Summer 2020 Course – EDER 705: Doctoral Seminar in Educational Leadership

June 18, 2020

EDER 705 L01 2020I am excited to be teaching two summer courses starting at the end of June. One of them is this course:

EDER 705: Doctoral Seminar in Educational Leadership

Course Description:

Provides doctoral students with a contemporary Canadian focus on significant issues in educational leadership.

Extended Course Description:

This course is an introduction to educational leadership as a specialized field of scholarship and professional practice. It provides a historical overview of the study of educational leadership to develop understandings of significant perspectives, concepts, and theories as they pertain to current educational organizations.

Learner Outcomes:

The course readings, topics, and learning tasks have been chosen to help students to:

  • familiarize themselves with diverse historical and contemporary theoretical perspectives/paradigms in educational administration and leadership;
  • critically examine educational issues using current research literature to understand differing assumptions, values, and methods that are used to study and understand education; and
  • develop an in-depth understanding of their own assumptions and beliefs about the value and role of leadership practice in public education.

Course Design and Delivery: 

This course will be offered fully online, using D2L and Zoom.

This course is only available to students enrolled in the Doctor of Education program. If you are interested in learning more about our graduate program offerings, check out the Werklund School of Education web page.

Applications for next year open in September 2020. It’s not too early to start planning for 2021!

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Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD, is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary.


3 Reasons why proctoring an exam using Zoom is a bad idea

March 31, 2020

Lots of people have been asking me about using Zoom to proctor exams. I’ve taught over 100 online courses, between the graduate courses I’ve taught for the Werklund School of Education and dozens of continuing education courses.

Combining that experience with research expertise in academic integrity, I can say that using Zoom to proctor written exams is a bad idea. Here’s why:

1. Zoom is not a substitute for a professional proctoring service

Professional proctoring services are sophisticated, both in terms of technology and operations. Asking an individual professor to proctor an online exam using Zoom as a makeshift solution is a bad idea. Most instructors are not trained on how to proctor online exams.

Given that some instructors are also working from home, while managing child care and family responsibilities, it is even less likely that they could do an excellent job of online invigilation, especially for a large class.

2. Creates additional technology barriers for students

Not all students have web cams or reliable Internet service. Requiring students to have cameras on and stream video during an exam could put some students at a technological disadvantage. If you suddenly require them to buy a web cam, you could be adding financial stress to the equation as well.

At our university, we cannot penalize students if they do not have a video camera. If you did not tell students at the time they registered for the course that a web cam would be required for the course, it is unethical to suddenly make it a requirement partway through the course. If we want students to act with integrity, we must demonstrate integrity in how we run our courses… Changing the rules as you go along just isn’t ethical.

3. Things are not always as they seem

My colleague, D’Arcy Norman, shared this post on how and why the video feed is not necessarily trustworthy. Go read his post. Watch his video. They try it yourself and see how easy it is to create a video background that makes it look like you’re in front of your camera when you’re not. (Hint: It is really easy.)

Besides, if an instructor suspects exam misconduct are they going to use Zoom as their evidence? How would they actually be able to prove it? I mean unless a student has crib notes out in plain view, the case management for that could get messy fast. Chances are high, I would say, that an allegation of academic misconduct could be dismissed (in the student’s favour) if the evidence is not strong enough.

There are few benefits and many potential complications with using Zoom to proctor written exams, especially for large classes. Of course, the exception to this would be individual oral exam where the student interacts in real time with the examiner. That could be do-able via Zoom. In the case of graduate student thesis defences, it may be the only option, but the examination committee must take steps to verify the identity of the student if they are not personally known to at least one of the examiners.

My recommendation is to consider alternate assessments if possible. If it is not possible, then consider a professional online exam proctoring service. Trying to use Zoom to MacGyver your exam invigilation of written tests is probably not going to serve the purpose of upholding integrity.

Note: This post was updated on April 13, 2020 to clarify that I am specifically referring to written exams in this post.

Related posts:

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary.


Supporting struggling pre-service teachers: A guide for mentor teachers

January 9, 2020

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In 2017 I joined a project led my my colleague, Dr. Amy Burns, in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. 

The project was called “Pre-service teachers at risk: Intervention strategies for and by teachers“. It was funded by the Alberta Advisory Committee for Educational Studies (AACES).

The primary question our research addressed was: (RQ1) What strategies do in-service teachers employ to support struggling pre-service teachers in field education?

