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Further Guidance on the SEDA Values

What does SEDA mean by ‘underpinning values’?
These SEDA underpinning values are not an attempt to prescribe what we think or believe or feel. They are rather about our actions as teacher, supporter of learning, developer. They are sometimes about what we do; sometimes about why and how we do it; sometimes about what our actions are intended to achieve. This does not claim to be an exhaustive list of the values which should underpin our practice. But these values, and any that we individually may add, live in our actions.

In the sections below we offer some ideas to help explore what these values might mean and how they inform your work. They are illustrative, not prescriptive. We understand that we all need to interpret these values for our own particular learners and educational settings.

1. An understanding of how people learn
Learning is a complex and challenging business that takes place in different ways, in different contexts. Many factors encourage or inhibit learning and these will vary from learner to learner, depending upon purpose and environment. This value encourages us to think through why we do things. Informed by such understanding, our support of learning and development is likely to be more effective.

2. Scholarship, professionalism and ethical practice
Scholarship, professionalism and ethical practice are inextricably linked and underpin our work.

The idea of scholarship encourages learners and developers to adopt an informed, critical and analytic approach to what they are learning and how they are learning it. By drawing on alternative perspectives, theories, models, policies and research, scholarship involves us in questioning and challenging our practice.

Ethical practice above all means recognising the different power balances inherent in our roles and relationships, and not misusing them. It also means adhering to any other ethical guidelines required by the individual’s primary discipline or profession.

Professionalism embraces scholarship and ethical practice. In addition, it involves establishing and maintaining clear contracts or frameworks with those whose learning is to be supported. It also encourages us to commit to the ongoing improvement of our own practice and to our respective communities.

3. Working in and developing learning communities
There are many kinds of learning communities. For example:  

  • A group of learners, meeting in a class or a virtual environment, can be a community in which learners support each others' learning, giving each other feedback and encouragement and appropriate practical or academic help.  
  • Colleagues, peers, developers and supporters of learning can form a learning community, sharing ideas, practice, reflections and theory  and learning about the business of development and the support of  learning.  
  • Other groups related to our primary discipline or the profession to which we belong.

4. Working effectively with diversity and promoting inclusivity
In our learning support and development practice it is important to identify and seek to meet the many and varied learning needs of the learners with whom we work. In doing so we offer opportunities for us and for our learners to learn from, and also, where appropriate, to learn about each other.In addition, we seek to ensure that each learner has, as far as is possible, the same or appropriately equivalent opportunity to learn, develop and succeed.

5. Continuing reflection on professional practice
As professionals, we need to continue to learn and to develop our professional expertise. Perhaps the most powerful tool for supporting our development is our continuing scholarly, deep, analytic reflection on our practice.Remembering that the need to engage with theory underpins all our practice, questions to prompt reflection might include, before a single development event,

  • “What am I trying to achieve?”
  • “How will I know how successful I have been?”

During the event,

  • “How is it going?”
  • “What, if any, changes should I make now?”

After the event,

  • “How did it go?”
  • “How far did the teaching achieve what I intended it to achieve?”
  • “How do I know this?”
  • “Why did what I did have the effects that it did?”
  • “What unintended things happened?”
  • “What could or should I do differently next time?”

These last 6 questions can be repeated after a series of events, and then, after going round these cycles a few times, we can ask further questions, about the value of the questions themselves and how we can become better at reflecting.

Reflecting is essential but not sufficient. We also need action, a testing and implementation of what we have learned in our practice, so that we can learn and improve from the continued interaction between action and reflection, each informing the other.

6. Developing people and processes
In our learning support and development practice we are concerned with the development of ourselves, our learners, the institutions we work in and the educational processes with which we work.

Value 5 suggests we develop ourselves by a cycle of continuing reflection. We also develop ourselves through the conventional forms of staff development including reading, conversation, workshops, conferences, working with our professional associations and undertaking development projects. This is enhanced by capturing what we have learned from these activities and by exploring how we might test and apply what we have learned.

We aid the development of those whose learning we support by helping each of them to do much the same. We help them to reflect on their learning and their experiences, and to apply and test their learning and their practical experience against each other, accepting that the nature of both learning and practical experience may differ greatly according to their context.

This value is also shown in action when we contribute to the formation of policy and to the enactment of new approaches and practices in areas within and beyond our immediate personal control.

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