Now that the “the only constant is change” in society, our capacity to engage with novel challenges is of first order importance. What are the personal dispositions that authentic learning needs to cultivate, and can we make these assessable and visible to learners and educators?
Learning Dispositions are attracting significant attention within educational research, and refer to the habits of mind that shape a learner’s response to challenge. Dispositional Learning Analytics are approaches to assessing these qualities, and providing feedback to learners and educators. Evidence sources include learner self-report, educator observation and behavioural traces.
The CLARA tool is a research validated survey instrument, designed by Ruth Crick (Professor of Learning Analytics & Educational Leadership, School of Education, Institute for Sustainable Futures, & CIC), and deployed globally in diverse contexts by colleagues, many of whom are part of the Learning Emergence network.
CLARA provides immediate feedback to the survey respondent, to provoke reflection on a multidimensional construct called “Learning Power” with eight dimensions: curiosity, creativity, sense making, belonging, collaboration, hope and optimism, mindful agency and openness to change. The UTS Graduate Attributes have a strong resonance with these dimensions.
Two examples of the personal spidergram that is generated from CLARA are shown here, which become a springboard for supported reflection and coaching:
Aggregate views provide statistical summaries of a cohort’s profiles. The research behind CLARA and its predecessors demonstrates that naming these essential personal dispositions, and presenting them visually in a way that invites ‘stretching’ oneself on one or more dimensions, can have great impact. As such it resonates closely with Learning.Futures, offering a way to assess hard to quantify student qualities.
At UTS senior student mentors introduce first year students to fictional students and their profiles, based on archetypes of UTS students. An example of an archetypal student and her profile is shown below. These have proven to be an effective vehicle for helping students understand how learning power connects with their own life stories and habits of mind.
“Hongyan moved to Australia from abroad last year. Her parents want her to go to University and be a medical student so that she can get a respected job and earn a good wage. She is an only child but she is very sociable and has many friends. Her parents have worked really hard to get her here so she feels under pressure make sure she does well at Uni.
She’s a very hard worker – she always got good grades at High School. She diligently listens to what the teacher says and does exactly what she thinks is expected of her but her grades haven’t been as good as she hoped. When she is faced with an open-ended question or a problem that doesn’t have a single right answer she panics and doesn’t know how to proceed. If there are rules to follow she is comfortable in her learning but when faced with complexity and uncertainty she gets confused and feels ‘groundless’.”
In class she nearly always sits with her other native-language friends and feels a strong sense of belonging to her cultural community. She likes learning with her friends and they will test each other in remembering names and formulae. She has a strong drive to please others and do well.
At CIC, we and our partners at Incept Labs are investigating not just learners’ dispositions, but the other half of the coin: teachers’ dispositions — the habits of mind and epistemological worldviews that they bring to teaching, which then shapes their practice.
Deployment in UTS
CLARA is being used at UTS in a number of contexts including the VC’s Learning & Teaching funded projects:
The deliverables from a UTS project to pilot and evaluate CLARA are now being finalised. A briefing workshop reflected on the quantitative and qualitative evidence detailed in an internal report. A summary can be found in:
Barratt-See, G., Cheng, M., Deakin Crick, R. & Buckingham Shum, S. (2017). Assessing Resilient Agency with CLARA: Empirical Findings from Piloting a Visual Analytics Tool at UTS. Proceedings UniSTARS 2017: University Students, Transitions, Achievement, Retention & Success. (Adelaide, 1-4 July, 2017). [PDF PrePrint]
Deakin Crick, R., S. Huang, A. Ahmed-Shafi and C. Goldspink (2015). Developing Resilient Agency in Learning: The Internal Structure of Learning Power. British Journal of Educational Studies 63(2): 121- 160. Open Access Eprint: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00071005.2015.1006574
Deakin Crick, R. & Goldspink, C. (2014): Learner Dispositions, Self-Theories and Student Engagement. British Journal of Educational Studies, pp. 1-17. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00071005.2014.904038. Open Access Eprint: PDF
Buckingham Shum, S. and Deakin Crick, R. (2012). Learning Dispositions and Transferable Competencies: Pedagogy, Modelling and Learning Analytics. Proc. 2nd Int. Conf. Learning Analytics & Knowledge. (29 Apr-2 May, 2012, Vancouver, BC). ACM Press: New York. DOI: 10.1145/2330601.2330629. Open Access Eprint: http://oro.open.ac.uk/32823 (conference replay)