“Never Give up, Never Surrender!“ – Re-Submitted Application for the Title Excellent Teacher

I finally rewrote my application for the title Excellent Teacher at Uppsala University last week. I wrote one three years ago, but failed completely and was not even asked to do an interview. That felt like such a failure! And I guess it was quite a failure… But one shouldn’t give up: “Never Give up, Never Surrender!”

Now I feel brave enough to submit again. An application to the title excellent teacher is according to Uppsala University’s descriptions:

“The term Excellent Teacher is to be used for teachers who have attained a higher level of teaching expertise. Academic teaching competence, personal engagement, and skills shall have an express meritorious value for teachers at Uppsala University.  ”

Writing this applicaiton has taken quite a lot of time. It ended up being more than 50 pages of text describing all my teaching activites, and development work and also 30 attachments with more than 10 letters of recommendation, course evaluations, development project descriptions etc.

I really hope that I will be called for the interveiw this time. That would mean that I am one step closer at least….

A Framework for Competence Development in Project Courses: A Pedagogic Development Project

Except for cognitive and technical skills, a number of professional competencies are needed to be able who work in a global job market. Some examples of such professional competencies are communication skills, creative thinking, reflection skills and intercultural competence. More work is needed, though, on understanding and spread how such professional competencies can be developed in project courses. The overarching goal of our development project was therefore to develop a framework for scaffolding the development of professional competencies..

The framework is based on working with open problems in project courses where students are given the freedom to define and drive the work themselves, and highlight aspects like progression and measurability, as well as support, including support from other students, in skills development. This by giving examples of different forms of support for students in their learning, but also for teachers to design learning environments suitable for the development of competencies. The idea is that the framework will be able to function in a variety of ways and in different roles and aims at an increased understanding of how active student participation can contribute to better learning environments for students.

The project is based on previous work with a project course, IT in society. In this work, a guiding principle has been that it is essential for the motivation that the development of competencies exists in a context relevant to the students, in this particular case, an international collaboration on IT use in a complex reality-based project in health care. However, the skills as such are often of a general nature and lessons learned from this context are useful for the development of competencies also in other contexts. The focus of this project is the use of learning agreements with reflections and student feedback. In the work we have developed a number of personas for different types of students and a prototype of a Wikipedia-like platform to collect resources intended for student development of professional skills. These resources are developed for the course IT in society, but are useful as inspiration for university teachers and trainers regarding methods of working with skills development through active student participation in project courses.

In addition to inspiring, we also want to consciously raise the resistance we noted to take the development of these skills seriously. The latter is related to the work of Anne Peters as a PhD student in UpCERG (Uppsala Computing Education Research Group). exemplified in her dissertation (Peters, 2017). In this report we first give a brief presentation of the main work carried out in the project, followed by a presentation of the results the work generated. The report ends with an attachment with publications, and a discussion and summary including future work.

Some Reflections on Stress and Work Life Balance

Working with the same thing, being in my comfort zone all the days of the week would really make me bored. I think that the feeling of “empty work” would haunt me after quite a short time. I want the excitement of learning new things, but of course not all days of the week. However, some periods in life really are too full and the calendar gets packed. It feels like I run from one thing to the other all day (but I don’t run – I sit at my computer), and there is no room for reflection or a pause. The picture for this blog post would illustrate those weeks, or months.

This fall I talked to a full professor of work environment who said that there needs to be a balance in life over time. And that this balance might be personal (there is no one-size-fit all), but we need to be aware that variation is key when it comes to stress. I think that this person has a good poting.

Perhaps my ideal life would look like this:varied

There is no point for me to aim for a life where there would be long periods with too little to do, or to think that this would be good for me. I like when life varies, and when there are some days that are really filled with new and exciting, and stressful, things. I am really looking forward to an exciting spring with some new things, and also many things that are completely in my comfort zone.

A 2nd Writing Retreat

The HCI people at the department had a two day writing retreat at my house again. This time it was a real girl-power retreat, and it was only women who came. We spent two full days writing and also doing some social activities.

Writing retreats work very well for me, and I get more things written than a normal day when I am sitting at my desk. The feeling of being focused and only being allowed to write is really great.

