All posts by Karenmca

I'm a librarian and musicologist, currently seconded part-time as postdoctoral researcher at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. I'm also a church organist and choir-trainer. Last year, I completed a PG Cert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Arts Education. Addicted to music and fabric. You can find me on Twitter @karenmca

CV – evidence of a research life

Someone close to me suggested that Issuu would be a good platform on which to host a CV, so I tidied mine up and did as suggested!  I think it does show that I’ve been quite research-active, given that I’m only a researcher 1.5 days a week.  Sometimes I look at other people’s profiles and feel that I really haven’t done very much – but I’m NOT full-time faculty, or a tenured academic, and I have to remind myself that most of what I’ve done has been fitted in around a different career-path, mainly during the decade since I graduated with my mid-career PhD.

I suppose that makes me “alt-ac”, though I’ve never really embraced that concept.  I’m as “ac” as my limited research time allows me to be!

Dr Karen E McAulay CV 2019

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Professional Reading: Scaffolded Learning (in the Australian TeacherMagazine.com)

I get regular emails from this online magazine – it has some very useful articles.  Try this one:-

Dawn Castagno-Dysart, Bryan Matera, and Joel Traver, ‘The importance of instructional scaffolding‘ (TeacherMagazine.com – 30 April 2019)

Slow Teaching: Jamie Thom’s Philosophy

Slow TeachingI found educationalist Jamie Thom on Twitter a few weeks ago.  I was actually searching for helpful hints about how to revise for exams – I can’t remember the exact route by which I found Jamie, but I immediately recognised this as a book I had to read:-

Thom, Jamie, Slow Teaching: on Finding Calm, Clarity and Impact in the Classroom (2018)

It’s £15 on Amazon, where you can “look inside” the book, and sure enough, there’s a chapter on revision. But the whole book is worth a look.  It’s written from the stance of secondary education, whereas I’m working in higher education, but good pedagogy is good pedagogy, and there is much to benefit from for anyone involved in teaching.  The author had a fairly rapid rise into school management, experienced burnout, and is now a classroom teacher in the North of England.  Novice teachers will find plenty of advice about how to avoid overdoing things and setting impossible targets for oneself!

Website: Slow Teaching

Twitter: @TeachGratitude1

UPDATE: I wrote a mini-review for Times Higher Education, and it appeared in the issue for 16 May 2019.  You can read it here:  you don’t have to be a subscriber to access this link, but you may need to register for your three free articles a week.

Student Reactions to Assessments – and how to Respond

40 percent

Here’s a blogpost I spotted on Twitter, shared by educationalist Phil Race.  It’s by Suzanne Fergus, who is Associate Professor of Learning and Teaching @UniofHerts. National Teaching Fellow, SFHEA.

It offers many practical suggestions as to how a lecturer might effectively, sympathetically – and constructively – respond to a student’s disappointment about an assessment grade that they feel does not reflect their efforts.  Well-worth reading!

“I am not happy with my mark” – Tough! 

by Suzanne Fergus

Resources and Authority

Biteable BearI rolled out a new user education session last week – yes, you could call it information literacy (though you know I’m a bit conflicted about the expression, because I always fear students will find it patronising!)

A colleague had related anecdotally that students seemed to have picked up the impression that everything on our library discovery-layer was authoritative “because the librarian said so”.  Proud that we had been quoted as such an authority, I was nonetheless a bit alarmed.  EVERYTHING? Had we told them to place blind trust in EVERYTHING there, recordings, digital scores, the lot?

It was time to sort things out.  I offered a seminar about primary and secondary research sources, authoritative and less authoritative ones, what you could trust, and where you needed to tread with caution.  What might be “authoritative” in a sound recording, and why “online” is actually just a format – it’s the content that matters.  It seemed to go down well.

