22 SES 01 A, Learning and Instruction: Practices and design
The UN Agenda 2030 states as one of its Sustainable Development Goals (4): “By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles…” (UN.org) Teaching Economics, however, faces some major difficulties and conflicts of interest regarding that target. Sustainable lifestyles are in dissonance with the growth imperatives and “profit doctrines” (Chernomas/Hudson 2017) commonly communicated via economic theory. While Economics educators have high incentives to follow a (mostly neoliberal) “stick-to-the-textbook-approach”, “students wish for a more pragmatic, critical, multi-perspective education – an education that challenges attitudes and assumptions. We see this demand arising from both students and educators”. (Benton et al. 2018, 15) Following challenges can be identified for economics education, both in higher education and vocational education:
- The prevalent neoliberal Economics paradigm leads to a mono-methodical dominance of mathematical approaches;
- Critical discourse and multiple perspectives fall victim to efficiency-focused “aspirations of business-school-as-business-model” (Benton et al. 2018, 15);
- Incentive-oriented learning promotes ‘teaching/learning for the test’ instead of learning for personal development (“learning for understanding vs. learning for reproduction”, Augsdörfer/Casper 2018, 38)
In consequence, in many educational settings concerning Economics, students hardly get a chance to engage in meaningful activity and produce something to be proud of. This way, students’ pragmatic transformational skills cannot prosper. Instead of competences for sustainable development they habitualize a narrow economistic mindset.
We approached these challenges as a cross-professional design-based research project (DBR Collective 2003; Reinmann 2005) in a team of Economics educators and teacher trainers. Our guiding question was:
“How can a Higher Education setting for Economics
- be developed
- and evaluated,
in order to offer students a
- and multi-perspective
As a theoretical framework, we refer to the “Hamburg Model of Teaching Practice and Learning Practice (HMLP)” (presented at last year’s ECER by Augsdörfer/Casper 2018; cf. Tramm/Casper 2018). It guides the development, analysis and evaluation of the prototype Higher Education setting “Project Pathumwan” (PP), carried out in 2018 at Chulalongkorn University.
Project Pathumwan was designed to simulate a “media company” in order to develop written communication skills and offer a multi-perspective approach on several economics topics. With the goal of producing a variety of content, three classes with potential for sustainable development were involved:
- Urban Economics,
- Public Economics,
- and Economic Development;
with each student contributing three types of articles:
- book reviews,
- opinion editorials (op-eds),
- and reports.
Via a semi-public online platform, a larger audience was created, along with an atmosphere in which everyone could
- focus on improving their writing with less grade pressure,
- feel comfortable expressing different points of view,
- and become more confident defending a position and responding to critical commentary through respectful dialogue.
Contributing to a collective body of literature also established a sense of teamwork and stimulated a rewarding experience and sense of accomplishment.
The three courses involved in PP placed less emphasis on exams and increased students’ degrees of freedom, based on the understanding that what is retained through education is not what is studied for exams, but rather what students explore on their own. Eventually, with an internationally diverse group of students given the freedom to choose topics, there was a vibrant variety of perspectives, both ideologically and culturally.
Thus, our project constitutes an explicitly international prototype for quality education in Economics. At ECER 2019, we want to present and discuss PP as a case study, analyzed and evaluated via the HMLP and a dedicated survey we developed for this purpose (see “Methods”).
In general, this project follows a design-based research approach (DBR Collective 2003; Reinmann 2005). Based on the design and development of a prototype, in our case Project Pathumwan (PP), new insights on criteria for quality education are identified and generalized. In order to assess the success of the prototype, a new evaluation instrument was developed. In its action-oriented design, PP strongly refers to the Hamburg Model of Teaching Practice and Learning Practice (HMLP). However, no existing evaluation instrument is fully in line with the pedagogical framework of the HMLP. Some established measures show a certain degree of compatibility (e. g. Kirkpatrick’s “Four Levels”, 2006) but these neither meet the theoretical roots nor the emancipatory ambitions of the HMLP. Thus, a genuine short survey with 25 items was developed. It covers the five core concepts of the HMLP, "Teaching Practice", "Learning Practice", "(Internal) Learning Effect", “External Effects” and “Feedback”. For each concept, four Likert-scale items were derived from the theoretical framework, with the standard Likert options “strongly disagree”, “disagree”, “neutral”, “agree”, “strongly agree”. A fifth open-text question was added for qualitative feedback for each concept. As an example, here are the items for the concept "(Internal) Learning Effect": • “I was able to follow individual interests and learning goals.” • “I am now more skilled than I was before.” • “The class challenged me to rethink some of my attitudes.” • “I gathered new knowledge, i. e. new concepts and contexts.” • “Please conclude on your personal learning effect:” In analysis, means are calculated for each item. Averages are calculated for each concept group and for the course total. In the teacher/lecturer report card, results which are lower than the total average minus one standard deviation (SD) are highlighted as “Improve?”s, while results higher than average plus one SD are highlighted as “Great!”s. That way, teachers get focused feedback relative to their individual norm, with selected areas of both best practice and improvement opportunities. For every item, suggestions for reflection are formulated, posing guiding questions and/or pointing to literature recommendations.
