22 SES 12 C, Teaching and Learning: Didactics and Motivations
The purpose of higher education is to educate academic professionals who are prominent experts in their fields and disciplines. In recent research, expertise is seen as relational (Edwards 2010) referring to the capacity to work with other practitioners in transdisciplinary contexts that are often multilingual, multicultural and multimodal and in constant transition. The changing perspectives on expertise and working life have profound implications for how the role of language is conceived. In this light, expertise appears as a capacity to operate and manoeuvre across different literate spheres and languages and across different boundaries of working modes, audiences and disciplines. However, research has been slow to transform pedagogies of academic literacy; development of pedagogies need more risk taking, experimentation and creativity (Kafle & Canagarajah 2015).
In this presentation, we will demonstrate and discuss a university-wide development of language and communication courses in which the earlier individual language courses have been re-designed into a unified and continuous multilingual structure. The new structure is co-designed by language and communication teachers in cooperation with both department staff and students. In order to support the students on time and from the start of their studies, the new structure runs alongside the Bachelor level major subject studies of all university students with a more crystallised focus on discipline-specific texts, academic discourses and working modes. The development undertaking is quite substantial as there are 6 faculties, 30 Bachelor degree programmes and about 6000 students involved in the process annually. The development of these studies offer an opportunity to examine the intersections of language practices across disciplines and languages, expertise, and higher education pedagogy.
To support the development work, we have worked together with educational researchers to understand the way in which expertise is developed, how it can be examined and how the concept can be integrated into our multilingual competence development process. As impact and effectiveness are important aspects of any larger curriculum change, a set of questionnaires have been devised to be used for data collection throughout the 3 year structure. Focus group interviews and teacher observations complement the questionnaire data.
First, we present our development framework that builds on theories of expertise, pedagogical design and educational change. The framework aims at supporting the development of future fit and dynamic learning and teaching environments where learners and teachers have an active role as co-designers. Second, we present the methodological design that consists of both qualitative and quantitative approaches (Virtanen & Tynjälä 2018) and aims at providing insights into the pedagogical impact of the redesigned language and communication courses. Finally, we will conclude with some preliminary findings from the on-going research and observations of the change process in the light of the theoretical framework.
In the Nordic countries, the language policies and language education in higher education have been organised in different ways, with implications for the training of future experts in multilingual societies (Saarinen & Taalas 2017). These Nordic policies and the pedagogical development contribute to the European level discussion on HE curriculum design in relation to the discussion of language as a key resource of academic expertise and its implications for the foundation of a multilingual Europe.
Pre- and post-questionnaires for the three year Bachelor degree programme studies along with end of first and second year questionnaires (four data collection points altogether). Focus group interviews of students to ensure sense making of both the goals of the re-structured curriculum and the questionnaire questions. Teacher observations throughout the three years.
The research informs the pedagogical and content planning of the language and communication courses. The data analysis will highlight the areas of impact and learning progress of the new structure while also helping teachers to modify the course continuum almost in real time. Typically course feedback or research in the classroom afford reflection at the end of a course, this research design supports proactive reflection for modifications and changes in the plan.
Edwards, A. (2010). Being an expert professional practitioner: the relational turn in expertise. Dordrecht: Springer. Kafle, M. & Canagarajah, S. (2015). Multiliteracies, Pedagogies, and Academic Literacy. In Wayne Wright, Sovicheth Boun, and Ofelia Garcia (Eds.), The Handbook of Bilingual and Multilingual Education. Malden: Wiley. 241-252. Saarinen, T. & Taalas, P. (2017). Nordic language policies for higher education and their multi-layered motivations. Higher Education, 73 (4), 597-612. Virtanen, A. & Tynjälä, P. (2018). Factors explaining the learning of generic skills: a study of university students’ experiences. Teaching in Higher Education. DOI: 10.1080/13562517.2018.1515195
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