Assessment Item 2 requires you to draw on the knowledge and insights you have gained in the unit to resolve a socio-cultural pedagogical problem likely to be encountered by a graduate teacher in a school or educational setting. Specifically, the task asks you to devise a hypothetical Socio-cultural Pedagogical Situation derived from one of the unit topics and develop a socio-cultural Pedagogical Initiative or plan in response. The task also asks you to prepare a theoretically-informed Rationale from the unit research literature to justify your Situation and Initiative.
The following sections provide advice on how to approach the assessment task and how to organise and structure your response to it.
Approaching the Task
1. Choose a unit lecture topic in which you have an interest or one which you would like to explore further.
2. Research the topic from the perspective of the unit. This means (re-) reading relevant chapters from the unit textbook; reading relevant QUT Readings; consulting associated reference lists; reviewing unit lectures. Utilizing this and cognate unit literature will ensure you are on track to meet approved unit outcomes. This literature will also form the basis of your theoretically-informed Rationale.
3. Devise a practical Socio-cultural Pedagogical Situation from the unit literature. Some imagination is required here, but the unit literature will contribute to your ideas. Don’t pre-empt this process by using a Situation–Initiative combination that you may have ‘prepared earlier’. A Situation–Initiative developed prior to researching the topic will most likely not accord with the very specific socio-cultural concerns of the unit. You also need to ensure that your Situation is pedagogical. That is, it should be concerned with a problem related to teaching, curriculum or assessment and not with, say, counselling, public administration or events management which are not the core business of a classroom teacher even though they may be tangential to it at times. To this effect, your Situation should be both ‘visible’ (able to be witnessed by to a third party) and plausible (in terms of the likelihood of it being encountered by, and able to be addressed by, a graduate teacher).
The following Socio-cultural Pedagogical Situation—derived from the unit topic on ‘Social Class and Education’—might give you an idea of the sort of problem in question:
A group of underprivileged students in the Year 10 Science class I have been contracted to teach for the year is consistently underachieving on their summative assessment tasks at the end of each Science unit. It is clear that this is not because they don’t know or understand the material: they generally respond correctly to my questions in class, and generally come up with the correct solutions to problems in the lab. A closer inspection of the assessment tasks, however, which were left for me by the Year 10 teacher I have replaced, suggests that the problem could lie in the language of the tests themselves. The
BLACKBOARD ‘ASSESSMENT’ MENU ITEM*
directions on the test papers are very official and ‘magisterial’ which could be making it difficult for a number of the students in my class to understand. Moreover, the Science problems themselves utilize multi-barrelled questions and are couched in a formal language characterized by elaborate syntax and polysyllabic words which are not part of the Science knowledge being tested.
Clearly, the above scenario is a socio-cultural pedagogical problem. It involves high status, social class cultural capital distorting the assessment instruments in a school subject area. As a consequence, student success in the subject is based less on students’ knowledge and understanding of the actual content of the subject than it is on students’ possession of high status cultural capital—in this case, a knowledge of, and familiarity with, the elaborated language forms and cultural experiences of the middle class.
It is important, then, for your Socio-cultural Pedagogical Situation to be both ‘socio-cultural’ and ‘pedagogical’. It also should be visible as well as plausible, given your status as a graduate teacher. You should formulate you Situation so that the Initiative you develop in response is achievable—and that this is able to be demonstrated on the pages of your assignment. Moreover, don’t complicate your Situation by layering it with multiple problems or by attempting to ‘bridge’ two or more topics in the unit.
4. Develop a practical, socio-cultural Pedagogical Initiative in response to the Situation. Such Initiatives are, of course, innumerable and may comprise anything from learning experiences or curriculum resources to a design for learning spaces and experiences inside and/or outside of the classroom. When deciding on your Initiative, however, you should keep a number of things in mind.
First, the Initiative should complement the socio-cultural nature of the problem as one located in a complex mosaic of cultural practices, forces and innovations. For this reason, Initiatives which seek individualistic psychological ends (e.g. raising self-esteem, enhancing feelings), quasi-commercial ends (e.g. enhanced entrepreneurialization, improved cost-benefit performance), or technical-administrative ends (e.g. more efficient routines, procedures or operations) would be inappropriate.
Second, the Initiative should be proportionate to the Situation. Given that the Situation is serious, recurring or deep-seated enough for you to develop a pedagogical initiative in response (as opposed to something more fleeting), it is unlikely that a one-off learning activity or single activity sheet will address the problem. Your Initiative, then, should be substantial and may involve implementation of various elements over time.
Finally, the Initiative needs to demonstrate—practically and pedagogically—how it will address the Socio-cultural Pedagogical Situation (as opposed to merely asserting that it will). For this reason, you will need to provide evidence of your Initiative in the form of concrete examples from the pedagogical methods, techniques or resources that comprise your Initiative. Another aspect of the Initiative is that, at appropriate points throughout the discussion, you would support your claims by reference to the literature cited in your Rationale.
Additional advice on developing ‘Situation-Initiative’ couples from a number of the topics in the unit is included in the Appendix to this Guide.