1. Bottleneck to learning

Decoding the Disciplines methodology was used to evaluate the PgCert and identify areas for course development.  Recent graduates of the PgCert were invited to participate in a series of reflective workshops aimed at re-designing the PgCert. The initial workshop focused on identifying their bottlenecks to participation and understanding in relation to concepts/knowledge, pedagogic processes and procedures, and course organisation.  This workshop identified a range of bottlenecks including the purpose and operation of critical reflection.  These reflections formed the basis for a re-design of the PgCert. 

The PgCert is a blended learning course that is organised around a series of themed workshops as well as learning journals that are submitted to the institution’s virtual learning environment.  Most of the work related to addressing the bottleneck of critical reflection refers to the online environment.

Critical reflection requires a sustained investigation into professionals’ common-sense understanding of what constitutes their practice and why.  This involves working with colleagues to articulate their theories-in-action.  Furthermore, they are invited to develop an understanding of how these theories-in-action are related to personal (reflections on being students, dispositions towards educational institutions, values, etc.), disciplinary (their experience of socialisation into disciplinary ways of practicing), and institutional (teaching and learning regimes) biographies.  Sustained critical reflection is closely related to engagement with scholarship, use of formative feedback, and a requirement to concretise aspects of their learning through the identification of actionable knowledge. 

This was particularly important to address because participants were required to maintain a regular Learning Journal and submit a Reflection on Learning report as their summative assessment.

CASE STUDY PROVIDED BY DR. SIMON WARREN, NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND, GALWAY