Category Archives: Complex systems

Festival of Postgraduate Research 21/02/2014

Last Friday (21/02/2014)  we attended the Festival of Graduate Research in the Wills Memorial Building.  Several of us presented a series of posters outlining where we are with our research.

What seemed to be of particular interest was a research metro map.  It provided visitors, and ourselves, not only with an easy way of identifying where we have common areas of interest but as a source of inspiration for further exploration of new topics.

SLL Research Metro Map

We also presented several research posters at different stages of the research journey.

Shaofu Huang being close to submission presented his findings in his poster: ” Imposed or Emergent?”

Imposed or Emergent_SH_2014-02 v1.0 (for web)

Damian Stoupe presented his  poster “An exploration of non-violent aggression in UK workplaces”:

poster febnruary 2014 final

Adeela Shafi presented her pilot study work with young offenders in her poster “Breaking Cycles”  Breaking Cycles Leaflet- Enhancing young offender learning._Page_2

Nigel Newton drew upon his presentation about students course choices for his posters:

Course Choice FPGR 2014

Towards a complex systems approach to educational transformation

A study that has inspired us and laid a foundation on which we hope to build in our research programme is Bryk et al’s  longitudinal study of school reform in Chicago. Check it out here…well worth a read.

In 1988, the Chicago public school system decentralized, granting parents and communities significant resources and authority to reform their schools in dramatic ways. To track the effects of this bold experiment, the authors of Organizing Schools for Improvement collected a wealth of data on elementary schools in Chicago. Over a seven-year period they identified one hundred elementary schools that had substantially improved—and one hundred that had not. What did the successful schools do to accelerate student learning?

The authors of this illuminating book identify a comprehensive set of practices and conditions that were key factors for improvement, including school leadership, the professional capacity of the faculty and staff, and a student-centered learning climate. In addition, they analyze the impact of social dynamics, including crime, critically examining the inextricable link between schools and their communities. Putting their data onto a more human scale, they also chronicle the stories of two neighboring schools with very different trajectories. The lessons gleaned from this groundbreaking study will be invaluable for anyone involved with urban education.

Centre for Systems Learning and Leadership is launched

The Centre for Systems Learning and Leadership has emerged from several strands of research, development and social enterprise based in and around the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol.   It goes back to 2003 when our research into learning power demonstrated that an individual’s learning power is powerfully influenced by factors internal to the learner and external – in the culture and community of which they are a part.  For example, we discovered that teachers who were most highly controlling tended to have classes with the lowest levels of learning power, and factors like ‘trust’  ‘affirmation’ and ‘challenge’ made a real difference to how a person engaged with their learning.

We explored teachers learner centred practices, leadership,  the sequencing of students encounters with knowledge in the curriculum and a school’s emotional climate.  From there we began to explore beyond schools – prisons, communities, higher education and most recently, the corporate world.  Our ideas were put to the test in an Institute for Advances Studies seminar series in 2008, resulting in a special issue of the Cuirriculum Journal – themed as ‘integrating the personal with the public’.

Our relationship with the Engineers in the Systems Centre began to provide us with tools and ideas with which to explain and develop our core understanding that ‘everything is related’  and technical systems  are always integrat to soft systems. We’ve developed an MSc in Systems Learnign and Leadership and our work with Learning Futures has focused our attention on ‘learner engagement’ or ‘deep learning’ as a key theme.  Our connections with the Knowledge Media Institute at the Open University have deepened our understanding of the application of new technologies to enhance sensemaking – we have developed two learning ‘apps’ which support deep learning and enable culture change through the way they scaffold sense making.  Watcht this site for details of projects and forthcoming events. Our learning conversations take place with colleagues from around the world on http://www.learningemergence.net (see link on the right) and if you want to join in, check us out there.