including a two month old Mary Ann Eguryon (sic), presumably his sister and, more importantly for our purposes on a different page was their 26 year-old mother Ann Mary Equiyon (sic).

The next stage was not to trace Elie who may have been Elias Amy Gallie, but Elie’s mother. Her next engagement with officialdom seems to have come in 1853 when she married a much older man named David Gallie. This David Gallie was 52, his wife Catherine Sarre having died the previous year. Ann Mary was just 30, so now Elie was presumably living with his mother and his new stepfather. However, David Gallie died in 1856 when Elie would have been ten (yes this David Gallie was the older David Gallie mentioned above, making the younger David Gallie, presumed by many to be his father his step-brother).

Following David Gallie (Senior’s) death Mary Ann Equiyon married an Englishman named James Mallowby, a sailor and young widower born in Wandsworth, Surrey. Helpfully there seems to be a Jersey tradition of referring to women to their birth name in official records (but not the census) and even noting that this Ann Mary Equijon (the spelling changes all the time) was the widow of David Gallie. This marriage took place in December 1861, though in April 1861 they were living in St Hellier as husband and wife with their son, a 14 year old called Elias Mallowby (presumably the boy previous known as Elie Amy Eguigon), as well as other children who may have come from this relationship, but were more likely to have been the children of James Mallowby’s first marriage to an Englishwoman called Anna Dartnall who he married in Sittingbourne, Kent in 1846. Their lodger was called Mary Gallie, age 33, possibly a daughter of the late David.

By this point, we have a boy who has been known as both Elie and Elias as firstnames and Eguiyon, Marrowby and possibly Gallie as surnames. From the later censuses in Cornwall we can reasonably deduce that Elias Amy Gallie was born around 1846, and presuming Ann Mary Eguiyon was his mother I may now be able to find his birth. In January 1847 Ann Mary Guion had her illegitimate son baptised in Gorey. His name was not Elias or Elie, but Helier. Helier too was a common forename in Jersey and is only the first and last letter away from Elie. Guion or Guyon seems to be the ‘correct’ spelling of Eguiyon or at least spellings which are not unique to Ann Mary and her family. Now we have a Heiler Guion who turns up in the workhouse four years later as Elie Amy Guion.

Although the name Amy was not used at his baptism, the name used in the workhouse provides some clues to the identity of Elias Amy Gallie’s biological father. One way a women might identify the father of an illegitimate child is his give him his father’s name and this led me to look into the name Helier Amy as a possible candidate. There were a number of Helier Amys in Jersey, but the most likely was one born in 1822, though another Helier Amy was born in 1829. This is where we go back to Elias Amy Gallie’s marriage certificate – this Helier Amy was awarded a certificate of competence as a master mariner in 1854. On the basis of this evidence Elias Amy Gallie gave his birth father’s occupation and his first step-father’s name.

Helier Amy died at sea in 1864 at the age of 42. A Lloyd’s of London register for 1866 notes that Heiler (born 1822 in Jersey) had not been of any voyages that year – maybe they had not been informed of his death. At the time of his death Helier Amy was resident in Liverpool. Probate valued Helier’s estate at under £20 though as he died at sea this would have reflected what he would have had on his person. Where exactly Helier Amy died is uncertain. If he died aboard a British registered vessel, his death should have been recorded, but I have only been able to find a record or probate – not a death certificate. Interesting a number of other people on ancestry.com who have Helier Amy as an ancestor and say he died at sea in the Royal Charter storm of 6 October 1859 just off Anglesey, Wales – the Royal Charter itself was sailing back to Liverpool from Australia, but other ships were wrecked too and it has been estimated about 800 people died. Again, I can’t find any evidence that this Helier Amy or any other died in this incident. The probate record specifically records Helier’s death as taking place on 14 July 1864.

