ISSN 2050-9995 (Online)
Journal Juneâ€“Aug 2006 This edition of the Teaching Fellows Journal has been restored from an archived online edition, hence the simplified form. Please note - Some links and content within this document may now be out of date.
Edinburgh Napier University is a registered Scottish charity. Reg. No. SC018373
Contents 2 Editorial 5 Eureka! 7 Reports 10 Review corner 12 Web spotlight
Editorial Norrie Brown, Senior Lecturer and Senior Teaching Fellow, School of Acute & Continuing Care Nursing, and a member of the Clinical Skills Steering Group covering both of Napier’s Health Schools, discusses some of the most recent developments aimed at increasing student confidence and competence in clinical nursing and midwifery skills. Introduction Norrie discusses some of the issues affecting student learning that arise from having clinical skills laboratories in higher education institutions.
Edition Editors Angela Benzies Senior Teaching Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Academic Practice Coordinator of the Teaching Fellowship Scheme Margaret Nairn tfj Web Editor and Publications Officer Educational Development, Bevan Villa, Craighouse Campus, Edinburgh Current enquiries to: Office of the Vice Principal (Academic) Sighthill Campus, Sighthill Court, Edinburgh EH11 4BN Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.url.napier.ac.uk/tf
In order to illustrate some of the discussion points, Norrie uses photographs taken on a recent visit to a skills laboratory at Hanze University, Groningen, Holland (if you look very carefully, you might see a ‘doctor’ or two doing their ward rounds that you just might know!).
What are clinical skills laboratories and why are they necessary? Napier University prepares and educates possibly the largest number of student nurses and midwives of any higher education institution in Scotland. It does this at the same time as retaining its name amongst the best places in Scotland, if not the UK, for producing high quality National Health Service (NHS) staff. When thinking about where nurses and midwives, and particularly student nurses and midwives, learn to do what they do, why they do what they do and how to do what they do, the immediate response might be ‘On the wards of course!’ This response isn’t too far from reality. Where else do these students learn about the evidence-base, knowledge and skills they need for competent practice but at university? After learning about the theoretical underpinnings they go to clinical placements in hospitals, clinics, day care centres, children’s nurseries, client’s homes and so on, to put their knowledge and skills into practice. Student nurses and midwives spend 50% of their three-year programme at university and the other 50% in clinical practice. This is a statutory requirement and students must be able to demonstrate that they have achieved this theory:practice balance prior to being placed on the professional register. Only then can they practice as registered nurses.
Increasingly, however, the amount and level of learning that can be achieved in clinical practice is coming under threat. The threat comes not so much from the failings in the NHS, but rather from its success – especially the way in which the health and social care needs of Scotland’s population is changing and is becoming better understood and managed. As more people are cared for in their own homes with increasing emphasis, and finance, placed on community care, there is a reduction in clinical placements within hospitals where students have traditionally applied theory to practice. However the increase in community care has not yet resulted in an increase in the available placements for students there. The reduction in clinical placements, therefore, means that there are more students for fewer placements, with those placements under pressure to take more students than they would normally. The effect on student learning, skills development and confidence doesn’t require much imagination, particularly when students are in competition with each other and when they are falling over each other to gain access to any and all learning opportunities that may arise. Not to be overly simplistic, the reduction in clinical placements isn’t the only reason for needing alternative, or complementary, clinical learning opportunities. For a number of years now there has been a growing amount of research into pre-registration nursing programmes that has identified a number of issues of concern around the lack of confidence and competence in student and newly qualified nurses. The following list describes some of these issues: • a gap between what students learn in university and what they can do in practice (the ‘theory-practice gap’) (White et al 1993; Elkan & Robinson 1995; Hislop et al 1996) • poor quality of practice (May et al 1997) • newly qualified nurses having difficulty applying their research and theoretical knowledge to clinical practice (Luker et al 1996; Carlisle et al 1999) • students with confidence and displaying competence but often complaining that they lack the practical skills (Jowett et al 1993; Gray & Smith 1999) • short and frequent clinical placements which limit students’ confidence in their own ability (White et al 1993) with the result that students can’t consolidate their learning (Carlisle et al 1999). Clinical skills laboratories help to ameliorate the negative effects of these issues and offer students
increased exposure to clinical practice and the clinical skills required for practice. They are thought to encourage the development and mastery of clinical skills (psychomotor, cognitive and affective) and provide feedback on students’ performance within a risk free environment (Snyder et al, 2000; O’Neill, 2002).