During the retreat I wrote on the following texts:

  • A paper on sharing of patient accessible health records with relatives. The work on the paper is lead by Leysan Nurgalieva, and the study is based on interview data as well as a survey that was sent to patients.
  • An application for funding to do research on psychiatry medical records online and how that affects the work environment in health care.
  • An application to the co-funded call Gender-Net Plus

 

Reframing to Equal Opportunities and not only Gender Equality – Do you have any tips?

I have been working with gender equality at the department of Information Technology for a few years, and I have really enjoyed this work. We have a great team at the department, and the support from management has been extremely good. Now it has been decided that the group will refocus and reframe into an equal opportunities group. The coming year we will be working on learning about equal opportunities, and I will spend time studying online courses, and attending seminars on equal opportunities. I am a bit worried about this reframing as we have had a great team working with gender equality with some very competent people. I guess that they are very competent in learning new things too, and we are indeed all very interested in the topic.

I might attend the Frontiers in Education Conference in 2018, as I know that they usually have presentations and workshops on gender equality and equal opportunities. Btw: It is very likely that this conference will be run in Uppsala in a few years 🙂

Do you have any tips on what we should read, or what conferences to visit to learn about the area of equal opportunities?

Attending the Conferment Ceremony for New PhDs Feels Like the Nobel Prize Ceremony

When you have finished your PhD at Uppsala University you are invited to participate in the conferment ceremony in the main university building at Uppsala University. This is a very traditional ceremony, and parts of it is still in Latin. 😳

The link to the film below is taken when the PhD students and the other people in the procession enter the room.

 

Here we go!

 

The feeling during the conferment ceremony is that of the Nobel Prize award. It is indeed very formal, serious and honorable. This year I am attending the ceremony to see when Thomas Lind gets his diploma.

Writing an Application for the South Africa – Sweden University Forum

Last year I had a great visit at the University of Pretoria, where I met Helene Gelderblom and her UX in South Africa team. I was very impressed by their work, and since then we have been looking for opportunities to continue our collaboration. Many of my research projects are in the same area as theirs, and it would be so interesting to do research together on how to improve the quality of IT system.

Now one opportunity for funding has appeared! Uppsala University and 27 other universities in Sweden has a newly started collaboration with South Africa, and they have a call for applications to join a research and innovation week at the University of Pretoria. You find information about their initiative here. Several of the challenges they are addressing in the South-Africa Sweden University forum are related to my research, and it would be great to discuss them with other researchers and look for collaborations. The week will also include some research and innovation activities, and there will be a delegation from Uppsala University going to Unversity of Pretoria.

We’ll see if the application is granted or not. There might be many researchers who are interested in joining this Please hold your thumbs! And please join me and write an application to this call for joining a research and innovation week.

Doing Interviews for Employment and Some Tips on Writing Applications for a Position in Academia

This week I will be visiting Umeå University and do interviews with people who have applied for a position as pedagogic developer. I have read their applications and done an initial ranking of the applicants before the interviews. I have done these kinds of interviews a few times before, and it is really a learning experience to listen to the presentations and to what their plans are for the job. Often it is also interesting to compare the impression you get from the application, and specifically the teaching portfolio to the impression you get from the person. However, often I am really nervous before doing interviews because I know that it is very important to the people that have applied for the job.

When doing my assessment I need to spend quite some time reading the instructions given by the university, and to create a rubrics that I use for the assessment. This rubric is unique for each assessment I make when it is for employments at different universities. The rubrics for titles such as “Excellent teacher” at a specific university are the same, and these assessments are often easier and quicker due to this. When the rubrics is done I start reading the applications to understand the competence and experiences of the applicant.

Here are some short tips for writing an application to a position in academia. Some advice are general and some more specific for the teaching skills assessment

  1. Use headlines that help the examiner find the information quickly and easily.
  2. Please read the job ad very closely, and also the instruktions for the position that you are applying for. See to it that you include the information needed for assessing your competence in the areas mentioned in the ad and in the job description.
  3. Please note that the assessment of the teaching skills requires you to write a text that reflects your experiences from teaching. A list of what courses you have taught is not enough. I cannot assess those who only add a bullet list with courses, independent of how long the list is.
  4. Provide evidence of your work in the form of letters of recommendation, course evaluations, descriptions of development project etc.
  5. If there are specific courses mentioned in the advertisement for the position, please mention why you would be a good teacher of those courses.
  6. Connect the teaching philosophy with your own experiences as a teacher, and reflect on them.
  7. Write something about how you plan to improve as a teacher. What would your future work be?

