30 SES 08 A, Curriculum innovation and analysis in ESE
Addressing sustainability challenges calls for individuals capable of transdisciplinary collaboration to synthesize creative approaches, and who are prepared to take action toward more sustainable solutions (Wiek, Withycombe et Redman 2011). Universities play a critical role in fostering these future change agents (Cortese, 2003) making it imperative to transform university sustainability curriculum toward this goal (Sterling, 2001). A competence-oriented framework (as opposed to traditional, disciplinary course objectives and performance metrics) may be better suited to this end (Barth, 2015; Barth et al., 2007; Wiek et al., 2011). The experience based learning (EBL) perspective of learning as a whole-person, adaptive process (Kolb and Kolb, 2012) shows promise as an approach to contribute to competence development. This research poses the following question: In how far does early engagement in EBL contribute to competency development within a graduate sustainability program?
Wiek et al. (2011) surveyed existing competence frameworks and synthesized a model which attributes six key competencies to the overall ability to effectively lead sustainability change. These competencies (systems thinking, anticipatory, normative, strategic, interpersonal, and problem solving) cross disciplinary boundaries and address how students approach problems rather than outlining specific, procedural criteria which may not be appropriate for every context. Curricula which foster these competencies may help prepare heterogeneous groups of students to work toward the common goal of sustainability transformation (Wiek et al., 2015).
EBL as practice focuses on the methodology and process of learning by positing that the learner is in constant dialogue with themselves and the world around them (Kolb and Kolb, 2012, 2017). The learner moves continuously in a cycle of identifying their own knowledge and perceptions, comparing this with the experiences and information at hand, and adapting (Caniglia et al., 2016; Kolb and Kolb, 2012). As such, EBL may offer an effective way to foster competence development within the context of sustainability curriculum. Caniglia et al. (2016) developed and implemented an EBL framework specifically to this end. Other programs also exist which aim to foster competence development through EBL approaches. These programs are already taking steps to try to meet the needs of students studying sustainability.
This comparative case study focuses on the first semester of three cohorts of sustainability graduate students with attention to the teaching and learning processes and environments in order to learn how early participation in an EBL unit influences students’ perceived competence development. The three cases were selected for specific curricular comparison points. This study took place at Arizona State University (ASU) in the U.S. and Leuphana University Lüneburg (LUL) in Germany. Both claim to be the first universities to feature sustainability programs in their respective countries. The ASU Sustainability M.A./M.S. was developed with the key competencies as an underlying framework. All first semester courses are required, and the program features EBL elements throughout the semester at the discretion of the instructors. The LUL Sustainability M.Sc. was developed independent from the key competency framework and without an explicit EBL element. The first semester consists mainly of a selection of required electives with one required course. The Global Sustainability Science (GSS) program is a collaboration between ASU and LUL. Approximately one third of the first semester courses at LUL were designed explicitly around the key competencies with one class built around the EBL framework by Caniglia et al. (2016). The other four classes are shared with the rest of the LUL sustainability graduate students. The goal of this research is to use the parallels and divergences of these three programs to extract meaningful insights about the role of EBL in student competence development.
To track both the learning process and outcomes, we conducted a comparative case study (Yin, 2009) at Leuphana University Lüneburg and Arizona State University. The thick-data contextual information combined with specific, participant-driven data in two locations and three curricular contexts make this study particularly interesting. The data gathered is part of a larger, two-year longitudinal study. Data collection Data was collected from August 2017 through May 2018 using a qualitative approach. Initial interviews were conducted with all students who volunteered (minimum six per cohort) to better inform the researcher on student goals, attitudes, and motivation. In-vivo observations of all required courses and select electives and document analysis of university websites, marketing materials, program descriptions, and course syllabi where available inform the context for each case, as do interviews with curriculum developers and program coordinators. Interviews were conducted with the instructors of all required courses on the course structure, expectations, placement in curriculum, and instructor impressions of student performance. At the end of each semester focus groups of four to eight participants were conducted with each cohort of students. At least three students per cohort were chosen through a combination of targeted selection and student volunteering to participate in reflective interviews using the key competencies (Wiek et al., 2011) as a framework at the beginning of the following semester. Based on student data, additional interviews were conducted with course instructors following the focus groups and reflective interviews. Data analysis The focus groups, reflective interviews, and select instructor interviews were analyzed using a grounded theory based approach (Corbin and Strauss, 2008) using MAXQDA. Analysis focused on the teaching and learning process and student-perceived and reported outcomes. These included description of activities, interactions, student and instructor attitudes and behavior, and consequences. The data was first approached inductively in the initial and axial coding phases, after which the emergent themes were compared with existing theories for potential insight.