What and how can clinical skills laboratories aid student learning? Napier has expended a lot of time and effort to address some of the issues and concerns outlined above by trying to develop its own Simulation and Skills Centre (SCRS). It has also invested considerable money on equipment and human resources in order to realise its vision, for example the appointment of a Senior Lecturer for Clinical Skills Development, three lecturers in Clinical Nursing Practice and a joint appointment with NHS Lothian of a Practice and Research Developer. Since 2004, staff from both Health Schools and clinical representatives have been involved in the development of a Clinical Skills Strategy Group for the undergraduate nursing and midwifery programmes. The benefits to students of having a dedicated skills laboratory are numerous, for example they: • mimic clinical areas such as a high dependency bedbay and a client’s home and contain the necessary equipment that students might see in a variety of clinical and other settings • facilitate the development of clinical skills with ‘real’ scenarios using simulated patients (O’Neill, 2002) • allow students to practise complex skills in a safe and supportive environment using patient manikins to integrate cognitive, affective and psychomotor components of learning tasks and events, and to promote more effective problem-solving (O’Neill, 2002) • allow teachers to facilitate effective clinical decision-making in particular and varied contexts (Myrick & Yonge, 2002) • allow students to gain both summative and formative feedback on skills development via self-, peer- and teacher-led assessment, and by using video/DVD to view and rate their own and others’ performance.
How real is the vision of having our own SCRS? Some of the difficulties that arise when using simulated learning in inauthentic contexts (theories
of Bruner and Vygotsky for example) is that the lack of reality might affect the believability and, therefore, seriousness of the learning that could be gained in a safe environment. Given that authentic learning is constructivist in orientation and that constructivism is the main theoretical perspective influencing higher education in UK this might be a source of concern for some authentic purists, although I do think that, generally, authentic and constructivist learning can be achieved by close attention to detail and using real-life, believable scenarios that engage students in authentic thinking about practice. Additional concerns include research suggesting that while students report that they valued having the opportunity to practice prior to using their skills with patients, practising at a pace and style that suited them, some required approval or validation by an expert and immediate feedback (McAdams et al, 1989). This would be difficult if too many students were using the labs at the same time and if there was a lack of supervision by the teacher. Whilst the work of the SCRS group is at an advanced stage, and they deserve to be commended for their work to date, the vision of the SCRS is yet to be fully realised. The biggest stumbling block at the moment seems to be the lack of dedicated space within which to locate a permanent laboratory. Nevertheless, there are facilities that can and are used and which do meet student needs for skills practice and development. Of course, it could be argued that one of the benefits of not having a permanent suite of physical resources is that the opportunities to visit and identify areas renowned for excellent facilities and practice, such as Hanze University, could help augment arguments for much a more sophisticated SCRS. References Carlisle C, Luker K.A, Davies C, Stilwell J, Wilson R (1999) Skills competency in nurse education: nurse managers’ perceptions of diploma level preparation Journal of Advanced Nursing, 29(5); 1256–1264 Elkan R, Robinson J (1995) Project 2000: a review of the literature Journal of Advanced Nursing, 22(2); 386–392
Gray M A, Smith L N (1999) The professional socialisation of diploma of higher education in nursing students: a longitudinal qualitative study Journal of Advanced Nursing, 29(3); 639–647 Hislop S, Inglis B, Cope P, Stoddart B, McIntosh C (1996) Situating theory in practice: student views of theory-practice in Project 2000 nursing programmes Journal of Advanced Nursing, 23; 171–177 Jowett S, Walton I, Payne S (1993) Challenges and Change in Nurse Education – A study of the implementation of Project 2000, Slough: NFER Luker K, Carlisle C, Riley E, Stilwell J, Davies C, Wilson R (1996) Project 2000 Fitness for purpose: Report to the Department of Health, University of Warwick and University of Liverpool May N, Veitch L, McIntosh J B, Alexander M F (1997) Preparation for Practice: Evaluation of Nurse and Midwife Education in Scotland. 1992 programmes Final Report, Glasgow: Glasgow Caledonian University McAdams C, Rankin E J, Love B, Patton D (1989) Psychomotor skills laboratories as self-directed learning: a study of nursing students’ perceptions Journal of Advanced Nursing, 14 (9); 788–796 Myrick F, Yonge O (2002) Preceptor questioning and student critical thinking Journal of Professional Nursing, 18(3); 176–181 O’Neill A (2002) Preparation for Practice: Clinical Skills (Nurse Education) Project Report, Edinburgh: NHS Education for Scotland Snyder M D, Fitzloff B M, Fielder R, Lambake M S (2000) Preparing nursing students for contemporary practice: restructuring the psychomotor skills laboratory Journal of Nursing Education, 39(5); 229–230 White E, Riley E, Davies S, Twinn S (1993) A Detailed Study of the Relationships between Teaching, Support, Supervision and Role Modelling for Students in Clinical Areas within the Context of Project 2000 Courses London: Kings College London, University of Manchester, and English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting
Eureka! Seven Simple Steps to Email Efficiency Helen MacDonough, User Information Officer, C&IT Services, offers us seven tips for getting more out of our Outlook email Did you know that, on a typical day, around 30,000 emails are sent into the university? This excludes all internal email and all email blocked or deleted as it contains a virus or spam (which you will hear more about later). These figures indicate that email is an essential communication tool and is integral to university daily life. It’s therefore vital to ensure that your email is well managed so you don’t drown under a barrage of disorganised information. Outlook is an invaluable organisational and time management tool as well as being an important means of communicating. Why not take some time today to read the various guides outlined here, play around with Outlook and try out some of these simple steps to see how they can help you work more efficiently and effectively. Read on to find out how quick and easy it can be to take seven simple steps to email efficiency.