A secondary question addressed was: (RQ2) How can postsecondary institutions better facilitate placements where a pre-service teacher is struggling before the field placement begins, given the legislative restrictions that exist with regard to privacy?

The research is complete now and as a result, we have developed an entirely open access educational resource to help both pre-service teachers (e.g. teacher trainees) and the mentor teachers they work with. Here are the key themes we identified through our research:

  1. Don’t Do This Job in Isolation: Seek Support
  2. Guide and Model What You Want to See
  3. Provide Immediate and Frequent Feedback
  4. Communicate: Early, Often, Directly, Honestly, and Clearly
  5. Remember the Big Picture
  6. Set Clear and High Expectations
  7. Support Engagement in Self-Reflection
  8. Reflect on the Preservice Teacher’s Difficulties
  9. Recognize Early Warning Signs and Don’t Ignore Them
  10. Identify the Preservice Teacher’s Current Skill Level
  11. Create Goals

 

Download a full copy of the resource free of charge here:

Burns, A., Eaton, S. E., Gereluk, D., Mueller, K., & Craig, H. L. (2019). Supporting Struggling Pre-Service Teachers: A Guide for Mentor Teachers. Retrieved from Calgary, AB: http://hdl.handle.net/1880/111439

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, and the Educational Leader in Residence, Academic Integrity, University of Calgary, Canada. Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the University of Calgary.


My Teaching Story: Celebrating 25 Years

September 4, 2018

Sarah Elaine Eaton - 2018-09-03a-small.jpgThis 2018-2019 academic year I celebrate my 25th year of teaching in higher education.

Here’s an overview of what that looks like:

  • Years as a sessional instructor: 22
  • Years as a full-time faculty member: 2 completed. Entering Year 3
  • Number of educational institutions: 2 institutions for credit courses; 4 institutions for non-credit courses
  • Number of additional organizations where I have given workshops or individual training sessions: I can’t remember or count
  • Levels taught: Undergraduate, graduate, continuing education, non-credit workshops, teacher training, employee training
  • Number of students taught: A few thousand, at least, but I haven’t kept track.
  • Current position: Assistant Professor (tenure-track)

Like many academics, my career has zig-zagged. My first teaching experience was as a Master’s level graduate teaching assistant. I was a brand-new graduate student. I was given a class list and a textbook and told, “Here. Go teach.”

Even though my official title was “Graduate Teaching Assistant” (“TA” for short), I was also what is called the “Instructor of Record”. That means that I was officially responsible for the entire course, including developing the course outline, all instruction, tests, examinations and grading.

I’ve heard that it is no longer permitted for TAs to be the “instructor of record” and that TAs actually need to have some support and mentoring now. Back when I started, graduate TAs were largely left on their own, to do the same work as professors, at a much lower pay rate.

I remember attending a day-and-a-half training session before my first teaching assignment. It was largely focused on learning styles, which has since become a highly contested concept. Things have changed for the better since then. TAs (at our institution at least), get training and mentoring along the way. They are supervised by the Instructor of Record, which means they get to learn how to teach in a less risky, more supported environment.

The following spring and summer, I was hired to teach the same course again, but because spring and summer courses were handled by a different administrative unit at the university at that time, my title changed to “sessional instructor”, which remains the typical term for this type of appointment in Canada. This classification goes by different names depending where you are. Some synonyms include:

  • part-time contingent faculty
  • part-time lecturer
  • contract faculty
  • adjunct lecturer
  • adjunct professor
  • adjunct faculty

For more than two decades I worked as sessional instructor, sometimes teaching up to ten credit courses per year, supplemented by teaching continuing education courses, workshops and employee training sessions. I taught at any institution or organization that would hire me. I also took on other work in an educational context such as program evaluation and even did clerical work in educational institutions.

This year, I will celebrate my 25th year of teaching. Because of the patchwork nature of my career, no one has kept track of this experience but me. And even I have lost track of the number of organizations where I’ve taught workshops or short-term courses. I began teaching at a time before computerized HR records were kept, and everything was done on paper. Even I don’t have every contract letter or pay stub from every teaching gig I’ve ever had.

In 2016, I was hired as a full-time Assistant Professor (tenure track), for which I am truly grateful. Not long after I started in my full-time role I had lunch with one of my former professors from my Master’s program, who is now a colleague. I recall her saying, “You did it! Most people give up, but you didn’t!” She’s right. I didn’t give up. I love teaching and I believe it as much a calling as it is a career. I am enjoying my career now more than ever.

