22 SES 07 C, Students' Support
In the 60’s and 70’s a number of Universities departed from the directions of many of the established ones to adopt a focus on problem-based learning. Aalborg University (AAU) was one of those reform universities, next to McMaster, Maastricht, and Roskilde University. With a focus on an applied problem-oriented and project-based learning model (Barrows, 1985; Illeris, 1974) it was based on the notion that learning should take its departure in students’ contextual problem understanding, be self- or participant directed, team-based and employ an interdisciplinary approach (Kolmos & Graaff, 2014). In theory, this approach should result that graduates have obtained the competencies of being able to identify and solve complex problems while working in diverse group arrangements, something future employers would find highly attractive.
This paper presents the early stages of an investigation that is part of a larger project on the future of PBL to explore: In what way will a facilitated individual reflection tool utilising digital media help students in their preparation for their future work life?
Our interest stems from our wonderings that while students’ development of transferable collaboration skills is at the heart of the AAU PBL model and often a reason for its popularity amongst employers, there may be a tendency towards implicit learning in groups. This could potentially make it difficult for the individual to grasp the specific learning outcomes they have acquired from different courses and projects, within and across semesters and may result in a lack of individual awareness of his/her PBL competences when students enter the labour market.
This paper presents a synthesis of key literature to explore this further. We find that while there are studies that indicate that in the engineering field, the gap between education and work experienced by AAU graduates is less significant compared to the rest of the Danish institutions (Kolmos & Bylov, 2016; Tymon, 2011), other research studies show that students find it difficult to understand and articulate the collaboration skills they acquire through their group work (Kolmos, 1999). While Krogh and Jensen (2013) report about the practice at AAU of Students Development Dialogues which are individual reflective discussions with supervisors, those are not conducted systematically across all educations.
Though students working in a PBL environment has possibility to train cross-disciplinary skills and personal qualifications, the same environment can for some students make it difficult to build a professional identity (Pedersen, 2003). The PBL environment may also cause some of the competencies to become tacit requiring explicit reflection and conceptualization. A possible option is to create interventions such as reflective dialogue between peers (Fladkjær & Otrel-Cass, 2017) or to use digital technology as mean to mitigate this issue and create and sustain a reflective practice in a PBL environment (Jenson, 2011; Lund, Krogh, & Aarup Jensen, 2008). According to Rowley et al. (2017) ePortfolios enables the students to use reflection as vehicle for future change making reflective practice a desired outcome for learners. A portfolio then represents a practice-oriented method encompassing metacognition, reflection and development of self-regulated learning with the presumed possibility to disseminate qualifications and competences within a topic (Lund et al., 2008). A challenge in implementing portfolios in an educational sphere is according to Jenson (2011) “that most college students are product – not process –driven” (p. 50). Another challenge is to nest the technology in a PBL environment where the core element of the pedagogical practice is group work (Laursen, 2013), the nexus of the learning experience.
The paper is presenting the outcomes of a literature review to identify the elements needed for supporting a reflective practice nested in a PBL environment. The review forms the basis for a framework to be implemented, tested and evaluated with students and teachers from five faculties tracked over four semesters. The data are entries in applied reflective tools, focus group interviews recorded on video.
The aim of this study is to explore how individual students can identify emerging PBL competences, how this effect the development of a professional identity, how reflective tools can trace the learners’ progression, and how these insights can be disseminated to a variety of stakeholders. The outcomes of this review will shape the next phases of the project where we will be working with case study groups across all faculties to identify and co-construct reflective tool options and evaluate their value to students.
Armitage, A. (2013). Conscientization, Dialogue and Collaborative Problem Based Learning. Journal of Problem Based Learning in Higher Education, 1(1), 1–18. EHEA. (2016a). Employability. Retrieved January 24, 2018, from http://www.ehea.info/pid34423/employability.html EHEA. (2016b). Employability of graduates - European Higher Education Area and Bologna Process. Retrieved November 29, 2017, from http://www.ehea.info/pid34423-cid102525/employability-of-graduates.html Fladkjær, H. F., & Otrel-Cass, K. (2017). A Cogenerative Dialogue. In T. Chemi & L. Krogh (Eds.), Co-Creation in Higher Education: Students and Educators Preparing Creatively and Collaboratively to the Challenge of the Future (pp. 83–98). SensePublishers, Rotterdam. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-6351-119-3 Jenson, J. D. (2011). Promoting Self-regulation and Critical Reflection Through Writing Students’ Use of Electronic Portfolio. International Journal of Eportfolio, 1(1), 49–60. Kolmos, A. (1999). Progression of Collaborative Skills. In J. W. A. n. Conway & J. W. A. n. Conway (Eds.), Themes and Variations in PBL, Vol. 1 : Refereed Proceedings of the 1999 Bi-ennial PBL, Conference, July 7-10, 1999, Montreal, Canada Kolmos, A., & Graaff, E. d. (2014). Problem-Based and Project-Based Learning in Engineering Education. In B. M. Olds & A. Johri (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research (pp. 141-161.): Cambridge University Press. Krogh, L., & Jensen, A. A. (2013). Supporting students' reflection in HE by use of Students Development Dialogues. In C. Rust (Ed.), Improving Student Learning - Through Research and Scholarship: 20 years of ISL. (Vol. 20, pp. 151-163). Chapter 5. Oxford Brookes University, UK: Oxford Brookes University Krogh, L., & Aarup Jensen, A. (2013). The Development of PBL-Methodologies in Denmark and Current Challenges. In L. Krogh & A. Aarup Jensen (Eds.), Visions, challenges, and strategies : PBL principles and methodologies in a Danish and global perspective (pp. 17–28). Aalborg : Aalborg University Press. Laursen, E. (2013). PPBL: A Flexible Model Addressing the Problems of Transfer. In L. Krogh & A. Aarup Jensen (Eds.), Visions, challenges, and strategies : PBL principles and methodologies in a Danish and global perspective (pp. 29–45). Aalborg : Aalborg University Press. OECD. (2017). OECD Employment Outlook 2017. OECD Employment Outlook 2017. Paris: OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/empl_outlook-2017-7-en Rowley, J., Munday, J., & Polly, P. (2017). Supporting Critical Thinking Through Digital Learning and Teaching: A Portfolio Process. In P. Paula & A. Mesquita (Eds.), 16th European Conference on eLearning ECEL 2017 (pp. 461–465). ACPIL. Tymon, A. (2011). The student perspective on employability. Studies in Higher Education, 38, 841-856. doi:10.1080/03075079.2011.604408
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