Step 1 – Read the Outlook User Guide The Outlook User Guide, (click on either the HTML or PDF version) is a comprehensive guide to using and managing your Outlook account. Not only does it explain how to use email, it also covers topics such as organisation and time management using your Calendar and Tasks. It’s packed with hints and tips on getting the most out of email and other Outlook features. I have concentrated mainly on email but that there are so many other things you can do with Outlook; organise meetings and appointments using the Calendar; set your own tasks and delegate tasks; set reminders for meetings, appointments and tasks; organise your Contacts; write notes; set up rules to control your incoming messages – the list goes on…
Step 2 – Manage the size of your Mailbox Each member of staff is currently allocated 100mb of Outlook account storage space. If your account exceeds 100mb you’ll be unable to send messages although you’ll still receive all incoming mail.
To prevent this happening carry out regular housekeeping by: • Regularly checking the size of your email account • Deleting messages that you no longer need (including your sent items) • Regularly emptying your deleted items folder • Setting up and using Personal Folders. To find out how to check the size of your Mailbox and empty your Deleted Items folder refer to Section 10.0 of the Outlook User Guide. To find out how to create and use Personal Folders refer to Section 3.5 of the Outlook User Guide.
Step 3 – Organise your Inbox Is your Inbox always brimming with messages? If so you’ll benefit from a bit of Inbox organisation. Why not follow these tips: • If you haven’t done so already, set up sub folders so you can file messages and find them again quickly. Refer to Section 3.4 of the Outlook User Guide to find out how to set up and use sub folders. • Use message flagging to prioritise emails requiring further action and follow up. Refer to Section 3.2.8 of the Outlook User Guide to find out how to use message flagging. • Customise how you view your inbox messages to suit your way of working. By enabling the Reading Pane and/or the Auto Preview you can see at a glance the content of messages. To find out how to change the way you view your messages refer to Section 3.3 of the Outlook User Guide. • Sort or group your messages by conversation, sender’s name or date making emails easier to find and conversations easier to follow. To find out how to sort or group your messages refer to Section 3.3.3 of the Outlook User Guide. • Last but definitely not least remember to delete any messages that you no longer need and empty your Deleted Items. Refer to Section 10.2 of the Outlook User Guide to find out how to empty your Deleted Items folder.
Step 4 – Follow email etiquette guidelines In our working life we are often in so much of a hurry
dealing with emails and carrying out other daily tasks that we tend to forget basic email etiquette. So now let’s go back to basics and have a look at some etiquette guidelines: • Remember sending an email from a Napier email account is the equivalent of sending a letter on Napier headed paper. Don’t forget to check your punctuation, spelling and grammar; keep things simple and, above all, be polite. • Remember there are other methods of communication. We tend to forget that there are other ways of communicating and waste time conversing via email when it would be more efficient to pick up the phone or take a short walk to speak to someone face to face. Of course there are plenty of occasions when email is the best method of communication, but not always. • Don’t automatically click ‘Reply to All’ when replying to an email initially addressed to multiple recipients. Use the ‘Reply’ option unless it’s necessary to reply to all the other recipients. • Always enter a meaningful subject in the subject field, never leave it blank. • Use clear and simple formatting. Don’t use unnecessary add-ins such as elaborate backgrounds, cartoons and symbols. • Don’t type with the caps lock on as it’s THE EMAIL EQUIVALENT OF SHOUTING so please avoid unless absolutely necessary! • Set an expiry date on messages so that recipients can tell immediately when they are no longer valid. Visit Outlook 2003 Hints & Tips and click on Expiry – How to Set an Expiry Date on Emails to find out how. • Use the Out of Office Assistant to inform others when you’re away from your email and/or unavailable to respond. Refer to Section 8.0 of the Outlook User Guide to find out how. • Most important of all ensure you take time to carefully read over each email before you send it correcting any mistakes and ensuring the message is clear and to the point.