In 1856 Helier Amy went onto marry a Welshwoman called Mary Ellen John (or Johns) in Milford Haven, West Wales with whom he had two children, Caroline Amelia Amy (born 1857) and Arthur Helier Amy (born 1859). Some ancestry.com trees state that Mary Ellen emigrated to Australia after her husband’s death, but I’ve not be able to find evidence of this. However, Arthur Helier Amy definitely did emigrate to New South Wales, Australia where he died in 1931, having had children and grandchildren.

Elias Amy Gallie’s mother Ann Mary (or Anne-Marie) lived a long life and died in Jersey in 1908, where her burial record notes she was the widow of both David Gallie and James Mallowby. Her father was Charles Guion (born 1793) and her mother was Anne Fellent. She also had a brother called Charles.

The second step-father James Mallowby seems to have returned to London where is entered the workhouse in Lewisham destitute at the age of 65 in 1890. At the time of the 1891 census he was a sea watchman on board a ship called the Diana, but I have not been able to find a record of his death.

Many questions still remain. At some point he chose to use the names of his biological father and his first stepfather in preference to his mother’s name or his second step-father. He would have been just 10 years old when David Gallie died, but he seems to have known something of Helier and his status as a master mariner. It would be interesting to know what ongoing contact he had with his biological father, (Elias Amy Gallie would have been 18 at the time of Helier’s death), his mother until her death in Jersey 1908 or his various half and step brothers and sisters. The reasons for his choice of his own name will probably be never known, but he used the Amy name for at least two of his sons Elias Amy Gallie (born 1883) and Francis Amy Gallie (born 1889). His eldest son was David Gallie (born 1874) who himself called his twin sons Elias Amy (who was my great-grandfather) and David (born 1894) and another son was named Francis Amy Gallie (born 1903), taking the male Amy middle name into a third generation. The Francis Amy Gallie born in 1889 called his son Francis Leslie Amy Gallie (born 1909).

Over the course of his life Elias Amy Gallie was also known as Helier Guion, Elie Amy Guion (various spellings), Elias Mallowby and possibly Elie / Elias Gallie. In Great Britain there were no adoption laws until 1926, so unless Jersey law was different there would have been no formal processes for name change.

As always there are questions outstanding, even if all this correct. There may be further knowledge to be obtained from the descendants of Elias Amy Gallie’s half brother Arthur Helier Amy. It is not even certain that Arthur knew he had an illegitimate half-brother. There is even a bit of uncertainty about which Helier Amy was which, one born in 1822 and one in 1829, so the Helier who fathered Elias Amy Gallie may not have been the one who married Mary Ellen John. Helier’s sea going activities seem to have involved him being missing for the 1861 census where Mary Ellen is referred to a ‘Mariner’s wife: Merchant Service’ – she does not appear on the 1871 census but her children where living in Steynton, Milford with their maternal grandparents and a number of unmarried aunts and uncles.

I recently took an Ancestry DNA test, which is consistent with the above. When searching my DNA matches on the name ‘Gallie’ I only get descendants of Elias Amy Gallie and they are all within the 4th cousin range, I don’t get any Gallies from the 5th to 8th cousin range. However, I do get some Amys and Guions in the 5th - 8th cousin, but no closer relatives. This would be consistent with the above.

John Canning, April 2019 (Great-great-great grandson of Elias Amy Gallie).

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Supporting and enabling BME Student Success through the Lifecycle.

In June 2019, with support from our PVC and colleagues in the CLT, I was able to organise a national event for University Alliance institutions at the University of Brighton. The event took a 'sandpit approach' to the issue of the Black and Ethnic Minority student 'attainment gap'. The website I set up for the event is available at UA Sandpit: Supporting and enabling BME Student Success through the Lifecycle. With help from our Learning technologists we were able to use Slack, before, during and after the event.

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Professor Tansy Jessop -At home everywhere and nowhere: the place of pedagogic research in higher education

Excellent lecture here from Tansy Jessop, Professor at Southampton Solent University. Makes important points about 'pedagogic research' being put into its own category and the 'own goal' of Boyer's Scholarship of Teaching of Learning.

Professor Tansy Jessop -At home everywhere and nowhere: the place of pedagogic research in higher education from Educational Development Unit on Vimeo.

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