Learning is a complex process in which all aspects of student and instructor experience interact. Implementing EBL asks the instructor to balance the role of guiding and supporting the students with the duty of also relinquishing control and making space for the students to synthesize meaning through reflection and interaction. We found that this process often leads to outward expressions of frustration at seemingly opaque goals, lack of concrete truths, and the discomfort associated with learning to recognize and negotiate varied frames of reference. However, operating within these grey zones appears to foster the key competencies students require to facilitate interaction with diverse ontologies and interpretations of sustainability work later in their studies. From a curricular standpoint, we found time and attention play a vital role in this process. Instructor investment on course preparation and design influences student satisfaction in individual courses, but the learning process extends beyond the designated instructional period. When courses with heterogeneous ontological and theoretical approaches to sustainability and learning compete for students’ time and attention, the reflective cycle does not have space for full realization. Equally important to the reflective cycle is the opportunity for students to exchange. This too is a complex process requiring some instructional and curricular flexibility. We found student discussion and reflection expands as within-cohort familiarity grows, but this within-cohort habitus inhibits awareness of new knowledge until they have the opportunity for external interaction. Implementing EBL in sustainability curricula offers institutional and instructional challenges. Additional preparation and delivery requirements on instructors, as well as the institutional support necessary to design a program curriculum which supports the learning cycle may act as barriers to widespread curricular change. However, the only systemic change which requires no effort is entropy.
References Barth, M. (2015), Implementing sustainability in higher education: Learning in an age of transformation, Routledge studies in sustainable development, Routledge, London, New York. Barth, M., Godemann, J., Rieckmann, M. and Stoltenberg, U. (2007), “Developing key competencies for sustainable development in higher education”, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 416–430. Caniglia, G., John, B., Kohler, M., Bellina, L., Wiek, A., Rojas, C., Laubichler, M.D. and Lang, D. (2016), “An experience-based learning framework”, International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 17 No. 6, pp. 827–852. Corbin, J.M. and Strauss, A.L. (Eds.) (2008), Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory, 3. ed., Sage Publ, Los Angeles, Calif. Cortese, A.D. (2003), “The Critical Role of Higher Education in Creating a Sustainable Future”, Planning for Higher Education, March-May, pp. 15–22. Kolb, A.Y. and Kolb, D.A. (2012), “Experiential Learning Theory”, in Seel, N.M. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the sciences of learning, Springer reference, Springer, New York, pp. 1215–1219. Kolb, A.Y. and Kolb, D.A. (2017), “Experiential Learning Theory as a Guide for Experiential Educators in Higher Education”, ELTHE: A JOurnal for Engaged Educators, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 7–44. Lotz-Sisitka, H., Wals, A. E. J., Kronlid, D., & McGarry, D. (2015). Transformative, transgressive social learning: Rethinking higher education pedagogy in times of systemic global dysfunction. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 16, 73–80. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2015.07.018 Sterling, S.R. (2001), Sustainable education: Re-visioning learning and change, Schumacher briefing, no. 6, Green Books for the Schumacher Society, Totnes. Wiek, A., Bernstein, M.J., Foley, R.W., Cohen, M., Forrest, N., Kuzdas, C., Kay, B. and Keeler, L.W. (2015), “Operationalising competencies in higher education for sustainable development”, in Barth, M., Michelsen, G., Rieckmann, M. and Thomas, I. (Eds.), Handbook of Higher Education for Sustainable Development, Routledge, London, pp. 241–260. Wiek, A., Withycombe, L. and Redman, C.L. (2011), “Key competencies in sustainability. A reference framework for academic program development”, Sustainability Science, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 203–218. Yin, R.K. (2009), Case study research: Design and methods / Robert K. Yin, Applied social research methods, Vol. 5, 4th ed., SAGE, London.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
Network 8. Research on Health Education
Network 9. Assessment, Evaluation, Testing and Measurement
Network 10. Teacher Education Research
Network 11. Educational Effectiveness and Quality Assurance
Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
Network 13. Philosophy of Education
Network 14. Communities, Families and Schooling in Educational Research
Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
Network 16. ICT in Education and Training
Network 17. Histories of Education
Network 18. Research in Sport Pedagogy
Network 19. Ethnography
Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
Network 22. Research in Higher Education
Network 23. Policy Studies and Politics of Education
Network 24. Mathematics Education Research
Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
Network 27. Didactics – Learning and Teaching
The programme is updated regularly (each day in the morning)
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.