Specialist option: Training, mentoring & developing others

There is strong and sustained evidence that effective mentoring is associated with positive personal and career outcomes for mentees and mentors such as accelerated promotion rates and career mobility; enhanced professional identity and competence; improved levels of career satisfaction; a sense of greater acceptance within their organization’ and decreased job stress.  In addition, there are benefits to mentors such as personal satisfaction, career revitalization, recognition by their organization for capacity development and joy of shaping future generations. Furthermore, there are organizational benefits of successful mentoring, including fostering retention; improving productivity; and developing new leaders (Johnson & Ridley, 2018).

I am passionate about training, mentoring and developing others using technological advancements. Below are two examples of the same:

  • ‘E-mentoring’ of academics using ‘DARP model’
  • Talk About Teaching and Learning (TATAL): face to face and virtual approach

a) E-mentoring of academics using DARP model:

Description: Modern mentoring is developing through the employment of technology and thus it is important to better understand these new opportunities and their limitations. I have been working with Prof Chris Tisdell from the University of New South Wales from the past three years. We have developed a mentoring model which theoretically grounded in Kolb’s experiential learning cycle (Kolb, 1984). Kolb’s learning cycle begins by a person carrying out a task; reflecting on that experience and then applying the leaning in a new situation. One of the critiques of Kolb’s learning cycle is that it ignores the non-experiential ways of learning and pays insufficient attention to goals, purposes, intentions, choice, and decision-making which are also a part of learning. Our model for mentor-mentee engagement is called “DARP” it stands for: Discussion, Archive, Reflect and Prepare, this model is designed to foster a cycle of reflection for academic development and growth using innovation in technology.

Discussion – element forms the first part of the process and can be facilitated through a structured meeting between the mentee and mentor. Archive – represents the creation of a record or artifact that captures the preceding discussion between mentee and mentor. This is a crucial component as research highlights the existence of false memories, remembering events very differently from the way they happened (Roediger & McDermott, 1995). Reflect – module indicates the mentee and the mentor reflecting on their actions from their earlier discussion. Prepare – forms the final element of DARP and is used as an opportunity to generate new plans, learning, and ideas to be discussed at the next meeting between mentor and mentee. This model is designed to foster a cycle of reflection for academic development and growth using innovation in technology. DARP model is in alignment with the five-stage model proposed by Gilly Salmon, essentially towards supporting participants in a structured developmental process and scaffold their capacity development in ‘e-tivities’ (https://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html).

Shared decision making between mentor and mentee and emphasis on the purpose and goal of the relationship is significant in the DARP model.  

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This manuscript is currently under review with International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Archive of 18 months Google Hangout on air via YouTube meetings:

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This model was presented during the HERDSA 2018 Conference as a showcase presentation.

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Within New Zealand, this work was presented during the Scholarship of Technology Enhanced Learning (SOTEL) mini-symposium.

Reflection:

  1. I have been practicing this model from the past 3 years and see its potential in transforming academic mentoring process especially when ‘mentor’ and ‘mentee’ are not in the same physical space and time zone.
  2. Technology plays a significantly important role in capturing an accurate representation of the meeting by creating a record or artifact that captures the discussion between participants to reflect and develop further. This is a crucial component as research highlights the existence of false memories, remembering events very differently from the way they happened (Roediger & McDermott, 1995).
  3. I am currently mentoring a few academics from Australia towards their HERDSA fellowship and several early career academics globally using the DARP model through innovation in technology to facilitate their growth and development.
  4. We engage in regular structured mentoring meetings which are archived using Google Hangout on Air via YouTube, these archives are used for reflection as they represent the accurate discussion happened between mentee and mentor.
  5. My experience and their feedback complement each other and suggest multiple benefit especially towards facilitating overall growth of participants and making them a deeper reflective practitioner.
  6. This process has given me a platform to facilitate professional development by engaging in activities such as promotion applications, teaching awards, and curriculum re-design by working alongside academics. Similar sentiments are documented in the literature about the positive personal and career outcomes for mentees and mentors (Johnson & Ridley, 2018). Through this process, I have learned to appreciate disciplinary differences, signature pedagogies and the wider context of higher education.
  7. As a mentor, I strive to create a collegial and collaborative environment for my mentees to grow professionally. I raise relevant questions and offer support based on the unique needs of academics.

