Research Agenda

I’ve now been in Sydney for a month (!) and in my new post at UTS for ~3 weeks. In that time I’ve of course been settling in to Sydney, and the role, meeting people and trying to get my head into the UTS context. One thing I’ve been thinking about is how to express my research agenda in terms of ‘writing analytics’ at UTS, a kind of breakdown of the sorts of interests I have, and how that ties into my previous work (and a broad onward narrative).  So, I would broadly characterise my research agenda across three themes (thoughts welcome):

  1. Focus: My primary work investigates how people think about knowledge (their epistemic cognition), using writing practices as a lens onto that. Writing practices, here, are broadly construed to include activities such as: Information seeking; reading; annotation; writing itself (both the process and the output); and self and peer assessment.
    1. Why: Literacy, including the ability to communicate effectively in written form, is key to full participation in society. It involves the abilities to seek and identify claims, understand source qualities, and integrate information from across multiple (sometimes competing) sources. How people think about these processes, their evaluative standards, beliefs about how knowledge is inter-related, and the nature of expertise and knowledge construction, are bound up with their behaviours. Analysis of the kinds of practices engaged in around writing is an important part of understanding how to support advanced literacy skills in students.

    2. Examples: I am interested in developing research that addresses the kinds of: experimental paradigms, such as multiple document processing tasks, to investigate student writing; analytic techniques to explore semantic and meta-discourse properties of written outputs, and their relation to source documents; analysis of writing processes, including collaborative and temporal analyses (see some resources here); and assessment tools to explore the best methods for feedback and constructive peer and self-assessment or calibrated peer review.

  2. Focus: I am also interested in collaborative knowledge practices, including co-writing, giving of formative feedback, and joint enterprise on the processes above.

    1. Why: I see epistemic cognition and learning as fundamentally collaborative, socioculturally embedded activities. I’m interested in knowledge as discursively situated, as both constitutive of and constituted in discourse practices. In addition, effective collaboration can play a key role in improving learning outcomes. Understanding what ‘effective collaboration’ looks like, and how to use new and emerging tools for such analysis, contributes to our support for collaborative knowledge practices in students targeted at developing life-long learning skills.

    2. Examples: I am interested in research around how we measure and assess collaboration in various contexts, what the appropriate units of analysis are, and how this information can be represented to learners effectively. Understanding the ways in which collaborative writing practices differ from, and extend (or perhaps limit) individual writing is also of interest.

  3. Focus: In all of my work I’ll be interested in considerations of underlying policy, practice, and ‘learning infrastructure’ issues. The wider context of our work is important, and central to CIC’s mission.
    1. Why: Taking a systems approach entails thinking about how people interact within particular contexts, thinking about how research can be applied in real world contexts, and looking at the broad set of needs in human-centered design – for example, not just developing an analytic technology, but thinking about how it fits into pedagogy, and how it support actionable feedback.

    2. Examples: I am particularly interested in research that will develop effective participatory methods of developing learning analytic techniques in partnership with key stakeholders, methods for integrating learning analytics in learning design, and consideration of effective behavioural interventions arising from learning analytics. I’m also interested in work around human-data-interaction, and quantified self in education, and potential for a kind of playful approach to learner data (see: dear-learner).

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