Tag Archives: teaching

Curriculum Co-Design and Co-Production

In public administration everyone is talking about collaboration, co-production, co-design, co-commissioning. But do public administration academics practice what we preach? In this post I want to briefly discuss some of the key findings from my latest research which is available for free download here: https://doi.org/10.1177/0144739420968862

In the various degree programmes and modules I have designed I have always tried to ensure that students are engaged in the design of the curriculum and that they benefit from a blend of professional experience and academic learning.

Typically this has been achieved through a range of learning activities such as fieldtrips, leadership exchanges, action learning sets, coaching and in-class sessions – many of which I have written about previously. It is important that throughout the learning experience students are engaged and empowered in order to make lasting change to the communities they serve. But it’s not enough to talk or read about this – I believe students need to experience it too. This is particularly important in public administration programmes.

Thus it is important that public administration students have ownership of their degree programme(s) – and have ownership of improvement. Just as the communities they serve should have ownership and power to deliver improvements to their areas. This relates very much to Arnstein’s Ladder of Participation:

Arnsteins Ladder - IElliott2

Students are not simply the passive recipients of knowledge – but they should have significant delegated power and control to make changes to their degree programme(s). There are a number of ways through which this is facilitated including through student-staff consultative meetings.

One exercise I have used for a number of years now is based around the concept of curriculum co-design. This has always generated lots of great ideas and discussion. During one such session a student, who was looking a little perplexed by the process said,

“I’m just trying to take it all in. It’s just so different to anything I’ve done before. All I can think right now is WOW”

Former student

That was a wonderful thing to hear. As academics we want to stretch our students (figuratively of course) and challenge their assumptions. This student was clearly expressing a sense of “liminality” – in between receiving and producing.

The use of curriculum co-design in the classroom is particularly beneficial in public administration programmes as co-production has become an influential practice in public services across the UK. In England this is part of a shift in how public services are designed and delivered through the localism agenda. Examples include the development of combined authorities and elected mayors. In Scotland co-production is one of the key pillars of the Scottish Approach to Public Administration as seen in community empowerment. This is part of a wider trend within public administration which has seen a shift from direct top-down delivery of services through to outsourcing and privatisation and now to increasing collaboration, coproduction and co-design of our public services.

It was my experience of using curriculm co-deshn in the classroom, and finding few examples of it being used elsewhere, that led me to reflect on this practice in this journal article:

Elliott, I. C., Robson, I., & Dudau, A. (2020). Building student engagement through co-production and curriculum co-design in public administration programmes. Teaching Public Administration. https://doi.org/10.1177/0144739420968862

Ian Robson (Northumbria University) and Adina Dudau (University of Glasgow) worked with me on the article, helping with my auto-ethnographic reflections and in writing the final piece. I am delighted to see this now available for free Open Access via Teaching Public Administration and that it will feature as part of a special issue edited by John Connolly (University of West of Scotland) and Alice Moseley (University of Executer) on “Curriculum Design in Public Administration Education: Challenges and Perspectives”.

In our article we conclude:

I must thank all those involved in development of this article including students, reviewers, my co-authors and the special issue editors. Hopefully this represents a good example of collaboration and co-production that will stimulate further debate on public administration pedagogy for years to come.

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Organisational Learning and Change in a Public Sector Context

This is a brief summary of my research on organisational learning and change as published in Teaching Public Administration in February 2020.

In this article I spoke to a wide range of public sector managers about their experiences of being involved in a public leadership degree programme. I was interested to know what they saw as being the benefits of this learning experience and how it had influenced their practice.

In this article I discuss the nature of the budget cuts that took place across public sector organisations and particularly how learning and development budgets were seen to be an easy target. I then discuss how the participants had encountered barriers to change and what they felt needed to happen to enable innovation and change.

One aspect highlighted was the extent to which it was seen as important that any learning and development was sector specific as the following extract highlights:

The full Open Access (free) article is available here: https://doi.org/10.1177/0144739420903783

I have provided a 2 minute summary of the research here:

More research related to learning and development in public service organisations can be found here:

Gibb, S., Ishaq, M., Elliott, I.C. & Hussain, A.M. (2020) Fair and decent work in Scotland’s local authorities: evidence and challenges, Public Money & Management, DOI: 10.1080/09540962.2020.1723262

Elliott, I.C., Sinclair, C. and Hesselgreaves, H. (2020) “Leadership of Integrated Health and Social Care Services”, Scottish Affairs, 29 (2): 198-222. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3366/scot.2020.0316.

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Some links and research on teaching of public administration

I’ve been really surprised by the response to a recent Tweet of mine about the state of public administration teaching in the UK.

This Tweet was stimulated by a brief conversation I had with an academic at another UK business school. They were raising the fact that public administration was not taught at their institution. This is a very common picture which has been researched widely within the UK public administration community. I’ve also heard anecdotal stories from academics suggesting that there is a hostility towards anything public sector related. One such story was that a senior academic was told not to even mention the words ‘public sector’.

This contrasts with my own experience. I work at Northumbria University where there is a long history of public administration teaching and research. Currently I teach on our MSc Strategic Leadership for Public Services programme and supervise three doctoral students who are all exploring issues related to the public sector. We also have one of the largest cohorts of public administration scholars in the UK. More on how we are leading the public administration revival here.

Debates around the nature of the subject often centre around the nature and legacy of New Public Management (NPM). This was a theoretical approach which suggested that business techniques could (and even should) be applied to the public sector in order to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. Many of the central arguments of NPM have since been debunked.

Yet issues related to the unique public service context are often not fully considered in teaching of business and management. This is despite the public sector making up c.17% of UK employment and c.35% of GDP. It also fails to recognise that the private sector needs an effective public sector to support the infrastructure, culture, society and people needed for business to flourish. At the same time many public services are themselves delivered by the private sector (and increasingly the Third Sector).

