03 SES 04 B, Embedding Students' Project Work in the Curriculum
This study represents a qualitative inquiry into formative experiences of teachers working as team coaches in Proakatemia BBA programme in Entrepreneurship and Team Leadership in Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK), Finland. The studies in the programme are based on an approach of team-based entrepreneurial learning originally developed in Team Academy in Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences in Finland. In Proakatemia, the studies are based on starting and running cooperative enterprises owned by the students that sell their products and services to businesses and consumers. The field of business of each cooperative is chosen by the students.
The learning process in Proakatemia is facilitated and supported by members of teaching staff working as team coaches. Their role differs significantly from that of teaching staff in other types of study programmes in that they rarely lecture, give assignments or hold exams. The coaches focus more on the development of the students’ capacity to find information and create practical knowledge together than being the main subject matter experts or sources of knowledge in the learning community.
The main research questions in this study were:
How is it like to become and be a team coach in a team-based entrepreneurship programme in a university of applied sciences?
What is experienced as meaningful in their work by the coaches?
The theoretical framework chosen for this study is based on a combination of phenomenological research of lived experience (van Manen, 2014) and phenomenography (for example, Marton, 1981).
The methodology chosen for this study was based on van Manen's (2014) approach to phenomenological research of lived experience in the context of education. The in-depth coach interviews (N=5) were collected and analysed following the guidelines for phenomenological interview by Englander (2012). The main focus of the interviews was on the meanings that the interviewees gave to their path of becoming coaches as well as their lived experience of coaching, using the talk connected with "existentials" of lived relation, body, space, time and things (van Manen, 2014) as cues to elicit "deeper" accounts of lived experience.
The role of a team coach requires specific capabilities and mindsets from the teaching staff. The preliminary analysis of coach interviews that focused on their experience shows important differences from the mindset behind the lecture-based paradigm of higher education. Themes such as forming trusting and even close relationships between the coach and the students and shifting the focus on longer-term growth process. The interviewed coaches showed interest in and understanding of the complex existential aspects of education, especially those that concerning lived relationships between the coach and the students and the time lived together in the educational process (cf. Manen, 2014). Based on this study and my own work as a coach in Proakatemia, I have started mapping the team coaches' role in Prokatemia. Currently, this map consists of five major aspects of the team coaches' role: (1) Modeling the shared path, (2) Building safe shared space, (3) Challenging and acting as a sparring partner, (4) Supporting growth and offering encouragement, and (5) Seeing and making visible. These aspects may be in contradiction and there is an inherent tension in the coaches' role: They may sometimes be perceived by the students as their friends (and, indeed, close friendships are often formed after graduation) but they must still be distant enough to be able to bring up, when necessary, difficult themes that nobody else in the team is either capable or willing to take up with their colleagues, challenge the team and individual students, cause "friction" that is necessary for growth, or, in the words of philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, "fracture the immanence", or the students' being with and for themselves (Biesta, 2016).
Biesta, G. J. J. (2017). The Rediscovery of Teaching (1 edition). New York, N.Y: Routledge. Englander, M. (2012). The Interview: Data Collection in Descriptive Phenomenological Human Scientific Research. Journal of Phenomenological Psychology, 43(1), 13-35. Manen, M. van. (2014). Phenomenology of Practice: Meaning-Giving Methods in Phenomenological Research and Writing. Walnut Creek, California: Routledge. Marton, F. (1981). Phenomenography - Describing conceptions of the world around us. Instructional Science, 10(2), 177-200.
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