22 SES 11 D, Teaching and Learning: Practices and Experiences
Over the last three to four decades it has been notorious the spread of ideas, policies, research and educational practices related to higher education contexts. This interest, associated in part to higher education massification, it is also the reflection of the many social, political and economic challenges posed towards the human and economic development. At this conjuncture, inevitably, higher education institutions, as socializing agents, can not fail responding.
This social orientation has led higher education institutions to seek understanding, through research, of the effects of educational practices and institutional experiences on students’ development, with a view to the adoption of more positive policies and educational practices.
The analysis of several studies reveals empirical evidence attesting to the occurrence of developmental changes on a set of outcomes expected to be acquired by students during college years: the acquisition of factual/ vocational knowledge and the development of a set of intellectual and psychosocial skills (e.g., Kuh et al., 2006; Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005).
At the same time, the literature also shows that contexts have a certain level of responsibility for these changes, especially through stimulating educational activities, in particular those that mobilize students’ energy, i.e., that are engaging.
This designation engaging, adopted by Kuh et al. (1991) applies to those higher education institutions that provide rich institutional environments, promoters of students’ engagement in its academic and social life and, consequently, enhancers of their learning, development and personal satisfaction.
According to these authors, the articulation of a set of institutional characteristics (i.e., clear institutional mission and philosophy, policies, curricular and extracurricular activities, institutional culture and environment; administrators, teachers and services that foster students’ learning and development) reflects itself on educational practices and opportunities offered to students: i) level of academic challenge provided by academic tasks; ii) active and collaborative learning strategies; iii) meaningful interactions between teachers and students; iv) extracurricular educational experiences; v) supportive institutional ethos either through the provision of learning resources as well as through the provision of social and academic support (kuh et al., 1991, 2005).
Although the literature holds the statement that rich contexts optimize development possibilities, the fact is that institutional impact is also determined by students’ effort and personal involvement in academic and extracurricular experiences provided by the institution, which is why it has been argued that many within-institutional effects seem to accentuate students’ features and initial provisions (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005).
Regarding the set of educational practices seen as mobilizing students’ involvement, we can find a substantial empirical body that proves its positive effects in a number of academic, intellectual and psychosocial outcomes. Such practices can be clustered into four major groups: i) supportive and intellectually stimulating institutional environments (e.g., Choi & Rhee, 2014; Severiens et al., 2006; Silva et al., 2014), ii) meaningful interactions with teachers (e.g., Mazer, 2013; Ryser et al., 2009; Silva et al., 2014), iii) meaningful interactions with peers (e.g., Choi & Rhee, 2014; Kuh, 2008), and iv) involvement opportunities in enriching educational activities at academic and social settings (e.g., Kuh, 2008; Lee, 2014; Tlhoaele et al., 2014; Silva et al., 2014; Wolf-Wendel et al., 2009).
Guided by the goal of taking actions towards educational improvement, this systematization has enabled higher education institutions all over the world to design assessment tools able to monitor its educational practices from the perceptions of students. Therefore, the positive impact of such practices on its students’ development would be enhanced. The studies presented here seek to do this mapping within the context of a Portuguese higher education institution.
Choi, B., & Rhee, B. (2014). The influences of student engagement, institutional mission, and cooperative learning climate on the generic competency development of Korean undergraduate students. Higher Education, 67, 1-18. doi:10.1007/s10734-013-9637-5 Kuh, G. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington: AACU Kuh, G., Kinzie, J., Buckley, J., Bridges, B., & Hayek, J. (2006). What matters to student success: a review of the literature. Comissioned report for the national symposium on postsecondary student success. Washington. Kuh, G., Kinzie, J., Schuh, J., Whitt, E., & Associates (2005). Student success in college: Creating conditions that matter. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Kuh, G., Schuh, J., Whitt, E., Andreas, R., Lyons, J., Strange, C.,… MacKay, K. (1991). Involving colleges: Successful approaches to fostering student learning and development outside the classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Lee, J. (2014). The relationship between student engagement and academic performance: Is it a myth or a reality? The Journal of Educational Research, 107, 177-185. doi:10.1080/00220671.2013.807491 Mazer, J. (2013). Student emotional and cognitive interest as mediators of teacher communication behaviors and student engagement: An examination of direct and indirect effects. Communication Education, 62 (3), 253-277. Pascarella, E., & Terenzini, P. (2005). How college affects students: a third decade of research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Ryser, L., Halseth, G., & Thien, D. (2009). Strategies and intervening factors influencing student social interaction and experiential learning in an interdisciplinary research team. Research in Higher Education, 50, 248-267. Severiens, S., Ten Dam, G., & Blom, S. (2006). Comparison of Dutch ethnic minority and majority engineering students: Social and academic integration. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 10 (1), 75-89. Silva, S. (2012). Dinâmicas de envolvimento e de desenvolvimento dos estudantes do ensino superior. Dissertação de doutoramento apresentada à Universidade de Coimbra. Silva, S., Ferreira, J. A., & Ferreira, A. (2014). Vivências no ensino superior e percepções de desenvolvimento: Dados de um estudo com estudantes do ensino superior. Revista E-Psi - Revista Eletrónica de Psicologia, Educação e Saúde, 4(1), 5-27. http://www.revistaepsi.com Tlhoaele, M., Hofman, A., Winnips, K., & Beetsma, Y. (2014). The impact of interactive engagement methods on students' academic achievement. Higher Education Research & Development, 33 (5), 1020-1034. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2014.890571 Wolf-Wendel, L., Ward, K., & Kinzie, J. (2009). A tangled web of terms: The overlap and unique contribution of involvement, engagement, and integration to understanding college student success. Journal of College Student Development, 50, 407-428.
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