Thinking, doing and being in your discipline

  1. Think about the typical ways of thinking, doing and being in your academic discipline. Generate a list of these and write a few sentences to describe them.
  2. For each way of thinking, doing and being, try to articulate what precisely are you ‘doing’ when you do ‘x’ in your discipline? What steps are involved? Why do you do it that way?
  3. From your professional experiences, how do think your students make sense of practices and processes in your discipline?
  4. How might you make explicit, and model, these processes and practices in your discipline for your students to observe?

It may, at first, be somewhat difficult to articulate these processes, partly because they have become so ‘normalized’ to us within our specific disciplines. However, identifying and articulating them is the necessary precursor to modelling them, and making them explicit, to our students. This is not about giving students ‘sample/model answers’, but instead it involves, for example, clearly explaining to our students what is meant by (for example) ‘critically discuss’ and working through an exercise so that they can see our thought processes and the practices in which we engage when working through the exercise. Having modelled the approach and made the process explicit, we try to design learning situations in which students have an opportunity to demonstrate their engagement in an aspect of disciplinary practice, to observe others doing so, and to reflect on same, and for us to provide feedback. In this sort of collective inquiry approach, students still have the responsibility for reading in and thinking about the topic. The teacher, then, has the responsibility to create learning situations in which students have a chance to develop and compare their interpretations of the topic. It is important for us to remember that making process explicit is not about ‘dumbing down’ standards. It is about facilitating access to processes and practices in your discipline, while maintaining the same level of intellectual demand. Rather than depressing standards, clarity and explicitness with respect to disciplinary practices and processes will likely lead to all students achieving more highly. While considering these issues, you may be able to identify specific processes and practices in your discipline which present challenges, as well as opportunities, with respect to inclusion.