Category: social media

Searching for a job in #HigherEd

In February, 2022, I started a new job as an Educational Developer in the Centre for Learning and Program Excellence at Red River College Polytechnical. This came after 18 often tortuous months of searching for a job. That’s an unfamiliar experience for many of my colleagues so I tweeted this ? to share what it was like and what they could do to help their friends and colleagues with precarious employment.

I’m so grateful for the RTs, like, and especially the replies. Despite what you often hear about Twitter, my community there has always been a source of warmth and reassurance.

A peer evaluation scheme using “salaries”

When students work in groups on bigger assessments like projects, papers, posters, and presentations, instructors often include peer evaluation in the assessment of the project. That is, they ask students to assess each other’s contributions to the project, and those assessments are part of the final grade the students receive.

I learned about a peer assessment scheme from my friend Rique Campa at Michigan State University where students pay each other “salaries” for their work, and their grade for the project depends on the total salary they “earn”.

Here’s a graphic I made to explain how it works:

After I posted a draft version on Twitter, I had some great conversations with @ProfTucker @JeanMaines @drlestj @chemnet_au @jgustar @charlesmenzies @sgraingerPhD @mspencer09 @TeachingBehind1 @usankar2 @epm_morris @DrPatMaher @meganbarkerase @EWhitteck @bhundey @DocRobinYoung Thank-you, all, for the conversations, feedback, and ideas. It led to some revisions:

    • Do students include themselves in the assessment? That is, do they pay themself any of the $100? I think it’s a good idea since it prompts them to reflect on their own contributions and metacognition is always a win. Plus, it gives the course instructor another way to check for suspicious evaluations, like if Jamal, Jennifer, and Jing all pay only $10 to Juan but Juan pays himself $90. Something doesn’t sync there.
    • Instructors (and students) may be nervous about letting students determine the grades on a big project that could determine the success of the students in the course. That’s why I recommend the peer evaluation scheme should be just one component of the project grade. As suggested in the footnote in the graphic, the course instructor could assess the group’s
      • draft (20%)
      • group presentation or poster (20%)
      • over all assessment (50%)

      Each member of the group would receive the same mark on this first 90%. The peer assessment scheme could be used to determine the last 10% of the final grade.

    • A few of the conversations were about the, er, icky feeling of using money to assess each other. I think this salaries scheme needs to fit into the context of the course. In Rique Campa’s courses, the students in Fisheries and Wildlife were looking ahead to careers as consultants in engineering and environment management firms and in the government. They were familiar with projects, bids, budgets, invoices, and so on. For them, salaries were familiar. I’d hesitate to use this scheme in a course that has no connection with money.

By the way, I’m pretty happy with the graphic. It’s a PowerPoint slide with a table surrounded top and bottom by text boxes. I really like the set of free avatars by Hopnguyen Mr on iconfinder (I made a few slight modifications to make them a bit more diverse.)


Silent on Twitter about my job search

I use Twitter. A lot. It’s my daily, hourly,…, continuous source of information, professional development, and support, and a place where I can give back to the communities that support me when I need it.

I advocate

I describe projects I’m working on

I post my itineraries when I travel

I share the everyday things that interest me

Each of these is also an invitation for people to reply and share their recommendations, ideas, positions,…

Twitter silenced
(Illustration by Peter Newbury. Duct tape via pixabay public domain)

My latest big adventure — starting in July, I’ll be the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at UBC Okanagan — was more challenging because I chose to suspend this “networked practice,” as Bonnie Stewart @bonstewart calls it. I didn’t share my job search with my Twitter community.

I didn’t describe how I integrated my teaching statement (which they didn’t ask for) into my CV (which they did).

I didn’t post my interview itinerary.

I didn’t share the interesting things I saw and learned along the way.

Not being able to ask for help and getting feedback was difficult. But what hurt the most was I felt I’d betrayed my community: I was having an amazing adventure, one I wanted to share and believed others could learn from, and I had to keep it a secret.

Why all the secrecy, anyway?

I didn’t share my job search with my community for personal reasons. I didn’t want to tell anyone in case I didn’t get it. Now that I have a fantastic position to go to, I’ll admit it’s not the first job I’ve pursued since joining UC San Diego 4 years ago. Those failed job applications are now water under the bridge (and I’m very grateful to my current Director who encouraged me to apply and learn from the experiences, regardless of the outcome.)

I didn’t share my searches with my community for professional reasons, too. “Why is he leaving? What’s wrong with his current job? Is it him or the people there? If he’s unhappy, can he still do his job?” I don’t need people asking those questions.

The moment of relief

After months of secrecy, there was an unforgettable moment of relief when I could finally reveal my news to my community:

The anxiety was washed away by the flood of replies – I’m so grateful to my communities.

Why now?

It turns out, some colleagues have gone through the same thing recently.

[I’ll add some examples here when I get their permission]

Perhaps this “suspending your networked practice” is a thing, a new thing we wouldn’t have imagined 10 years ago. It’s uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing. Just like every other part of the job search! That feeling that you’re betraying your community? It’s silly. Ignore it. You have enough on your mind already. And no one that matters to you in your community would want you to waste any energy on it. We’ll be there when you have news to share. And we’ll be there if you don’t have news to share.

What about you? Did you share your job search process or wait until you had news? How did you feel when you finally let your community know?