Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate; that’ is the order of the day. I’ve talked relatively exclusively of late about how we need to evaluate our own practice; how we should be reflective, objective, and critical in order to become better with each and every class. Times change, learners change, techniques and strategies change, we change and therefore we must be accepting of such. A classmate of mine recently created this aesthetically pleasing infographic to describe ratemyprofessors.com. As a new feedback method to me, I initially found the chili pepper feature for the student to rate a professors ‘hotness’ amusing but on a less superficial note, the author makes a great point about student bias that I found interesting, and I believe stands true for any autonomous feedback method. We should “recognize that students who comment may have had extreme experiences (either very good or very bad)” (Deol, 2016). This means we need to be selective and critical of the information we extract from such feedback methods. At grass roots it stands to reason that we as the educators use such feedback to responsibly develop our practice, our classrooms, our material, our student evaluation methods, but what about the bigger picture? What about the institution that we teach within, or the program itself, the Fraser Health Authority says
In this complex, quickly changing environment, decision-makers need to understand why observed results occur. An evaluation process can seek to understand the attribution or contribution of observed results to a program. Evaluation can also inform new policies and programs that respond to these challenges”.
Now, I’m not about to break down the process of how a program evaluation should be conducted, but I think its important to understand that we are merely pieces of the educational jigsaw which as a collective, has been designed to achieve results or uphold a standard. A requirement of an assignment I had for 3260 was to write a piece on accreditation; the ‘whys’ or ‘what ifs’ involved. I left the post until recently because I couldn’t find anything during my research that I could really relate to…then I realized…John, you come from arguably one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world beside medicine; Aviation. Also, not three weeks ago discussed how in my five year plan I aspire to have ‘qualified teacher’ status. I suppose sometimes you just can’t see the forest for the trees.
Canada has the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace (CCAA), the UK the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), both are similar entities which regulate aviation; its processes, training, qualifications, licenses etc. The Royal Air Force, is renowned for having the most ‘over maintained’ (as in every aircraft is fully maintained before and after every flight, no matter how long the sortie) aircraft and best qualified workforce in the world. However, the training and qualifications received by its Airman and woman are largely non transferrable to either organization. I don’t believe this is a reflection of civilian views on the training, it is more that there is an agreed standard, a specific set of objectives, training paths and professional monitoring which have been deemed the necessary for the industry. CCA says “Most aviation regulation and policy is harmonised across the world to ensure consistent levels of safety and consumer protection” and that it ensures:
- the aviation industry meets the highest safety standards
- consumers have choice, value for money, are protected and treated fairly when they fly
- we drive improvements in airlines and airports’ environmental performance
- the aviation industry manages security risks effectively.
Consistency, protection, highest standards, manages risks. These are the reasons that aviation is regulated, peoples lives are at risk every day. If its technicians and pilots can’t operate within the realm of such regulation, then they are jeopardizing the safety of everyone who flys, or works on their aircraft. The CCAA says that it “brings together business, labour, educators, industry associations and government in a strategic alliance that is focused on implementing solutions to the specific skills and demographic needs of the industry”
These reasons transpose to many, if not all accredited courses or institutions. Recognition by an authority might say “I have been trained and work to standards A,B &C and my work is checked every X years” the authority is doing their due diligence to ensure the original standards are maintained, along with recognizing that time moves swiftly on, and it can and will implement “solutions to the specific skills and demographic needs of the industry”.
When I moved to Canada from England despite working as an Engineer, I couldn’t legally call myself an ‘engineer’ because I didn’t have a ‘P Eng’, no big deal, but certainly people acted differently to me when they didn’t read those four letters on my business card. Because I was not a member of APEGA and spoke in a funny accent, suddenly they were doubting my capabilities as a professional. As much as a challenge as this could be sometimes, I understand why, its like buying a product. A consumer likes to know what they’re getting, a certified diamond versus a cubic zirconia (I am no diamond though, thats for sure). So why do I want to have qualified teacher status? Mainly because I’m goal driven, I like to run marathons, to compete at triathlon. Of course its great to keep fit but also because I like to have something to aim for. But also, I would like to say that I match up to the governing bodies standard of what a teacher should be.
Just as our goal is to promote learning in the best way that we can, so is it that stakeholders want to know that their program is doing the same. Just as our practice can become stagnant if left stationary, a programs validity will soon fade if it doesn’t move with the times. Just as in aviation, my job as a teacher is to achieve consistency, the highest standards, ‘protect’ my students best interests and drive performance.