22 SES 08 C, Students' Perspectives and Motivations
In Denmark, the so-called academisation of the welfare professions has had a number of practical effects: It has led to a higher degree of research within the professions, and it has led to an increased focus on theorising knowledge and practice fields of the professions. It has also led to changes in a number of higher educational, professional study programs as for instance teacher, educator, nurse, social worker, etc. The academisation manifests itself particularly in the efforts to develop research-informed teaching and learning approaches in these study programs. The research-informed teaching is implemented within professional education programs, which are characterised by involving both theoretical and practical elements and courses. This means that students are taught both in theory (reading, lecture, project writing) and practice (clinical training). One purpose of this interaction is to give future professional practitioners a high level of theoretical reflection and communication skill, as well as a theory-informed action competence in the professional practice. The challenge within this development has been that students experience theory as isolated from and inconsistent with the practice they experience in clinical training. Consequently, many professionals within the welfare professions experience a so-called practice shock, either when they as students begin clinical training, or when they as newly qualified professionals begin their first job. Therefore, students drop out of the study program, or newly qualified professionals leave the profession. Opposite, many students also experience, what I will term a 'theory schock'. This relates to the same experience of remotedness of theoretical concepts from the practical reality as mentioned above, but here, it also relates to difficulties in participating in the increasingly academic environment in the educational institutions. In either case, the study programs may have an excluding effect on students that are not familiar with education.
The reasons for this development are of course complex, but one of the consequences of the effort to research base the professional education programs seems to be that students’ personal development of identity within the community of the education and profession has become of less importance, or maybe is overlooked. Maybe too much confidence in ‘neutral’ and evidence-based knowledge has left the formative and personal aspects of education out of sight, relying on the idea that the impact of information about ‘what works’ is so convincing that the personal aspect of building a professional identity is unnecessary. However, when relying one-sidedly on ‘neutral’, evidence-based research, the students may have trouble relating their previous experience with the still unknown professional ways of conceptualising concrete, professional situations, or, in other words, to develop a professional identity. Therefore, the outset of this paper is to present reseach results based on the development of new approaches to teaching and learning in a higher educational context, integrating arts as a means to enhance students' personal engagement, involvement and participation in developing collective opportunities for identity building learing processes.
In this case, arts integration in teaching and learning was tried out as an experiment within social education studies. The paper unfolds insights from a concrete action-research-based development project at a Danish university college. In the project, a group of educators have experimented with teaching methods involving art works and artistic methods in preparing students for clinical practice. The assumption was that arts and artistic activities offers the students multiple and inclusive ways to participate in the higher educational learning environment, following multiple learning styles and ways to identify themselves with theoretical and professional content. This has an opportunity to happen, when students are asked to dramatise (challenging) professional situations, or paint theoretical concepts, or write a poem about a professional issue.
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