My curriculum vitae cannot accurately show that for 22 years, I travelled from one institution or organization to the next, sometimes teaching for three different places in the same day and the number of hours in any given day that I worked often exceeded what is typically regarded as “full-time hours”. It was a patchwork of part-time jobs that allowed me to pay the bills.

Twenty-two years is a long, long time to spend without job security, benefits or a pension. People who have had their full-time teaching jobs for a long time can’t relate to that kind of life. I have had colleagues who have had full-time roles for a long time share their thinly-veiled assumption that if you’re good enough, you can get a full-time job. That may be true to a certain degree, but there are other factors that can come into play. If one is not able to move to a new location in order to take on a full-time role, for example, then options become more limited.

Other colleagues have declared that “Sessionals are not faculty!”, dismissing their opinions, views or contributions to the academy. The underlying point in such an argument is that only those with full-time faculty appointments have legitimate status. Those whose status is uncertain or part-time effectively have “less than” status, which is neither credible, nor legitimate. But I have seen this situation from both sides of the table now: both as a long-term sessional and now as a tenure-track assistant professor.

As I celebrate a quarter of a century of teaching experience this year, I can say one thing for sure: Teachers matter. Whether you are part-time, full-time, and regardless of whatever your title says you are. You are a teacher at heart. You keep your students at the heart of what you do, no matter where you are or who you teach.

For anyone else out there who is currently working as Sessional / Adjunct / Contingent Faculty, let me just say: You are not alone. You work hard. You have grit and tenacity.The work you do is important. You are good enough. Actually, you are more than good enough.

I challenge you to share your own story. What does this academic year mean to you? What do you have to celebrate? What message do you want to share with others? What’s your story? I would love to hear from you!

#academiclife #highered #lifeofanacademic

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.


Participatory Methodology in Education

August 28, 2018

U of C logo - 2015I am excited to be teaching this doctoral level methodology course this fall.

Course Overview:

A survey of educational research methodologies broadly defined as ‘participatory’ – i.e., intended to support the involvement of as many interested and affected agents and agencies as possible and oriented toward meaningful, impactful, and sustainable action.

Course Description:

The aim of this course is to support your understanding of assumptions underpinning a range of theoretical traditions and their relationships to participatory research methodologies. You will examine and locate various theories according to their source and tradition, and will examine these theories against the backdrop of the intellectual traditions from which they originate. In examining each of these theories and their associated methodologies, you will begin to clarify your epistemological, ontological, and axiological stances in relation to participatory research methodologies. This is a reflexive process that will require you to begin to develop an understanding of your role as a researcher and your relationships to your research context and its participants.

This course supports your coming to make sense of the nuanced relationship between the researcher and his or her research context by way of working through the early intricacies of placing the self within the research inquiry. It helps you to understand and challenge the assumptions you bring to research through such questions as: What is the nature of reality? How does a worldview influence a perspective on the nature of knowledge? Where and how does knowledge come to be located and positioned? What knowledge counts as a legitimate way of knowing? What are the variant ways in which we come to know? How do we come to know and understand through different interpretive frameworks?  What are the ways in which knowledge is signified?  How might previous experiences and values influence choices of a research inquiry, a methodology, and associated methods? In looking across these research traditions and methodologies, the intent is for you to delve into their pragmatics and problematics, as well as to develop an understanding of the relationship between methodologies and methods.  To this end, we will examine closely the notion of commensurability in research designs. Throughout this course we will how we come to know what constitutes a research problem, how do we make sense/identify/mark/frame a particular lived experience as being researchable, what is the purpose of your research, what is the importance of the research and what are the ways in which a specific subject matter becomes the focus of inquiry. In particular, the course helps you get situated ethically and conceptually.

 Learning Objectives:

To consider the epistemological, ontological and axiological assumptions within the primary research paradigms and educational research methodologies.

  • To examine the conceptual influences behind participatory methodologies, and distinguish key movements and emphases in participatory methodologies.
  • To articulate an understanding of conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of educational research including the interwoven nature of research questions, research methodology and methods.
  • To partake in a reflexive inquiry concerning your values, perspectives, beliefs, experiences and understandings about research.

Approved Fall 2018 EDER 701.09 L01- Participatory Methodology in Education – Eaton

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This blog has had over 2 million views thanks to readers like you. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” it or share it on social media. Thanks!

Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

Opinions are my own and do not represent those of the Werklund School of Education or the University of Calgary.


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