Step 5 – Protect yourself against junk email Most of you will have at some time received unsolicited mail from unrecognised senders containing a virus or spam. So what can be done to cut down on the amount of unsolicited email coming into your
Mailbox? Napier already utilises Mail Marshal™, an automated email protection system that helps protect against unsolicited junk mail and email-borne virus infections by checking all external email as it enters the university system. It cannot totally alleviate spam, but it significantly reduces it. On a typical day the university receives over 100,000 emails (on top of internal emails). Of this total we typically block over 70% as spam and nearly 10% is blocked and deleted as it contains a virus. However, some unsolicited messages will still infiltrate the system. If you do receive any unwanted mail: • Never open attachments or click on any link within the message even if it is an unsubscribe link. An attachment may contain a virus which could potentially damage files on your PC and clicking on a link will alert the spammers that yours is a valid email address resulting in even more spam. • Report the offending message by forwarding it to the company who maintains the generic list of junk senders so they can update their records. Visit General User Guides and click on Unsolicited Email Protection to find out who to forward it to. • Set up rules on your mailbox to delete messages with certain words in the subject or body or messages from a certain sender. Visit Outlook 2003 Hints & Tips and click on Junk Email – Dealing with Junk Email to find out how to set up rules.
Step 6 – Access your email remotely Did you know you can access your email outwith the university? There are three ways of doing this: • Outlook Web Access (OWA) is the simplest way of accessing your email outwith the university. It allows you to log into your account from anywhere globally that has Internet access enabling you to work from another campus or from any external location such as your home PC. Visit Outlook Web Access User Guides to find out more. • Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) can be used if you have Outlook Express installed on your home PC or laptop. Visit Outlook 2003 User Guides and click on IMAP – Setting up Outlook Express for IMAP Access to find out more. • Remote desktop connection via the Virtual Private Network (VPN) enables you to remotely connect to your office PC giving you full access to your Outlook account. You will also be able to access your email Personal Folders unlike access via
OWA or IMAP. Visit General User Guides and click on Virtual Private Network (VPN) to find out more.
Step 7 – Use the Public Folders Public Folders are message folders which can be viewed by large groups of people. Staff have rights to view and post messages to staff and students within certain Public Folders. The folders that you have
access to depends on your department and role. If you have information that you need to send to a group of people consider posting it in an appropriate Public Folder rather than sending an email. To find out more about Public Folders refer to Section 7.0 of the Outlook User Guide. Happier emailing!
Reports Christina Mainka, Academic Development Adviser Online Learning, EdDev, reports on the 2nd Asia Pacific Educational Integrity Conference Packing and preparing for a 24 hour+ trip to Sydney, Australia, in early December was the last thing I expected to be doing at a time when I’m usually busy stocking up on Lebkuchenhaus ingredients for Christmas baking frenzies in our predominantly German household. But there I was, on my way to present a paper half-way around the world at the 2nd Asia-Pacific Educational Integrity Conference hosted by the University of Newcastle. The weather in the southern hemisphere’s summer disappointed, but the conference certainly did not. And despite warnings to expect less than mediocre flair in one of Australia’s most industrious cities, Newcastle’s harbour enticed with schools of dolphins. The university campus also impressed with 140 hectares of vibrant natural bushland enjoyed by 100 mainly Australian and New Zealand educators plus representatives from the UK, Canada, Israel, Iran, and Thailand – the Scottish delegate from Napier University having travelled the farthest of them all! The conference was opened by Newcastle University’s Charmian Eckersley (representative of the Network for Innovation in Teaching and Learning) whose thoughtful welcome message in the conference handbook stood out long before the conference began. In it she prompted us to reflect on education where, as in other professions, ‘life is short but the craft is long’ (Hippocrates 460–377BC). Professor William Purcell, as conference convenor and Pro-Vice Chancellor (International) of the host university then spoke of the need to raise the profile of academic integrity, guarding the highest ethical standards in order to promote honesty in all our work. Easier said than done for a university that suffered a serious blow to its academic integrity in 2003 when 14 Malaysian