Applications for Funding from an Equal Opportunites Perspective

Doing evaluations for EU applications has so far been quite a learning experience. I have been asked to do evaluations of very large applications in the ICT area, and I will be doing applications 5-6 time a year for the coming years. The competence that I am especially contributing to for the group of evaluators is the equal opportunities perspective, apart from me being a researcher in ICT.

Many in the ICT business think it is very difficult to think of ICT projects from an equal opportunities perspective. They see ICT as neutral, and hence it is not possible too talk about from a any perspective. ICT is transparent, in their view, and simply a value free tool that people can use. It is as value free as a hammer. Anyone can use a hammer. (Smile). Firsts of all, ICT technology are male coded, and it is a completely male dominated area. A hammer also has all kinds of connotations to male professions, and men who are unable to use a hammer are not seen as real men….. Doing masculinity without being good at hammering is of course possible, but you rarely find men who are proud of not being able to use a hammer. ICT has the same kind of connotations. Also, not everyone can use a hammer due to not having the physical ability, not being able to see or having hands that are unable to hold a hammer.

ICT is not neutral, and there are a few large areas to look at when thinking about it in relation to ICT projects


1) The development work. Who are on the team? What are the roles of women and men on the team? What are their salaries in the project? Who will be talking to customers? Will all men be back-end programmers? What management principles will be used? How will management make sure that every competence is seen and heard? Is the management style inclusive? Is the manager and the people on the team aware of equal opportunities and have competence in the area?


2) Users Represented in the Project. How are the users present in the development? Do the project test with users? How are users recruited? Are all kinds of users represented? How do you make sure that you listen to all comments from users without being biased?

3) Assumptions about Users. What assumptions are made about the users of the technology? Have you though of people from all discrimination grounds? We have a tendency to design technology for men, and forget about diversity in all its forms. We need to do something about that.

4) Knowledge about inclusive design, design for all etc. I think that many software developers etc need better knowledge about design for all and inclusive design. What are the recommendations for inclusive design of web applications, of user interfaces etc? How do you make sure that your system is usable for everyone? My colleague Lars Oestreicher is an expert in this area and one of our best teachers at the department. If you want to learn more read his upcoming book or take his courses.
 The above are just some of the things that are relevant when writing an application and adding the equal opportunities perspective. I really hope to see fewer of the applications saying that ICT is neutral, and that there is nothing to say about the project application from an equal opportunities perspective.

Using Themes from Qualitative Interviews as Lens to Analyse Survey Data – Workshop paper

Methods are truly important when you do research, and depending on your research tradition there are indeed many strong opinions about what is a good and bad method. Generalizability, validity and reliability are for some the only quality criteria possible. And if you do an interview study you need an enormous number of interviews according to some people.

Some would argue that human-computer interaction is indeed a melting pot of different opinions and perspectives on methods. Indeed, I have seen some very harsh comments on some of the methods that I have used from people with a completely other world-view. The problem when I get these comments is that I don’t really know what to write as an answer. Please take a course in qualitative research and relevant quality criteria for that kind of research is perhaps not the most politically correct rebuttal text to write.

One of my favorite stories related to methods is from my supervisor, Jan Gulliksen who was a part of a long review process where one other researcher claimed that the method was un-important:

I don’t care that the method is flawed. I like the results!

 

Before the Christmas holiday Christiane Grünloh presented a workshop paper that we wrote together that presents a mixed methods approach to analyzing interviews.

“Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is a melting pot of different theories and methods. The combination of qualitative and quantitative methods in studies is still quite rare, but has become more and more common. In this paper, we present our experiences from doing a combination of quantitative and qualitative analysis to shed some light on patient accessible electronic health records. We conducted a national survey to patients to learn about their experiences of accessing their electronic health records. The questionnaire was informed by previous interviews with physicians related to effects on their work environment, and we made use of identified themes from that study as a lens to analyse survey data.”

 

You find the paper free for download here.