22 SES 11 A, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
European higher education institutions have introduced a number of changes in curricula as a consequence of the Bologna process. Besides advocating the construction, in a time horizon of ten years, of a cohesive, harmonious, competitive and attractive European Higher Education that facilitated the comparability of degrees in higher education (European Ministers of Education, 1999; Eurydice, 2010), the Bologna Process also implies changes in the educational paradigm: a new kind of education, focusing on acquiring and developing skills by active involvement of students in the learning process. Several reasons can be called upon when discussing the need to shift from traditional learning to student centered learning in higher education, as for example, the need for learning to be aimed at professional practice, to foster critical thinking, student autonomy, creativity and the importance of developing active and deep learning (Helle et al., 2006).
In this way, a "new" philosophy of teaching is needed, requiring a different role from teachers and students, and consequently, different teaching, learning and assessment practices which should be student centered. Project-Based Learning (PBL) is an active learning approach that is aligned to the main trends of the Bologna process. Although its increasing developments and recent widespread implementation, PBL's origin can be found in the ideas of John Dewey (1916) who emphasizes the preparation of students for active participation of students in all aspects of democratic life. He defends the interaction between a learner and his environment in e meaningful way. Kilpatrick (1918) argues that education should be purposeful “(…) Education based on the purposeful act prepares best for life while at the same time it constitutes the present worthy life itself” (Kilpatrick, 1918, p. 323).
Sharing these same beliefs on teaching and learning, a group of teachers at the University of Minho selected this approach to be included in their courses, looking forward to change teaching and learning practices in order to meet the demands of the Bologna process and improve student learning and teaching practices. The PBL approach followed the Project Led Engineering Education (PLEE) model developed by Powell & Weenk (2003). The key features of the project based approach aim at fostering student-centeredness, teamwork, interdisciplinarity, development of critical thinking and competencies related to interpersonal communication and project management. By learning through projects and teamwork, students move from merely listening and reading about abstract concepts to working with their teammates in applying those concepts in order to solve real-world problems.
In this context, PBL constitutes an opportunity for teachers to reflect on their teaching philosophy (Atkinson, 2000), clarifying their own beliefs about teaching, learning and assessment in higher education.
Atkinson, M. (2000). Your teaching philosophy. STLHE: Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, Bardin, L. (2004). Análise de Conteúdo. (3ª Ed.). Lisboa, Portugal: Edições 70. Denzin, N. & Lincoln, Y. (1994). Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Dewey, J., 1916, “Democracy and Education. An introduction to the philosophy of education” New York: Free Press. European Ministers of Education, 1999, “The Bologna Declaration of 19 June 1999” The European Higher Education Area. Eurydice, 2010, “Focus on Higher Education in Europe 2010: The Impact of the Bologna Process” Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA P9 Eurydice), available from: http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/documents/thematic_reports/122EN.pdf, accessed at 2013.0330. Fernandes, S. (2011). Aprendizagem baseada em Projectos no contexto do Ensino Superior: Avaliação de um dispositivo pedagógico no Ensino de Engenharia. Tese de Doutoramento em Ciências da Educação (área de especialização em Desenvolvimento Curricular). Centro de Investigação em Educação. Universidade do Minho. Fernandes, S., Flores, M.A., Lima, R.M., (2012). Student Assessment in Project-based Learning. in: Campos, L.C.d., Dirani, E.A.T., Manrique, A.L. and van Hattum-Janssen, N. (Eds.), Project Approaches to Learning in Engineering Education: The Practice of Teamwork. Sense Publishers, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, pp. 147-160. ISBN: 978-94-6091-956-5. Helle, L., Tynjälä, P., & Olkinuora, E. (2006). Project-based learning in post-secondary education - theory, practice and rubber sling shots. Higher Education. 51(2), 287-314. Kilpatrick, W. H., 1918, “The project method” Teachers College Record, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp.319-335. Lima, R. M., Carvalho, D., Flores, M. A., & van Hattum-Janssen, N. (2007). A case study on project led education in engineering: Students' and teachers' perceptions. European Journal of Engineering Education, 32:3, 337-347. Powell, P. C. and Weenk, W., 2003, “Project-Led Engineering Education” Utrecht: Lemma. Silverman, D. (1997) (org.). Qualitative research: Theory, Method and Practice. London: Sage
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