student papers that had received failing marks for plagiarism were discovered to have been subsequently passed by another lecturer. But, aside from the ‘scandal’ prompting the dreaded media frenzy, it very apparently kick-started a defiant institutional campaign to restore and promote academic integrity at a ‘new’ Newcastle University which in 2006 boasts compulsory academic integrity training for staff and students; a literacy website and online student tutorial; Turnitin® (text-matching software) subscription; membership of the Center for Academic Integrity (CAI); and appointment of Academic Conduct Officers (regarded as the academic integrity facilitators). Furthermore, the 25 Academic Conduct Officers will be assisted shortly by the same number of Academic Research Officers, one for each school. Staff and student enrolment on Turnitin® is mandatory, educational use of its preventative tools spearheaded and supported by the ACOs and complemented by learning support from library staff as advertised in posters such as ‘Do you see red in Turnitin?’ targeted at students with referencing and writing problems. One of the themes resonating with many conference delegates was, in fact, the role that text-matching software played in deterring plagiarism. Flinders University reported mixed reactions from staff and students to a Turnitin® pilot, during which law students reacted with a ‘Turnitoff’ campaign while nonnative English speakers, who make up 50% of student enrolment at some Australian universities, agreed that the colour-coded ‘originality reports’ helped them improve their referencing and paraphrasing skills. Suzanne Ryan of Newcastle University’s business school concurred in her pre-conference workshop that non-native English speakers, in particular, felt well-assisted by the ‘originality reports’ in which word-for-word comparisons between the original source and the written work are highlighted in distinct colours. Her students monitor their referencing skills on their own, while she focuses on assigning short,
more manageable writing tasks, such as an annotated bibliography or concise conclusion. Workshop participants bemoaned the lacklustre summative essay assessment in UK and Australian HE and agreed that too often the skill of writing an essay was an underestimated task, hardly achievable by many students new to university who consequently are at risk of submitting unoriginal work. Resonating the most with delegates, however, was not the role that text-matching software might play, but rather the role academic integrity should play in promoting original work. Barbara Giorgio, Australian Catholic University, appealed to listeners to support a more values-based education that has ‘caring at its core’ and reminded us that lack of academic integrity in education easily carries over to lack of integrity in the workplace and family. Encouraging to hear was that a number of Australian universities have recently joined the US Center for Academic Integrity (CAI) based at Duke University adopting the Center’s values of honesty, trust, respect, fairness and responsibility; oddly values not yet at the centre of anti-plagiarism policy outside North American HE institutions. Quite fittingly, Dr Gordon Barnhart from the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, in the very first keynote The internet and academic integrity: a modern challenge to an old problem reported that his university had very deliberately chosen not to seek support from text-matching services, such as Turnitin®, but rather seeks to maximise an environment in which academic integrity is at the core. The university has revamped ineffective academic disciplinary procedures and policies and created a five-point plan that includes annual ‘write it right’ weeks, meticulous record keeping, senior-junior English student buddy system, and course outline templates for each taught course that include clear institutional expectations of the student about plagiarism. Dr Barnhart recommended that we build personal relationships with students and to handle first offences as more meaningful ‘teaching/learning moments’. He then reminded us of the responsibility of higher education not only to teach subject matter but to shape people to an ethical standard. However some of us were still mulling over exactly how to build personal relationships in classes of 200–500 students. Dr Barnhart’s 2004 figure of 52 reported cases of plagiarism at an institution with 20,000 students impressed but left me musing over the number of reporting staff that has been shown elsewhere to be unimpressively low at less than 20%. Nonetheless, the speaker’s captivating monologue, thankfully devoid of even one PowerPoint® slide, left
the audience richer for a North American approach to an international problem. Helen Marsden from the University of South Australia in her talk Re-inventing ethical education in Australia: Too ocker for honour picked up on Dr Barnhart’s message following up with figures from studies by the CAI and others which show that the long tradition of ‘honour codes’ at North American HE institutions prove effective in reducing the rate of plagiarism and that at selected institutions the honour system is even run entirely by students. Helen is founding chair of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Educational Integrity and co-editor of the newly launched, open access International Journal for Educational Integrity. Well worth a visit! Generally hard-pressed to choose just the right session while avoiding mini tornadoes and torrential downpours, I was never disappointed with the presentations that proved refreshingly engaging and surprisingly candid. Presenters didn’t hesitate to share their daily struggles with ‘encrusted institutional policy’, ‘detached administration’, ‘soft marking trends’, ‘dumbing down’ and ‘commercialisation of education in an environment in which international students are regarded as cash cows by money strapped universities’. This sounded frightfully familiar to us and usually spurred heated debate, generally with no happy ending. Tracey Bretag, University of South Australia, came to the worrying conclusion in her PhD research paper Implementing plagiarism policy in the internationalised university that internationalisation is based on an economic rationale where the fee-paying status of students is more important than their academic credentials and she asked the audience ‘Are we committed to educating students or just to collecting the dollar?’ The University of Newcastle’s lecturer Simon (known to us for his bare feet!) traced students cheating in online exams by using font colour markers and he openly denounced remote online tests as a reliable form of assessment. Ursula McGowan, University of Adelaide, shared her views that universities put themselves at great risk of making a mockery of their earnestness in defending educational integrity unless more consistent penalties for cheating and fraud are enforced. 70% of US students admit to plagiarising at least some of the time, according to a recent survey by McCabe (2005). She criticised the prevalent focus of institutions on the ‘offenders’ rather than investing more resources to support students in a period of ‘apprenticeship into
the academic culture, its conventions and its multiple languages’. The University of Adelaide’s Centre for Learning and Professional Development advocates a twofold approach to the problem, in which consistent disciplinary measures are enforced and educational measures include assessment practices providing marking criteria that specify the nature of preferred and valued reference material (eg ‘provides at least x references from reputable journals’ or ‘critiques internet sources in terms of x’). Turnitin® is used as a diagnostic and lecturers are encouraged to use the originality reports of draft assignments to showcase good and bad examples of referencing practice that are then discussed in class. By far the most thought-provoking presentation, albeit much too early for me at 9am, was the keynote delivered by Professor Tom A Angelo, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, best known for his book Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers (1993). After opening his talk in fluent Maori and promising not to strain us with the dreaded ‘PowerPoint® Karaoke’, Professor Angelo captured us with verses from Robert Burns and Kurt Lewin, bouncing thoughts back and forth between himself, prominent educational psychologists and the audience. He warned text-matching service users not to let a software package become an ‘airport screening’ tool and institutions in general not to treat educational integrity as a legal or administrative problem as it is ‘both inadequate and ultimately damaging to the academic values they seek to protect’. Central to his talk Treating educational integrity as an academic challenge however was his conviction that academic integrity required students to develop critical thinking skills and, therefore, us as educators to recognise students’ different levels of cognitive development. The Ways of knowing was first described by W G Perry as the distinct path students take from first-year to graduation, in which the brain matures fully only by the early twenties; first-years still very fact-focused and in pursuit of certainty (‘Tell me
how to cite and which one referencing style to use’) and only by graduation capable of recognising and respecting sets of discipline related rules (‘I will need to use different referencing styles, but there are style manuals to follow’). If in this period of cognitive growth a sense of community and mutual respect hasn’t been instilled by the institution (most effectively in group discussion and reflection) students dangerously run the risk of plagiarising. This begs the question ‘When are academics given the opportunity to meaningfully discuss and develop academic integrity with their students?’ I travelled to Australia with mixed expectations and have returned with a series of emotions: trepidation at the missing ethical framework within which some of us work; disappointment at commercial interests driving university programmes; fear of the implications of both and not only for education; awe at the pockets of good practice; admiration for the outspoken presenters; and hope that this community of practitioners will remain defiant and close-knit in defending tools, practices and policies in order to return to higher education some of what has already been lost. I look forward to seeing familiar faces at the 2nd International JISC Plagiarism Conference in June 2006 – another rewarding opportunity to further awareness and understanding of a serious problem, only this time much closer to home! Reference McCabe D (June 2005) Center for Academic Integrity Assessment Project Research [last accessed May 2006] Editor’s note: conference papers and abstracts are now available from the conference website. Napier’s revised Student Disciplinary Regulations, approved by Academic Board on 26 May 2006, move us closer to harmony with many of the aspirations reflected in this conference report.