The HMLP survey was successfully developed in English and German and piloted with Project Pathumwan at Chulalongkorn University (20 responses, English, online version) and later in several courses at Universität Hamburg (56 responses, German, paper version). Until ECER 2019, we aim to generate at least twice the data for test development. E. g., factor analysis will be carried out as soon as the necessary amount of data is available. With the given data, Cronbach’s Alpha for the five concepts was calculated and indicates sufficient internal consistency. Although the values for the English version were lower than for the German version, we attribute this to sample size limitation and expect better values for a larger sample. Sample teachers’ responses so far indicate a high usability and “catalytic validity” (Cohen et al. 2007, 139; Winter 2010, § 16): The report card’s concise highlights and suggestions induce change. It proves to be an eligible instrument for reflecting and promoting quality education. Considering the effects on learners of Project Pathumwan as a prototype, the survey indicates a great success. Its “Total Agreement Score” is the highest of the surveyed courses yet (87.4/100). Qualitative responses underline that the intentions were met, especially regarding multi-perspective and critical approaches to Economics. Eventually, the “Great!”s and “Improve?”s for PP highlight its potential very well. For example, an outstanding agreement was achieved for “Everything I produced in the course of this class is or was valuable to me in some way.”, whereas a weaker (but still positive) point was “In exams/tests, I was able to show what I learned.” This marks a To Do for further development, but also supports one of our strongest beliefs as educators: Meaningful student products are far better representations of their learning progress than exams relying on the external incentive of grades.
Augsdörfer, A./Casper, M. (2018). Closing the theory-practice gap: Employing authentic video-taped lessons in vocational teacher education. In C. Nägele & B. E. Stalder (Eds.), Trends in vocational education and training research. Proceedings of the European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), Vocational Education and Training Network (VETNET) (pp. 33–43). https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1319622 Benton, M. H./Casper, M./Karner, S./Tafner, G. (2016): Materialism, Subjective Happiness and Epistemic Beliefs of Students of Economics in Hamburg, Graz and Bangkok: A Cross Cultural Study and Discussion Regarding Economics Education. In: bwp@ Berufs- und Wirt-schaftspädagogik – online, Ausgabe 35, 1-20. Online: http://www.bwpat.de/ausgabe35/ benton_etal_bwpat35.pdf (13.12.2018). Chernomas, R./Hudson, I. (2017): The profit doctrine. Economists of the neoliberal era. London. Cohen, L./Manion, L./Morrison, K. (2007): Research methods in education. London/New York. Design-based Research Collective (2003): Design-based research: An emerging paradigm for educational inquiry. Educational Researcher 32(1), 5–8. Retrieved from http://www.designbasedresearch.org/reppubs/DBRC2003.pdf Kirkpatrick, D. L./Kirkpatrick, J. D. (2010): Evaluating training programs. The four levels. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler. Reinmann, G. (2005). Innovation ohne Forschung? Ein Plädoyer für den Design-Based Research-Ansatz in der Lehr-Lernforschung. Unterrichtswissenschaft, 33(1), 52–69. Tramm, T./Casper, M. (2018). Lernfeldübergreifende Kompetenzdimensionen: Ein gemeinsamer Gegenstand subjektorientierter curricularer Theorie und Praxis“. In T. Tramm, M. Casper, & T. Schlömer (Eds.), Didaktik der beruflichen Bildung (pp. 89–113). Bielefeld: Bertelsmann. United Nations (2019): www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/education/ (29.01.2019) Winter, R. (2010): Ein Plädoyer für kritische Perspektiven in der qualitativen Forschung. In: Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research 12 (1), Art. 7. Online: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs110171 (04.01.2019)
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