Throwing caution to the wind, I let the students know they were trialling this session, – although I would never usually TELL students they were guinea-pigs –  and sought feedback about my Biteable reminder at the end.  I was convinced they’d find the bear cartoons childish, but apparently not – he went down perfectly okay!  However, I do intend to have another look at the cartoon options, because there’s a limit to how often you can employ the same bear!

Not Quite Jimmy Shand!

A DIFFERENT KIND OF LEARNING2019-01-25 17.35.25.jpg

It seemed appropriate to have a ‘bucket list’ for my 60th year.  (My 61st year, I suppose, if you consider that my birthday marked the end of 60 years!)

So, I thought a modest bucket list would be achievable, and made a mental list.  It only had three things on it.  Halfway through the year, I hadn’t achieved one of them – it wasn’t looking good.

  1. Visit Bath
  2. Visit Chawton House (the Jane Austen museum)
  3. Learn to play the accordion

Why the accordion? Well, I feel that it’s all very well being a musicologist who plays the piano and arranges Scottish and Regency tunes, but as a musicologist with a PhD in Scottish Georgian and Victorian tunes, I occupy a strange, liminal existence where I’m neither a Classical nor a trad musician.  I’m not a virtuoso performer at all, to be honest, though my piano and organ-playing have stood me in good stead in a number of different contexts.  And as for trad – well, a sixty-year old will never learn the fiddle nor the flute, nor pick up the bagpipes well enough to play with other people.  Yes, I have recorders, and I suppose I could learn the whistle, but I wasn’t particularly drawn to this option.  Neither am I likely to be invited to play keyboards in a ceilidh band.  What to do?

Of course, there was another consideration … I’m the Honorary Librarian of the Friends of Wighton in Dundee, and I’ve been cataloguing Jimmy Shand’s music.  Now, this wouldn’t have influenced my choice of new instrument, would it?!  As it happens, Jimmy played a button accordion. That WASN’T in my calculations!

Yes, I decided to teach myself the piano accordion.  Not to play Georgian and Victorian tunes of any description, just to be able to play something that I might one day be able to use in some kind of  amateur group context.  I was generously lent an instrument from the Traditional Music department at work – a 48 bass Parrot.  It’s quite old, but fully functional (though there’s a rotating wheel thing that I would have assumed was a volume control – and it does nothing at all!) – and just needed new straps.  That done, I found a chart, and now understand the cycle of fifths that determines the pattern of the chord buttons – and what each row of buttons actually does.  Borrowing an instrument has been a good idea, not least because I now know that if I were to buy a secondhand instrument, I will need more buttons. At the moment I can play major and minor chords, but not diminished or 7th ones.  So The Parrot has prevented me from buying something that I would later find limiting!

I borrowed the instrument a little over a week ago, and brought it home last Saturday afternoon.  I’ve devoted quite a few hours to my self-instruction, and have recorded the results. I’m not a prodigy!

Weekend 1.

Weekend 2.  (Believe me, if all those endearing young charms)

2018 Round-Up: In Creative Mode

I’m afraid it’s in my genes: my father was a musician, and my mother is a gifted seamstress. So what do I do for relaxation? I arrange or compose tunes, and I sew.  It’s an absolutely essential outlet for me.

MUSICAL CREATIVITY

I arrange Scottish tunes for small ensembles, and occasionally write songs with a folk influence. Find my tunes on Sheet Music Plus, or as Finale renditions on SoundCloud.  In 2019, I aspire to more tunes and (definitely) more live performances!

Arrangements

  • The lone wanderer
  • Nora’s vow – wind trio, or for voice, flute and treble recorder
  • The twa corbies

Originals

  • David Middleton goes to Aviemore – a set of tunes
  • For the Guild – a set of tunes
  • Jackdaw Jo, a ballad – voice, flute, violin, piano
  • My foot has gone to sleep – a set of tunes

SEWING

Also by way of relaxation, I sew – my own clothes, patchwork, and occasionally whimsical toys or wallhangings.  Here are some highlights from 2018:-