Category Archives: Professional Competencies

On Learning of Supervision Skills

I constantly improve my supervisions skills through experience and reflection, and this blog post will be about how I work with improving in this area. Being a good supervisor is not easy, but I do try to be a supportive and coaching supervisor helping students. In a way it is like playing chess to be a supervisor. You always need to think and learn from the new situations that occur.

Participating in Leadership Courses. One way of improving is also through participating in different leadership courses, as supervision and leadership are closely connected.

Discuss Supervision with a Coach. At Uppsala University, you also have the possibility to meet and discuss with a coach, Rabbe Hedengren, which is such a nice learning opportunity.

Book Circle on Leadership. I also very much enjoy reading about leadership, and I meet and discuss leadership books with a group of leaders around once a year. Recently I read: ”Innan floden tar oss” by Helena Thorfinn and we are going to discuss it in relation to leadership and our view of being leaders.

Listen to Pod Casts. I also listen to pod casts on leadership, academia and positive psychology that motivate me to reflect and improve. Some of the pod casts I really like are:

Mentoring other Other Supervisors. One way of learning and improving supervision skills is to talk to other supervisors about it. Since 2011 I am a member of the network of experienced PhD supervisors at Uppsala University. This means that I have the opportunity to discuss supervision of PhD students with colleagues taking the “supervision of PhD students course” two or three times every semester. The visits have three steps:

1) We meet and discuss the supervision situation before a supervision meeting during approximatively one hour.

2) They auscultate a supervision meeting during 1-2 hours.

3) We discuss what happened during the meeting. Often these visits result in new ideas and reflections on improvements of my supervision skills, and they are as much a learning opportunity for me as for the person visiting me.

Writing about Learning of Supervision Skills. Other ways of learning is of course writing! In 2016, I wrote a journal paper on inclusive supervision skills together with Ulrike Schnaas where we elaborate on collegial learning.

Organizing Workshops on Supervision. We also organized a workshop on inclusive supervision skills at the Network and Development Educational Conference (NU in Swedish) conference. The workshop was a success and included a role play and many good discussions on supervision. Such an interesting learning experience!!

Participating in Conferences on Supervision. I also participated in the conference European University Association (EUA-CDE) on the theme “The Future of Doctoral Education” in Delft, 2015 where I presented work on supervision and discussed it with experienced supervisors from around the globe.

Reflection. Most of all I try to give myself time to reflect on what I am doing at work. I am a dedicated believer in Shöön’s The reflective practitioner, and that reflection is key to learning.

My View of Supervision

My philosophy regarding supervision is to coach depending on background, motivation, and current situation of the person, and to come up with a joint model about how to go forward. This way of thinking is inspired by Vygotsky´s zone of proximal development. I also actively seek to use a situated view of leadership and try to see my students as individuals, and adapt my leadership based on the personal characteristics of the student, knowledge, situation and context. When problems occur, I try to discuss them with the student as soon as possible to collaborately find a good solution.

I often use strategies borrowed from the area of coaching in my supervision (I have been a coach as a part of my research projects, see Cajander et al 2010). As a part of this I avoid coming up with advice such as “you should now do XY & Z”, but rather try to coach the student to come up with their own solutions. I am completely convinced that I cannot know what would be the best solution or approach for them since research is complex, and I never have the full picture like they do. However, there are situations related to the research quality, for example, where the supervisors might indeed know possible ways forward that are unknown to the PhD or master student. Such areas might for example include where to find relevant literature or where to publish. Finally, my supervision is based on the growth mindset which is shortly described as “I/you don’t know this YET”, and I often talk about this mindset in relation to grit with my PhD students.

Master and bachelor students doing their thesis work in connection to my research are invited to participate in research projects, and are included in the conferences arranged etc. if they want to. I think that it is an important learning experience to be a part of the team in the project. Some of the students have indeed done wonderful work that has resulted in publications such as for example:

Other students have also won awards for being the best students, such as Viktor Kjellman and Johan Andersson and their master thesis on “Patient Empowerment and User Experience in eHealth Services: A Design-Oriented Study of eHealth Services in Uppsala” as in the blog post picture!

