Sue Ward-Booth

  • How effective are we as teachers?

    Sue Ward-Booth and Deirdre Haslam

    Full Title of Research: How effective are we as teachers in developing a model of mind in our students that understands the complex needs of clients who are different as a result of ethnicity, sexual diversity, disability, religion, class, etc.? Do we facilitate the student's understanding of the innate fear and defensiveness aroused by facing acknowledging and working with difference?

    Students of the BSc. (Hons) counselling degree have already achieved a professional qualification and are practising counsellors in supervision. The focus of our research is on the effectiveness of inquiry-based learning in developing student's levels of consciousness (Kegan, 1993) about issues of difference and diversity.

    This is a qualitative study, using a heuristic approach, which emphasises an openness to generating new insights ( McLeod, 1991; Reason and Rowan, 1991)

    This short presentation and paper is an introduction to some of the ideas and concepts, which have challenged the authors during the initial stages of research. The presentation will attempt to identify the main focus of the work done so far and the lessons learned from the first teaching and learning programme with the first intake of students.

    The two researchers have used qualitative research methods, which include a Q-sort and analysis of themes (via NVivo), from both researchers diaries and questionnaire material from students. The questions asked include:

    Do we as the researchers/tutors take a heuristic approach, which emphasises our openness to new learning and generation of new insights? The essential dilemma involved in this aspect of qualitative research relates to the qualitative researchers' ability to 'capture the lived experience' (Denzin and Lincoln, 1998) and use the created texts of both the written material from questionnaires and diaries to move beyond the framework defined by the text and experience of the write/researcher. The focus on the narrative and 'tales of the field' (Van Maanem, 1988) can allow for the generation of small-scale theory linked to specific situations as this might relate to the work done with this specific student group. The use of NVivo as an analysis tool relates to the anonymous responses given by students to a questionnaire administered at the end of the taught course to help us to ascertain how effective students believe we have been as teachers. These results are in the process of being analysed and some initial findings are available in the pack provided.. Thematic analysis of the researchers own learning journal using NVivo are in the process of being analysed.

    The questions also include the use of Inquiry Based Learning a model of teaching and learning and the insights gained from the initial pilot group. The changes and adaptations are noted in the pack provided. The Q-Sort method (Stephenson, 1953) is an attempt to explore the stories told by the individuals and the group. The Q-Sort was administered to both students and tutors at the start of the course and 18 months later at the end of the taught input. The initial analysis of both Q-Sorts suggested a wider variation in the stories told about difference and diversity following completion of the course. In other words, the student group was able to move from one perspective or position to a number of stories varying within the group.

    The likely outcomes for this current research includes:

    1. To enhance our reflective practice and to model this process for all the students undertaking their own research
    2. To examine the effectiveness of our teaching within the learning community (Vigotsky, 1978; Wells, 1975) as this relates to the development of a fourth order of consciousness (Kegan, 1993)
    3. To evaluate the students' ability to relate at a deep empathic level with those who can offer the counsellor a wider and more complex perspective on the world (Wilber, 2000)


    Denzin, K and Lincoln, Y., (1998) Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials, Sage 
    Kegan, R.,(1994) In Over our Heads: The Mental Demands of Modern Life, Harvard University Press
    McLeod, J, (1994) Doing Counselling Research, Sage 
    Reason, P and Rowan, J, (1981) Human Inquiry: A Sourcebook of New Paradigm Research, Wiley 
    Stephenson, R, (1953) The Study of Behaviour: Q-technique and its Methodology, Chicago: University of Chicago Press 
    Van Maanem, J, (1988) Tales of the Field: On Writing Ethnography, Chicago: University of Chicago Press
    Vigotsky, L.S. (1978) Mind In Society: The Development of Higher psychological Processes, Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press
    Well, G. ( in press) Thinking With Vigotsky, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
    Wilber, K (2000) Integral Psychology, Shambhala