As the profession and practice of Educational Development (ED) continues to evolve and expand, the importance of evidencing the impact of our practices has never been clearer. Educational Development portfolios provide a powerful means by which to communicate the diversity and richness of our ED practices, as well as to provide evidence of our increasing impact within post-secondary education (Wright & Miller, 2000).
At the basis of any great portfolio is a philosophy of practice, which clearly communicates:
- what your fundamental value, beliefs are about educational development;
- why you hold these believes and values (grounded in both experience and scholarship); and,
- how you translated these values and beliefs into your everyday educational development practices and experiences.
Although highly enlightening and rewarding, it should be clearly stated that developing a concise, articulate and meaningful philosophy statement can be a daunting, challenging, and time-consuming experience.
As we begin to embark upon the process of creating Educational Development portfolios within our ED Unit at the University of Guelph, we recently engaged in a reflective process to support the development of our ED Philosophy Statements. The process was based on the increasing popular SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results) framework (Stavros, Cooperrider, & Kelley, 2003; Stavros & Hinrichs, 2011) – an Appreciative Inquiry anecdote to the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis (Mills, Fleck, & Kozikowski, 2013). After reflecting upon the following questions, we found that SOAR provided a great framework upon which to brainstorm, and summarize our key claims to our Educational Development practice. It also resulted in an illuminating, engaging and collaborative discussion related to the beliefs, assumptions and approaches that each of us take to our practice! It became quickly apparent that these questions could also provide an important basis for discussion as part of a well-designed performance management review process (Aguinis, Joo, & Gottfredson, 2011).
The SOAR framework (Stavros and Hinrichs, 2011) adapted within the context of an ED Philosophy of Practice:
Strengths: What are your greatest skills, capabilities, and strengths as an Educational Developer? What do you provide and do in your role as an ED that is of benefit to others? What have been some of your greatest accomplishments over the last year or two as an ED? What are you most proud of in your role as, and approaches to ED? When have you felt most engaged/affirmed in your ED practices and approaches?
Opportunities: What opportunities do you see for yourself as an ED? What are some of your greatest areas of interest in ED? Within the context of higher education, what opportunities currently exist that you can respond to in your role as an ED? What do you see as your greatest opportunities for growth in your ED practice? What new skills and abilities will help you move forward in your ED practice?
Aspirations: What do you care most deeply about in your role as an Educational Developer? What are you deeply passionate about as an ED? What difference do you hope to make as an ED? What does your preferred future ‘look like ‘ in your role as an ED? Where do you hope to go in the future? What projects and initiatives do you hope to engage in as an ED?
Results: How do/will you know you are succeeding in your practice as an Educational Developer? What ‘tangible results’ do you hope to be known for in your role as an ED?
Aguinis, Herman, Joo, Harry, & Gottfredson, Ryan K. (2011). Why we hate performance management—and why we should love it. Business Horizons, 54(6), 503-507.
Mills, M.J., Fleck, C.R., & Kozikowski, A. (2013). Positive Pscyhology at work: a conceptual review, state-of-practice assessment, and a look ahead. The Journal of Postiive Psychology, 8(2), 153-164.
Stavros, Jacqueline, Cooperrider, DL, & Kelley, D Lynn. (2003). Strategic inquiry appreciative intent: inspiration to SOAR, a new framework for strategic planning. AI Practitioner. November, 10-17.
Stavros, Jacqueline M, & Hinrichs, Gina. (2011). The Thin Book Of SOAR: Building Strengths-Based Strategy: Thin Book Publishing.
Wright, W Alan, & E Miller, Judith. (2000). The educational developer’s portfolio. International Journal for Academic Development, 5(1), 20-29.