 

IT in Society Students Presenting Work on Tracking Technologies at the Largest eHealth Meeting in the Nordic Countries?

Vitalis is an important venue for innovators, business and reseracher in eHealth, and brings together 4,500 participants. Next Vitalis takes place 24-26 April 2018 in Gothenburg, and last week the students from the IT in Society class submitted a proposal for a presentation at the conference.

The students will present their research on how health care can improve and become more efficient using tracking technology. I would suspect that it is not as easy as tracking in the snow, as in this blog post’s photo, however.

The students are doing extensive research on the topic this semester, with interviews field studies and literature reviews and studies to industries who have used tracking systems in their organizations to become more efficient.

The students will present their work around Christmas for Region Uppsala, and let’s hope that they are accepted to the conference so that knowledge and insights from their great work has a chance to spread!

 

 

 

 

Including Communication and PR in the IT in Society Class

Communication and PR are an important part of innovation and change. People use social media and Wikipedia to understand reality to a large extent. Through these channels we create the truths.  (Or alternative truths :-o). Hopefully in parallel with other more traditional media channels. Even though communication and PR are very important for success, there are very few courses in the IT related programs at the university level that deal with this.

The students in the IT in society class has always marketed their work with an invitation to their presentation the final week, but this year we have put a more explicit focus on communication and marketing of their work.

They have one group of students who will work with communication and PR. It will be interesting to see what they choose to do! It will also be interesting to see what effects this will have on how known the course is, and how well they manage to communicate the results to media, other students, county councils etc.

We know that the students will submit an abstract to Vitalis and if they are accepted a few of them will go there and present in April. Last year the students did a fabulous job presenting at Vitalis 🙂

The Background to the IT in Society Class

Now we have kicked off this year’s IT in Society Class. There will be a series of blog post about this course this fall.

Some of the things that make this course very special are:

  • Region Uppsala act as a real client to the student project
  • We get a topic for the course from the client very year
  • It is a global distributed project.
  • The students come from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and from Uppsala University.
  • It is based on a pedagigical concept called Open Ended Group Projects

The IT in Society unit was introduced into the IT engineering degree program as a response to industry feedback collected using questionnaires and meetings prior to commencement of the degree program in 1995.  This input emphasized that scaffolding the development of teamwork and communication skills were high priority areas for our industry stakeholders.

Running this course unit has been a challenge every year since 1998, and it has been a quite inspiring challenge.   The open-ended group project idea suited this course unit well. But the (for the students, who had experienced a highly technical preparation in most of their other degree course units) unusual content (e.g. societal aspects) added complexity to setting up a productive learning environment.  Much effort over the years has been put into devising appropriate scaffolding to support the students, without compromising the underlying ideas behind the open-ended group project concept. There will be more info about this concept later on. 

There is a whole series of research publications based on this course. The most prominent one is Mats Daniel’s PhD thesis found here 

Visiting Robert Gordon University and Roger McDermott

Roger McDermott is really an excellent and inspirint researcher. We have done some very interesting papers together, and this week I am visiting Robert Gordon together with Mats Daniels for writing papers in the area of comptuer science education.

A recent paper of ours explores a framework for writing learning agreements. This paper is a recommended read for those who are interested in the development of interdisciplinary teamwork skills. The paper is found here.

We have also written papers about students and how they envision the future of student adminstration, found in this blog post 

Other papers we have written are related to grit and personality, see this  blog post exploring the mind set of yet.

I am very much looking forward to some very productive days in Aberdeen. 🙂

 

Different Roles in Academia

Sometimes I wonder how I should know where I am heading, and what I want to do when I grow up?? And I know that I am a grown up who should know by now…  But too many things seem to be interesting! Do you have the same feeling?