Review corner Two book reviews for this quarter’s tfj from Allison Alexander and Janis Greig Allison Alexander, Lecturer and Teaching Fellow, School of Community Health, Faculty of Health, Life & Social Sciences, reviews Working Ethics: how to be fair in a culturally complex world by Richard Rowson (2006) London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers ISBN 1-85302-750-2 198pp Philosophy and the world of work rarely come together! In this book Richard Rowson, a philosopher from the University of Glamorgan, rather ambitiously attempts to bring the two together and to provide an ethical foundation for the work undertaken by a range of professionals and professional groups. The professions which concern him are in the area of public service. According to Rowson this includes health and social care, police and criminal justice, education and those whose work is concerned with the built environment, for example architects. The book is divided into three parts: Part 1 – Seeking ethical values for the professions Part 2 – Exploring values Part 3 – Applying values to practice. From the outset Rowson provides the ethical foundation, as he sees it, upon which all professionals working for the ‘public good’ should base their ethical decision making. This foundation is based on four principles namely, Fairness; respect for Autonomy; Integrity; and the most beneficial and least harmful Results (FAIR). For many readers and students of ethics these principles will not be new but his subsequent exploration of them and attempt to fit them to such a diverse range of professions may well be. In the introduction to the book, as well as indicating the basis of his four-principle approach, Rowson acknowledges that professionals in practice have statutory obligations, professional codes of practice and a raft of policies and guidance within which they must operate. He explains that such guidance is not considered within the current text but that the ethical decision-making he is concerned with is that ‘where such requirements do not prescribe what professionals should do’ (p14). This is particularly problematic for
both professionals and teachers of professional ethics as it is difficult to envisage practice situations where a professional is presented with an ethical dilemma that does not require reference to the aforementioned guidance. In fact, many of the examples he uses in subsequent chapters are examples where legal and professional codes would apply. A further omission is a failure to explicate what the author means by ‘a culturally complex world’ or to identify the particular challenges such a world poses for professionals when it comes to ethical decision-making. Part 1 of the book provides a good grounding in ethical theory which would be useful to readers unfamiliar with some of the more basic concepts. The discussion at times, ironically given the title of the book, is rather academic in nature and lacks application to the world of work. The questions posed at the end of each of the chapters in this and the subsequent parts of the book are thought-provoking and would provide useful material to use with students to explore their own personal ethics and how these might or might not be accommodated within their chosen profession. In Part 2 the author sets out in more detail each of the elements of his ethical foundation. He begins with an examination of working to ensure that the ‘best results’ are achieved and explores various aspects of this including whether the previously well-established philosophy of creating ‘the greatest amount of happiness’ is appropriate in the public sector. He also presents and analyses the QALY (quality adjusted life year) equation from healthcare ethics to illustrate an attempt to ‘objectively’ predict and measure results. Two chapters in this section are taken up with a further examination of treating people justly and fairly. At times this discussion centres on how to ensure people in receipt of services are treated fairly while at others the discussion focuses on fairness within the profession, for example whether all members of the profession should be paid equally or whether those with a large number of children should be paid more. This dual approach is adopted throughout the book and raises interesting issues rarely addressed in other ethical texts. The elements of autonomy and integrity are examined in the final two chapters of part two. Autonomy will be a familiar concept to many and Rowson treads familiar ground when discussing the need to respect peoples’ autonomy and the difficulties involved when an autonomous decision clashes with what the professional thinks the best course of action might be. The chapter on integrity focuses on confidentiality and raises the important
area of ‘whistleblowing’ in public services. Rowson discusses this in detail and concludes that in some circumstances public sector employees are ethically justified in publicly disclosing information about their employer. Most professionals will probably turn to Part 3 first in the hope of finding answers to the complex problems that they face in their day-to-day work. Although they may be slightly disappointed (there is no ethical holy grail) Rowson does provide some practical suggestions for the resolution of dilemmas using his suggested framework and a step-by-step guide to analysing a particular situation. Disappointingly, however, this section does not contain a lot of examples of the framework applied to the various professional groups that the book is aimed at. Indeed throughout the book Rowson’s use of examples is generally limited; his most convincing are those drawn from Higher Education and his use of physical healthcare examples is adequate but those whose professional life lies in the built environment may claim to have been ‘unfairly’ treated. Indeed the generic nature of this book, although initially intriguing, ultimately limits its utility.
