Embodiment, knowledge, power and ethics: Casting a feminist gaze over educational development

Year: 2021

Author: Dunham, Nicola

Type of paper: Pre-Recorded Individual Paper

Pre-recorded presentation link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yErJZffEMA0Within Higher Education, Educational Developers traverse a highly complex, diverse and high risk landscape; moving across a range of discipline to ensure the design and development of quality teaching and learning experiences. In their role, Educational Developers act as intermediaries and key players within the creation and implementation of institutional strategic direction. This article reports on research carried out during my time as an Educational Developer leading a project to design and develop a new postgraduate programme in Nursing. The research examines the converging of critical theory with pedagogical practice. As the programme development occurred during 2020-2021 amidst the first wave of Covid-19 in Aotearoa New Zealand, the notion of education in crisis was pertinent. This was evident in the need to respond to rapidly changing conditions, emerging challenges such as lockdown, impacts on nursing placements and timing of course rollout. The critical theory applied is that of feminist pedagogy. Feminist pedagogy emerged through a critique of long standing educational beliefs and practices associated with masculinist societal structures. like feminist theory, feminist pedagogy is multiple in form. Despite this multiplicity, a central focus of feminist pedagogy is transformation facilitating a “language of possibility” (Giroux, 1985, p. 88), in which critique of existing educational and societal structures opens up possibility for an alternative viewpoint. As proposed by the eminent feminist theorist bell Hooks, feminism “is about and for everybody. Everyone benefits from feminist thought and practice, not regardless of their gender, but indeed because it“ (Scarlet, 2019, p. 18). As such, the feminist gaze cast over programme design and development is of value to the design of optimal student learning experiences irrespective of the gender of learners.Four issues prominent in feminist pedagogy (embodiment, knowledge, power and ethics), were mapped across the identified programme relating to learning activity, pedagogical approach, assessment, and online learning design (Kirkup et al., 2010). The mapping identified that the core themes associated with feminist pedagogy were evident across the programme design. This reinforced the synergy between critical pedagogical aspirations and their representation in practice. The mapping acted as a framework to support critical reflection, which is an established means of conducting practitioner-focused research. The next stage of the research is to examine the actual project development process from a feminist perspective.