It’s soon been seven years since i defended my PhD. And now I have feeling like there are many different possible futures, much depending on what possibilities that show up but of course also depending on me. I have recently said no to several possible future avenues, and I have understood that this is necessary in Academia from listening to all the pods of this pod cast that I strongly  recommend:  Changing Academic Life.

Some of the things they say in the Changing Academic Life pod are:

  • “There is always another possibility coming up”,
  • “I celebrate saying no to things with champagne” and
  • “You cannot be on every committe that wants you”.

When I was a Phd student I did’t really understand what different possibilities were ahead of me as a reseracher. Instead I was very happy about the current situation and wrote papers in different areas with different people. I think I thought that things would be the same when I had my PhD. I sat in my chair as a Phd student and enjoyed the show in academia, just like the picture in this blog. I was a good co-worker always delivering on time, and with OK quality, but not the one in charge and in some way not a part of the chaos loop at work. Of course it was stressful at times, and problems occured, but mostly I rememer it as a good learning experience and that someone else took care of me.

It turns out I was wrong about the future being the same as the past, and there are indeed many different areas to explore as different kinds of reserachers. Being a reseracher really includes so many different jobs! I have a permanent ten-year-track position at the university, so I am not talking about changing employment, but about the possible things I could do as a part of this permanent position.

Where are you heading in your work life? Do you have a plan? Where do you want to in your carreer in five years, or in ten years? Please let me know!

Success, Having a Fighting Spirit and the Mindset of YET – and one of our research studies

There are researchers such as Angela Duckworth who argue that success is more about effort and a fighting spirit than it is about talent, genius or any other predictor such as health or looks. Her research shows that this particular fighting spirit called “grit” is more important to success than talent. She has done a very interesting Ted talk on the topic that can be found on her home page, here. Recommended! There was also a recent radio program in Swedish on the topic, and Angela Duckworth is interviewed on the show. You find the Swedish show here

One way of helping students, or yourself, attain more grit is to aim for the “Growth mindset” developed by Carol Dweck and others. A key word in this way of thinking is the word YET, and that even though you don’t know everything you have the possibility to learn. Carol Dweck has also done a very insipiring Ted Talk about this found here.

In short the Growth Mindset as presented by Carol Dweck includes the following key elements or ways of thinking:

  • We can all get smarter. Abilities can develop.
  • We know what efforts make us better, and we are aware of what we can do to practice.
  • We put in extra time and effort when we want to achieve things since we know this will pay off.
  • We focus on the learning process, and not the end results. Focus on the “I’m not there YET, but I will reach there”.

The opposite of having the growth mindset is a fixed mindset where you believe that basic qualities or skills such as intelligence or talent, are fixed traits. With this mindset you also believe that talend alone will create success and for those who are gifted success comes without any effort at all.  They’re wrong, and this mind set does not help you much. 

Note! In the context of the fixed mindset it should be noted that there is a gender issue with the fixed mind set. Studies by Ann-Sofie Nyström have investigated why boys have a tendency to believe that “Smart students get perfect scores without studying much” and there is a norm that the best boy should be an effortless achiever.

Our Study on Conscientiousness, Grit and Programming Achievement

In a study that was published at the 2015 ITiCSE conference we tried to find correlations between conscientiousness, grit and programming achievement. The study was driven by Roger McDermott, and Mats Daniels and I collaborted with Roger McDermott on  writing it up.  Our study did find weak but significant correlations between conscientiousness, grit and programming achievement and from the study one can draw the tentative conclusion that having a fighting spirit and not give up is a key success factor in computer science and that we need to provide learning opportunities for our students to practice.

Abstract: 

We investigate the link between concepts of perseverance such as conscientiousness, tenacity, and grit, and the academic attainment of first year computing students. We give a review of the role that perseverance plays in learning models as well as describing the role of conscientiousness in the Five Factor Model of personality. We outline research that links this trait with academic success before focussing on recent, narrower conceptualisations of perseverance such as academic tenacity and grit. We describe one of the questionnaire tools that have been used to assess one such aspect of perseverance. We give details of an investigation that looked for correlations between student responses to Duckworth’s Grit Survey, the Big Five Inventory (BFI) Personality Survey and summative attainment scores in a first year programming course. The results suggest a weak but significant correlation between conscientiousness, grit and programming achievement. We discuss these results as well as the limitations of the method used. Finally, we make some observations about the importance of these concepts in Computer Science education and outline further work in this area.

