Friday, January 21, 2011

Epistemic what?

This is the response you'll likely get if you voice 'epistemic fluency' as an aspirational outcome for students in higher education... unless you've looked at Peter Goodyear's work on it. Maria Zenios recently published a paper in J-CAL which extended...
Ohlsson's (1995) list of epistemic tasks to include activities such as reasoning, negotiating, comparing, exploring, clarifying meanings, and offering new perspectives. (p9)
Back at the office, we were discussing how a proposed workload metric could account for 'corridor conversations', having been chatting over some key/current issues.
We're looking at developing a new curriculum and I waved a copy of Maria's paper around in the hope of getting a chance to advertise epistemic fluency. Another issue was a complaint about the behaviour of a group of students in a session where they would learn a practical clinical skill. I wasnt that familiar with it so youtubed to locate a few examples. The tutor immediately started to critique the video I'd found. I suggested that this was exactly the activity that we would want students engaging in. One nice thing about video is that they include cultural settings and artifacts, like uniforms, experienced/expert staff: exactly the conditions that students face and have to challenge when they enter the clinical area. I challenged my colleague to come up with an 'epistemic activity' that framed the way that students would search for, find, evaluate and share those videos, supporting their learning of the clinical skill. It's the first time I'd really seen clinical skills as something wider than merely teaching a person to perform a physical task, and the first time I'd made such a concrete connection between epistemic fluency and learning a primarily physical skill.

Zenios, M. (2011). Epistemic activities and collaborative learning: towards an analytical model for studying knowledge construction in networked learning settings. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00394.x