Woodhill Park Retreat

Dr. Jens J. Hansen

Dr. Jens J. Hansen has worked in education for more than four decades and his interests span research methods, adult learning, philosophy and rural education.
He has survived a suite of experiences including parenthood, building, badminton and red wine.
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 Articles by this Author

On Organisational Development

Most of us know about organisations which are, for one reason or another, dysfuntional in one way or another.  Equally, most of us know, rightly or wrongly, about what we consider to be wrong with elements within that organisation.  But whatever the malaise we've identified, we must remember that organisations consist of people, plant and processes.  So if adjustments need to be made, it follows that they should focus on those domains.  

A colleague of mine, Patrick Baker, showed me a rubric for organisational development once and I'm sharing that with you here.  It is a single page diagram and I've altered the original, hopefully improving it (click here to access that diagram).  I've also made a slideshow I generated available to anyone who wants to see the diagram as a series of elements (click here for the slideshow) 

After playing with an application called Mendeley, we've included this resource material for you to peruse.  Many thanks to Justin Matthews for being the first player off the block as per usual. 

The PDF paper is quite brief and it critically details the usefulness of Mendeley and various tributories for accessing journal articles. 
This PowerPoint show was developed for the Doctor of Business Studies Symposium that was held at the Manukau Institute of Technology, South Auckland, on August 6th and 7th, 2011.  Essentially, candidates present either up-dates which detail their progress or have a crack at sharing their thesis proposals.  They do this to a discerning audience of academics and peers. 

But as with practically all doctoral candidates who are immersed in producing their 'opus magnificus' the matter of how to actually write a thesis tends to hover, somewhat like the Sword of Damocles, over the proceedings.  The PowerPoint presentation is by no means the complete word on thesis construction but it is included here as a PDF because I'd promised those present that I would upload the work.    
This is the first of a three parts on the vexed matter of ethics and the impact of ethics committees.  This first part proposes that a latent consequence of the deliberations of ethics committees is that they change the design and behaviour of researchers in a range of ways.  I have labelled this as "ethical determinism" and propose that there are at least five variants to this phenomenon.  To access that paper, click here

The second part will examine the need to develop 'win-win' situations between ethics committees and researchers.  Some possible common-sense strategies will also be proposed.  That dimension is currently in preparation in conjunction with Jo Perry with support from Manukau Institute of Technolgy.  As a preliminary portion of that exercise, we developed and presented a (refereed) presentation for the 2010 New Zealand Association for Research in Education.  That presentation owes much to the theoretical framework of 'tensions' as developed by Dr A.W. (Tony) English who has recently written a wonderfully crafted book ('Tug of War', published by Common Ground).  To access that presentation, please click here.  

The third and final installment of this opinion peiece will likely be a fuller study.  As I see it, the study will consider some cases where ethical considerations have gone awry and will briefly outline the consequences of such outcomes for researchers and research supporting agencies.   In other words, that contemplated exercise will be framed to investigate the impact of research ethics across a range of tertiary establishments in Aotearoa New Zealand. 

In concluding this commentary, I need to make the point that as this is an opinion piece, it comprises my ruminations about an issue.  This means that I've not yet looked at the literature about this matter and much of what I have to say here may, in fact, already have been considered by other writers.  If anyone wants to drop me a line about any of the points I've made, please do... so here we go with part one of three.  

On Ethical Determinism - Five Uneasy Pieces

This is concerned with the vexed matter of ethics and the impact of ethics committees.  I argue that a latent consequence of the deliberations of ethics committees is that they change the design and behaviour of researchers in a range of ways.  I have labelled this as "ethical determinism" and propose that there are at least five variants to this phenomenon.  Click here to access the thinking I've sketched out so far.

In a paper currently being prepared by Jo Perry and myself with assistance from Manukau Institute of technology, we are proposing that Dr Tony English's Tension Concept is very useful indeed in understanding the ways in which ethics are dealt with, often in very unsatisfactory ways.   We believe that there is a need to develop 'win-win' situations between ethics committees and researchers and for that reason, we want to explore some possible common-sense strategies that could be trialed.  A preliminary phase of our current project involved the development of a (refereed) presentation for the most recent NZARE conference that was held in Auckland in December, 2010.  Anyone wishing to access the slide show we developed, can access the PDF version of our work by clicking here

By way of comment, we want to tell you that we have planned to seek funding for a somewhat more comprehensive study and in completing that investigation, we want to consider instances where ethical considerations have gone awry; we want to probe the consequences of such outcomes.  Please note that there is also a blog with this 'paper' and please also note that readers are once again free to use the material provided that they follow normal academic courtesies when they reference the materials.

Beginner’s guide to writing a persuasive academic abstract

This is a two page guide to writing an abstract effectively.  An academic abstract is a miniature work of art.  Abstracts are not always produced as a summarising version of completed academic labour; instead, they frequently espouse academic intentions to deliver scholastic outputs and/or research outcomes in time for a scheduled event.  

A robust abstract addresses four central questions which ask: What is it about? What did you do? What did you find? and, How is that important?  An abstract that is concentrated is potent and potency heralds resolute work.  A well constructed abstract is staunch writing that conveys maximum meaning through minimum words.  To access the full guide as a PDF, click here

To access an expanded guide that traverses additional forms of abstracts such as presentations, journal articles, book chapters, posters, or even workshops, click here.

Keynote address to Seventh Early Childhood Education Symposium at Manukau Institue of Technology, March, 2010

"Would the REAL you please stand up." The importance of Self as Teacher. 