 

PhD on Physician’s Development of Competence in Antibiotics Prescription

Lats week I was on the examination committee of a PhD defence at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm. It was Arash Hadadgar who defended his PhD called “Electronic Continuing Medical Education, approaches to better understand the general practitioners’ intention to use eCME and assess their competence

This time the PhD was in the area of physician’s development of professional competence in prescribing antibiotics. The topic is of urgent interest for society, as antibiotics prescription will result in bacteria that are resistant to treatment with antibiotics. This area was the topic for Uppsala Health Summit in 2015.

Professor David Topps was the opponent at the dissertation, and he first did a presentation of the background to the PhD, and also discussed very thoroughly with Arash Hadadgar.

In the introductory presentation David Topps mentioned some very interesting things from the background to the PhD thesis that I want to share with you:

  • We all have a tendency to learn more in areas that we are already interested in, and when choosing freely we often do not choose to learn more about things we know very little about.
  • We are generally not very good at self assessment. Experts underestimate their own knowledge, and the novices overestimate their skills.
  • In some areas we are really not very good at all at self assessment. For example: We all think that we are better than the average driver 😛
  •  There is very little research that tries to connect the real behavioural changes that are a result from educational activities. (Arash Hadadgar does this, however)
  • There are more cheaters in any kind of education than what we might think.

The discussion was very thorough, and also extremely interesting from a scientific point of view. As always it was a great learning experience for me 🙂

Students Envisioning the Future of University Studies – Paper presented at the Frontiers in Education Conference 2016

This paper that was presented last week at Frontiers in Education reports on a study addressing how students can be included as critical stakeholders in the systems and services provided by a university. We view this as an element of institutional democracy, and investigate how insights from the computing disciplines can inform this discussion.

The paper can be found here. 

I still remember how I had planned quite a wild didactic  idea about making the students act their future scenarios in a role play for each other. I was in charge of the student group, and worked together with my PhD student Thomas Lind on this. I was not sure about how the students would like this approach to presenting their visions, and I had had little time to prepare it. On my way to the vision seminar sessions the very morning of the role play my car broke down completely. I needed to call Thomas Lind,t  and say that unfortunately I would not show up. So I left him with the quite role play idea , and he was completely unprepared. Good thing he is excellent at improvising, and he made the best out of the situation. 🙂

When the paper was presented by Thomas Lind it was especially appreciated that the students were involved in the work, and that they were collaborative partners when the visions of the future were developed. There were other groups of users too, such as study administrators and study administrators.

The paper is written collaboratively by a whole group of people:

  • Thomas Lind, Åsa Cajander, Bengt Sandblad & Mats Daniels from Uppsala University
  • Marta Lárusdóttir from Reykjavik University
  • Roger McDermott from The Robert Gordon University
  • Tony Clear from Auckland University of Technology

In order to address the whole student experience we engaged students and employees at a large Swedish university in a vision seminar process to elicit how these groups envisioned an ideal future version of the university, and the necessary changes to technology and organisational structures required to achieve this ideal version.

The vision seminar process entailed six four-hour workshops with four groups consisting of six participants each. A survey instrument was used to follow up on the participants’ experiences of participating in the vision seminar process and their thoughts on the future of the university.

The results from the survey show that the participating students had a more positive view of the future in comparison to the university employees. The students envisioned systems to be harmonized at an interdepartmental level, as well as a seamless integration of a variety of services into one technical solution provided by the university.

For university employees the future work was viewed as being very flexible, made possible by information systems capable of providing excellent support whilst not hindering pedagogical and organisational development.

Finally we discuss the broader implications of these differing visions on the future of university education, and how such a visioning process may be successfully adopted in other institutions.