22 SES 01 B, Assessment and Conditions of Student Learning
European higher education institutions (HEIs) have to engage in curricular and pedagogical renewal to increase not only the quantity but also the quality of higher education graduates. A paradigm and culture shift from teacher-centred to student-centred learning and instruction is crucial if HEIs intend to prepare their students for life and work in the knowledge society and economy of the 21st century. However, little granular qualitative research has been done so far in student-centred higher education classrooms. Existing constructivist principles and frameworks offered by education research are often disjointed and not specific enough to effectively support educators in HEIs. More empirical research is required, including identifying beacons of good practice, to get a better understanding of both the characteristics and quality features of powerful student-centred learning environments (SCLEs), and the challenges that instructors and students may face in such classrooms (e.g., European Students’ Union [ESU], 2012; Kember, 2009; Lea, Stephenson & Troy, 2003). This EU-funded research project concentrates on the micro level of classroom learning and instruction, and contributes to educational theory development and research on classroom teaching and instructional quality in the context of university-level (teacher) education. The onus is on the faculty to design and conduct courses in a way that encourages students to take responsibility for their learning by being actively involved in the learning process (Weimer, 2013).
How can instructors design and bring to life powerful student-centred learning environments that provide students with opportunities for deep learning? The scientific objective of this research project is to develop a situative educational model to guide the design and implementation of powerful SCLEs in higher education classrooms. The model aims to support instructors, curriculum developers, faculty developers, administrators and educational managers from all disciplines and across different educational settings in making informed instructional decisions regarding course design, classroom interaction and community building. This research project synthesises relevant education research and investigates concrete and successful ground-level examples from within the higher education classroom. These authentic instructional practices are crucial as they display how instructional expertise manifests itself in the quality of classroom teaching (e.g., Pauli & Reusser, 2011). Thereby, a systemic (instead of an elemental) approach to learning research is used to investigate two holistic research questions at the nexus of higher education policy, research and practice (Sawyer, 2014).
A conceptual framework is developed based on findings from learning sciences research in general and empirical research on the effectiveness and quality of teaching and learning in particular. Findings from different constructivist perspectives and education research strands are synthesised and aligned to derive common design principles and instructional quality dimensions and features of SCLEs. Recent classroom research indicates that instructors have to take greater account of both surface-level features of instruction referring to the observable “sight structures” describing teaching practices and the organisation of learning activities in the classroom, and deeper-level instructional features referring to both the quality of the actual learning and teaching processes, and the teacher-student interactions in order to provide students with opportunities for deep learning (e.g., Greeno, 2011; Reusser, Pauli & Waldis, 2010). The framework adopts a situative perspective that brings together common design principles and instructional quality dimensions and features of SCLEs to be considered when analysing, designing and implementing powerful SCLEs in educational settings. Apart from well-founded common constructivist design principles, the framework integrates instructional quality dimensions and features of both teaching and learning processes (cognitive activation, classroom management, adaptive learning support) and classroom interaction (dialogic discourse practices, norms of interaction, supportive climate). The framework serves as a starting point and point of reference to structure the empirical research context.
Denzin, N. K. & Lincoln, Y. S. (eds.) (2011). The Sage handbook of qualitative research (4th edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Engle, R. A. (2011). The productive disciplinary engagement framework: Origins, key con-cepts and developments. In D. Y. Dai (ed.), Design research on learning and thinking in educational settings: Enhancing intellectual growth and functioning (pp. 161–200). London: Taylor & Francis. Engle, R. A. & Conant, F. (2002). Guiding principles for fostering productive disciplinary engagement: Explaining an emergent argument in a community of learners classroom. Cognition and Instruction, 20, 399–483. Engle, R. A. & Faux, R. B. (2006). Fostering substantive engagement of beginning teachers in educational psychology: Comparing two methods of case-based instruction. Teaching Educational Psychology, 1(2), 3–24. European Students’ Union (ESU) (2012). Bologna with student eyes. Retrieved, January 20, 2016 from http://www.esu-online.org/asset/News/6068/BWSE2012-online1.pdf Glaser, B. G. & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago, IL: Aldine. Greeno, J. G. (2011). A situative perspective on cognition and learning in interaction. In T. Koschmann (ed.), Theories of learning and studies of instruction (pp. 41–72). New York, NY: Springer. Kember, D. (2009). Promoting student-centred forms of learning across an entire university. Higher Education, 58, 1–13. Lea, S. J., Stephenson, D. & Troy, J. (2003). Higher education students’ attitudes to student centred learning: Beyond ‘educational bulimia’. Studies in Higher Education, 28(3), 321–334. Miles, M. B., Huberman, A. M. & Saldaña, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook (3rd edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Pauli, C. & Reusser, K. (2011). Expertise in Swiss mathematics instruction. In Y. Li & G. Kaiser (eds.), Expertise in mathematics instruction. An international perspective (pp. 85–107). New York, NY: Springer. Reusser, K., Pauli, C. & Waldis, M. (Hrsg.) (2010). Unterrichtsgestaltung und Unterrichtsqualität. Ergebnisse einer internationalen und schweizerischen Videostudie zum Mathematikunterricht. Münster: Waxmann. Sawyer, R. K. (2014). Introduction: The new science of learning. In R. K. Sawyer (ed.), The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 1–18). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Weimer, M. (2013). Learner-centered teaching: Five key changes to practice (2nd edition). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Yin, R. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (4th edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
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