Dr Jens J. Hansen, Woodhill Park Research Retreat

As teachers we assume a broad range of roles – we sometimes prompt learners, we are often prompted by them; we are sometimes teachers, oft-times learners; we are sometimes testers and we’re very frequently tested. We’re expected to have the soul of a leader and the mind of a manager; we have to be politically astute sensitive ambassadors but we also have to be hard-nosed, resolute drivers. At the drop of a hat we’re expected to perform brilliantly– sometimes as comical buffoons and at other times as tragic-heroes, dripping with pathos. And occasionally we even perform farcically. We need eyes in the back of our head and ears which discern more than what is being said. We even need a nose that ‘knows’! So how best might we make sense of the complex mosaic that is the teacher’s role-set? This address examines role-challenges which confront teachers – novices and veterans alike. It is reasoned that clarifying teacher roles involves knowing yourself, your values, your ethics, your ideals. That’s never going to be easy even though it’s important for your learners and for your professional self. But it can be done.

Goffman, E. (1959). 

The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Anchor Books 

What is shown above is the abstract for that presentation.  The accompanying powerpoint presentation, which provides more detail, can be accessed by clicking here

[Please note that the various film clips and animations which were used are not accessible in this powerpoint presentation.]

A brief look at surveys.  This article introduces a power-point show on how to design a survey.  As viewers will find, there's a lot more to developing an effective survey than meets the eye.

A suggestion I'd seriously make is that readers may also find it useful to peruse the paper about approaches to research.  That paper, like this resource, resides in the free research resources folder and it's just below this item.   

This paper provides an account of a class activity that was undertaken with some research methods students which led to the development of a procedure that can help candidates frame their thesis topic.  (Click here to access this very brief paper.)  A slide show was subsequently developed that traverses the process. (Click here to activate that slide show.)

Key Note Address to National Hui of Community Houses, Aotearoa New Zealand: Are Community Houses in Aotearoa New Zealand Poor Houses?

In early October, I enjoyed the privilege and honour of being the inaugural key-note speaker at the inaugural National Hui of the Community Houses of Aotearoa New Zealand.  One of the most interesting things I discovered during my surfing of materials prior to preparing the presentation was that the concept of community houses appears to be firmly nested in Western culture.  In other words, houses which are used by members of communities and neighbourhoods do seem to be a mainly Eurocentric construct although I have no doubt that marae and fale are Maori and Pasifika equivalents.  And doubtless there are others…

Interestingly, some of the essence of just what a community house might be was traversed at a panel discussion during the morning session.  At the time I summarised the threads of the very wide ranging discussion by seeking to extract the very kernel of what the panellists were saying and after having shared it with the conference attendees, I promised I’d put it onto this website.  Accordingly, I've reproduced that summary here and I have to say that despite revision, I'm not yet sure that I've done justice to what the contributors had to say.  However, I think that what the panel said has substantial value so all I've tried to do is to capture, condense and concentrate their collective messages - with integrity!  Fundamentally, it seemed to me the people on the panel proposed that...

Community Houses are diversely responsive not-for-profit agencies which variously deliver three key dimensions of service to their communities of interest:

  1. They provide space for community resources and services.  This means they serve as a meeting hub for the communities of interest and communities of practice which operate within them.  The size of the operational footprint that each house serves seems to determine the extent to which space is needed.  For large pockets of population such as in cities, larger shared buildings, often comprising a multitude of small spaces, appear to operate for a kaleidoscope of stand-alone agencies.  However, for smaller population pockets such as neighbourhoods, small cottages with many fewer spaces seem to be the norm.  And within cities where community houses are located in neighbourhoods, the size of buildings varies from medium to small depending upon the size of neighbourhood and population being served.  Irrespective of size, a reasonably useful indicator of the effectiveness of all such spaces seems to be not so much the numbers of people coming in and out of a building, but rather, the percentage of time each of the discrete spaces within those buildings are used.
  2. They offer learning and development activities.  These programmes can be structured (non-formal programmes of learning) or unstructured (informal and incidental learning episodes).  They may involve facilitated learning exchanges, information giving and receiving, problem solving and/or conflict resolution, social development and knowledge creation and/or distribution. They are offered to people of all ages - young children (as per Plunket) through to the aged.  Moreover, the learning and development activities offered by community houses are open to all, irrespective of culture, ablility, disability and status.  Community Houses are, therefore, educationally egalitarian in outlook and seek to be so in practice - they are agencies which are led by practitioners and facilitators of lifelong learning and development.
  3. They provide servant leadership.  This involves the facilitation of development so that individuals and groups may grow; it also involves the provision of remedial services which can ameliorate community inequalities and address injustices.  The provision of servant leadership is the means by which resources become marshalled and programmes of development delivered.  It is the flux which binds together the successful operations of community houses. 

Importantly, Community Houses seek to ensure that the developmental futures of the numerous communities of practice with which they are connected are assured. Community houses seek to enable individuals and groups to flourish with independence and integrity.  These groups and individuals must be allowed to do so at their pace and in their own time.  They must be able to prosper not only in places and spaces governed by community house members, but equally, they must be helped to operate within spaces which are more familiar to client settings.  This means that the remit of those working from community houses ideally extends beyond the walls of the house into all of the community.


I especially enjoyed what the panel had to say because, in many ways, it blends well with the ideas about Etienne Wenger's communities of practice I introduced during my presentation.  So if you have a closer look at the final slides of the powerpoint show that follows, you'll see some congruences between the two sessions.

When I prepared the key-note, I created a power-point show within which were displayed a number of hyperlinks.  These hyperlinks were internal links to WebPages which I'd saved to the hard drive on my laptop.  (I'd done that in case there'd been no capacity to hook up to the Internet.)  In the spirit of enabling, which is another hallmark of community houses, I've uploaded the slideshow onto this site.  But because the hyperlinks which were embedded within the slides have been removed, the slides don't link to anything external.  If you want to have a look at what was produced, though, click here.  And as always, feedback is very welcome.