Building developmental networks of early career academics, PhD Confirmation Seminar. Presented in person, September 21 2011, Queensland University of Technology.

My confirmation seminar was presented in person on the beautiful Gardens Point campus of QUT Brisbane. This was my first research presentation in person, I spoke for forty minutes and afterwards I responded to questions and feedback from the audience. I received some great feedback from my panel members, Dr Hilary Hughes, Professor Sylvia Edwards, Professor Christine Bruce and Professor Helen Partridge, and some thought provoking questions from Professor Paul Burnett and Caroline Cottman, including:

* Using CSU you are tapping into this specific universities approach or context for ECA induction and support, what about other insitutions such as QUT that have a cohort based approach?

My initial response to this is that I acknowledge that universities have different strategies/approaches to responding to this issue and that means the data and results may be highly context-dependent, thus comparing data from across different types of universities (i.e. Group of Eight, ATN, regional etc) may reveal some interesting contrasts. However, if I choose to focus on participants from more than one university, I will need to be clear on the reason why I have chosen these particular unis for this study and how the methodology supports this reason.

* How is the  concept of relational applied or understood across the differnet literature? eg relational IL  and relationship. Focus here is on being careful of choice of language or terms which may mean differnet things in different disciplines.

* What do you mean by informal sphere?

* How did you decide on your definition of ECA?

* Comment – like the phrase “learning to become an academic”.

The seminar was successful and I am very much looking forward to continuing my research journey as a PhD candidate at QUT.

Building developmental networks of early career academics: An informed learning perspective. Presented via web conference at RAILS7 Doctoral Consortium, May 9 2011, Queensland University of Technology.

This was my first attempt at communicating my research topic to a group of information research students and more experienced researchers from a range of Australian universities including QUT, CSU, UTS, Curtin and RMIT. While presenting from my home office, via the web using Elluminate software was a challenge in itself, the presentation managed to generate some useful feedback and discussion, including the issue of broader vs narrow sampling of participants, raised by Dr Michael Olsson (preserving the richness of the data by focusing on early career academics from one discipline), use of ‘binary thinking’ in defining an emerging concept such as ‘informed learning’ – e.g. what is and what is not informed learning? My thoughts on this question raised by Dr Anne Lloyd were:

Your question of ‘what is an informed learner and what is not an informed learner?’ and the issue of problematic ‘binaries’ (info as enabling/not enabling) as mentioned too by Natalya Godbold (UTS, PhD candidate), are interesting and something I hadn’t considered. In many cases, the participants have brought up what they think is ‘informed’ and ‘not informed’, helpful and not helpful etc. So some of this data may go towards answering some of those questions.

As I said, I like the emphasis on learning and so the act or process of informing this learning is really the focus of my study. Prof Christine Bruce posits that in the informed learning concept, information and knowledge are fused and not viewed as separate concepts. The participants in my pilot study discussed a wide range of things that informed them while learning in the specific context, including things like mistakes or rumours, forms of ‘information/knowledge’ that might be seen as ‘not informed’ learning as they might lead to wrong decisions or outcomes. However, in this context of learning or developing, a wider range of information, some of which may not be the best choice to use, may actually end up enhancing learning activities within the networking experience.

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