Janis Greig, Lecturer and Teaching Fellow, School of Community Health, Faculty of Health, Life & Social Sciences, reviews Writing for Academic Journals by Rowena Murray (2004) Maidenhead: Open University Press ISBN 0-33521392-8 240pp Before you scream ‘not another self-help manual!’, read on! This is the latest offering by the author of How to Write a Thesis and How to Survive Your Viva both ably reviewed by Linda Dryden in the Teaching Fellows Journal of June–August 2003 and December 2003– February 2004 respectively. Rowena Murray is known internationally for her work in academic practice and more particularly for her ‘can do’ and motivating writing style. The target markets here are writers and academics particularly, but not solely, new writers with the aim of ‘addressing the key challenges in writing academic papers in terms of actual writing practices’ (page xii). This book is therefore distinguished from others on the subject because it seeks to change the process of writing itself. Writing for academic journals is usually seen to be discipline-specific but Murray emphasises generic skills based on sound research and practice-based
strategies. Having said that, the book is very accessible with a clarity of style which owes much to its being remarkably jargon-free. It is written in the second person at times, directly addressing the reader complementing the style of Murray’s previous two books. This may irritate the purists but seems congruent with the call to action and pragmatic approach within. In a mini-survey amongst my colleagues, the two most commonly used adjectives to describe Murray’s style are ‘readable’ and ‘practical’. Do not be put off by this – this book is not reductionist and can be accessed at different levels for different purposes. The whole process of writing academic papers is unpicked in a logical sequence of nine chapters in 223 pages ending in an extensive bibliography. Each chapter has multiple sub-headings ‘chunking’ up the text which is peppered with salient quotes, activity boxes and exercises designed to encourage personal reflection. Each chapter ends with a mini-summary of key points as a check-list. The introduction is sub-titled ‘Beyond reason and vanity’ and, right from the start, there is a depth of knowledge in evidence not just about writing itself but about the self-doubt and vulnerability of academic writers, their ‘personal motives and professional imperatives’ (page 1). The degree of understanding and empathy for the barriers and constraints affecting new writers is very powerfully implied and continues throughout the book. Chapter 1 (Why write?) starts from basic reasons for writing and publishing and also for not writing. It encourages exploration of internal and external drivers with Murray outlining the negative thinking that can accompany the attempt to start academic writing. This section resonated with me and enhanced personal reflection. Chapter 2 (Targeting a journal) covers analysis of journal genre where the aim is to ‘become a scholar of the journal’ (page 50). Murray uses the excellent phrase ‘joining the conversation’ (page 59) and this for me validated and gave perspective to my own novice research and tentative writing efforts. The core concept of freewriting is introduced in Chapter 3 (Finding a topic and developing an argument) and contrasted with generative and academic writing. Again Murray acknowledges ‘the internal prompts that can inhibit writing’ (page 84). She proposes the writing sandwich approach as a positive ‘talk & write’ cycle to motivate the writer and
refine the topic by interspersing writing and discussion with a ‘buddy, mentor or critic’ (page 91). This seems to me a creative learning strategy not only for staff writers but also for use with students in the early stages of research or project work. I found chapter 4 (Outlining) about using specific prompt questions to add structure when writing abstracts particularly useful and have adapted it for successful work with level 10 dissertation students. Similarly, the sections in chapters 5 (Drafting) and 6 (Revising the draft) on the use of link words to provide paragraph structure and strengthen argument are wonderfully succinct. This type of ‘how to’ content appears in other books on academic writing skills but never more explicitly stated than here.
Chapter 7 (Finding time to write) addresses the thorny issue of making time for writing and planning. In many ways, I feel this should have come earlier since it is surely one of the most likely factors militating against writing especially when trying to get started. Planning and realistic goal setting acknowledge the likely pitfalls for new writers while chapters 8 (Dialogue and feedback) and 9 (Responding to reviewer’s feedback) deal with the challenges of amendment or rejection in a constructive, positive, problem-solving way. Overall this is an engaging and energising book which has many possible uses for staff and students, at levels from novice to the more experienced writer. I can’t remember the last time I had such a positive, and indeed emotional, response to a work of non-fiction.
Web spotlight The Mycoted website is a wiki (ie a collaboratively edited site that anyone can add to or edit) dedicated to creativity and innovation that is ‘open to all - and can be written by all’ It contains tools, techniques, puzzles, book reviews, training and lots more all dedicated to creativity and innovation. Creativity techniques – an A to Z contains over 180 articles as varied as Brainstorming, Lateral Thinking, Mind Mapping, Relaxation and Using Crazy
Ideas. You can add your own content simply by clicking the Edit button on each page (but first try the easy-tofollow Tutorial that takes you through the simple steps required to edit the wiki). Other interesting pages include Puzzles, Creativity Quotations and Book Reviews. Take a look at Mycoted, perhaps add some ideas of your own, and bookmark this interesting wiki for stimulating future reference.
Restored web version of the Edinburgh Napier University Teaching Fellows Journal