This is why the UK Learned Society for public policy and administration – the JUC Public Administration Committee – have called on the public service context to be a more explicit part of undergraduate business and management degree programmes: https://www.juc.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/PAC-Position-Statement-on-QAA-Subject-Benchmarks.pdf

I am continuing to research this issue. However, in the meantime please see the following references which list just some of the research that documents the history of UK public administration.

Some useful references:

Barbaris, P. (2012). Thinking about the state, talking bureaucracy, teaching public administration. Teaching Public Administration, 30 (2): 76-91. DOI: 10.1177/0144739412462232

Boyne, G. (1996). The Intellectual Crisis in in British Public Administration: Is Public Management the Problem or the Solution?, Public Administration, 74, 679-694.

Boyne, G. (2002). Public and Private Management: What’s the Difference? Journal of Management Studies, 39, 97-122. doi: 10.1111/1467-6486.00284

Carmichael, P. (2004). ‘Shackled to a Corpse?’ – A Reply to Howard Elcock. Public Policy and Administration, 19(2), 8–12. https://doi.org/10.1177/095207670401900203

Chandler, J. (1991). Public Administration: a Discipline in Decline, Teaching Public Administration, 11, 39-45.

Chandler, J. (2002). Deregulation and the Decline of Public Administration Teaching in the UK, Public Administration, 80, 375-390.

Chapman, R.A. (1993), THE DEMISE OF THE RIPA — AN IDEA SHATTERED. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 52: 466-474. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8500.1993.tb00302.x

Chapman, R.A.C. (2007), “Joint University Council and the background to public policy and administration?”, Public Policy & Administration, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 7-26.

Davies, M. R., Greenwood, J., & Robins, L. (1995). Public Administration Education and Training: Globalization or Fragmentation? International Review of Administrative Sciences, 61(1), 73–78. https://doi.org/10.1177/002085239506100106

Diamond, J, Liddle, J (2012) Reflections and speculations on teaching and learning in public administration. Public Policy and Administration 27(3): 265–277

Elcock, H. (1991). Change and Decay? Public Administration in the 1990s. London, Longman.

Elcock, H. (2004). Public Administration: Why Are We in the Mess We’re In? Public Policy and Administration, 19(2), 3–7. https://doi.org/10.1177/095207670401900202

Elcock, H. (2013). Local Government: Policy and Management in Local Authorities. London, Routledge.

Elliott, I.C. (2017), Verbal contribution to PSA/JUC Debate on the Future of Public Administration, PSA Annual Conference, University of Strathclyde, April 10.

Elliottt, I.C. (2018). Marking the 100th anniversary of the UK Joint University Council and anticipating the next… Teaching Public Administration, 36(1), 3–5. https://doi.org/10.1177/0144739418763847

Elliott, I.C. (2020). Organisational learning and change in a public sector context. Teaching Public Administration. https://doi.org/10.1177/0144739420903783

Fenwick, J., & McMillan, J. (2014). Public Administration: What is it, why teach it and does it matter? Teaching Public Administration, 32(2), 194–204. https://doi.org/10.1177/0144739414522479

Gray, A, Jenkins, B (1995) From Public Administration to Public Management: Reassessing a Revolution. Public Administration 73(1): 75–99.

Greenwood, J (1999) The Demise of Traditional Teaching: Public Administration in Britain. Teaching Public Administration 19(1): 53–61.

Greenwood, J. and Eggins, H. (1995) Shifting Sands: Teaching Public Administration in a Climate of Change. Public Administration 73(1): 143–63.

Hood, C (2011) It’s public administration, Rod, but maybe not as we know it: British public administration in the 2000s. Public Administration 89(1): 128–139.

Jones, A. (2012). Where Has All the Public Administration Gone? Teaching Public Administration, 30, 124-132.

Liddle, J. (2017), “Is there still a need for teaching and research in public administration and management? A personal view from the UK”, International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 30 No. 6-7, pp. 575-583. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPSM-06-2017-0160

Miller, K. (2012). The Future of the Discipline: Trends in Public Sector Management. In J. Diamond, & J. Liddle. (Eds.) Trends in Public Management: an Age of Austerity. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing.

Raadschelders, J.C.N. (1999) A coherent framework for the study of public administration. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 9(2): 281–303. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.jpart.a024411

Rhodes, R, Dargie, C, Melville, A, Tutt, B (1995) The State of Public Administration: A Professional History, 1970–1995. Public Administration 73(1): 1–15.

Rhodes, R. A. W. 1996. ‘From institutions to dogma: tradition, eclecticism and ideology in the study of British public administration’ Public Administration Review, 56 (6): 507–16.

SHELLEY, I. (1993), WHAT HAPPENED TO THE RIPA?. Public Administration, 71: 471-490. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9299.1993.tb00987.x

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Using Social Media in Learning and Teaching

I was invited to give a presentation at University of the West of Scotland at their Student Experience Learning and Teaching (SELT) event on 2 April 2014. You can see all presentations via the Storify which is linked below.

 

The topic I was given to present on was ‘Use of Social Media in Learning and Teaching at Queen Margaret University’. In this I drew on my own experiences of using social media within my learning and teaching practice. You can view a video of my presentation here:

 

I was delighted, on the very next day, to receive an ‘Innovative Teaching’ award at the QMU Student, Teaching and Representation (STaR) awards. This award was, in part, in recognition of my use of social media. More information on this is available here: STaR Awards.

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What is Blended Learning?

This vlog post is all about how I use blended learning in the delivery of my postgraduate teaching. I had intended the video to last 5 minutes but turns out to be closer to 10 minutes. Anyway, here it is…

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