b) Talk About Teaching and Learning (TATAL)

Description: Running since 2008, Talk about Teaching and Learning (TATAL) is an international community of practice workshop (face to face and online) attracting global participants. The aim of this workshop is to develop cohorts of reflective practitioners. Participants reflect on and share their learning and teaching experiences while developing networks with practitioners from other institutions.  Since 2016, I have been working as a passionate TATALer. I have facilitated annual TATAL face to face workshops, in Sydney (HERDSA 2017) and Adelaide (HERDSA 2018).

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TATAL Facilitators 2017 ‘Selfie time’ after the long day of workshop

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I also had the opportunity to work virtually with participants of TATAL to facilitate their professional learning and development. Since 2016 I am actively involved in monthly Skype meetings with TATAL participants (15 participants from Australasian universities). The overarching goal of these virtual meetings is to assist academics to develop their own teaching and learning portfolio. I have been involved in reviewing their written work and offering constructive inquiries to facilitate them to be more reflective about their own academic practice.

Reflection: I learned that creating a safe space and connecting with other’s values and believes during an online environment can be different compared to face to face. I had the opportunity to meet all the online participants in advance during the face to face workshop and this was helpful. However, I start the virtual meetings by refreshing on the psychological contact we developed along with other participants during the face to face workshop.

Based on my experience, face-to-face and virtual environment are not exclusive. They can complement each other, which forms the foundation of blended learning theory (Khine & Lourdusamy, 2003). Using innovation in technology along with the face-to-face and virtual learning environment can be beneficial for learning and growth. We experimented with this idea in TATAL as well. In 2016 and 2017 TATAL was predominantly face-to-face annual workshop followed by virtual monthly meetings, however, in 2018, we planned a flipped TATAL face to face workshop. We used a combination of online as well as the face-to-face workshop.

We created a Moodle webpage on the University of South Australia site outlining the TATAL activities.  I created online modules outlining the significance of teaching philosophy statement and HERDSA fellowship in professional development via shooting YouTube videos. Participants enrolled online, and they were to engage with the online content with facilitators generating online engagement and discussion few weeks leading up to the face to face workshop. Reflecting on this experience, i was anxious while trailing the blended model, especially for the virtual component. However i felt at ease once we started the process and i guess its the fear of failure when we want to try something out of our comfort zone. Based on this experience going forward in 2019 i will enter into blended TATAL format more confidently.

Reflecting on my facilitator’s role in the past three year, being instrumental in mentoring others for their professional growth and development has made me a better academic who appreciates creating stronger academic community for taking the field forward. One of the key learning from my TATAL involvement is the significance of ‘Alignment’. Alignment between pedagogy, technology, content, assessments, learning activities and overall curriculum is a must for making learning a transformative experience as outlined by research done by Mishra, 2006.

 References:

  • Johnson, W. B., & Ridley, C. R. (2018). The Elements of Mentoring: 75 Practices of Master Mentors.
  • Khine, M., & Lourdusamy, A. (2003). Blended learning approach in teacher education: combining face‐to‐face instruction, multimedia viewing, and online discussion. British Journal of Educational Technology, 34(5), 671-675.
  • Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. . (2006). Technological pedagogical content knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. . Teachers college record, 108(6), 1017.
  • Salmon, G. The five-stage model (https://www.gillysalmon.com/five-stage-model.html)
  • Roediger, H. L., & McDermott, K. B. (1995). Creating false memories: Remembering words not presented in lists. Journal of experimental psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 21(4), 803.