32 SES 02 A, Universities as Learning Organizations
Organizations are continuously searching for new ways of working to better address emerging challenges and to align with current norms and expectations formed by emerging societal needs. In public sector, organizational work is seen as an arena for solving societal issues in a democratic and inclusive way. Within universities, the student role, the lecturer role and the educational context is also changing. While the relation between lecturers and students traditionally has been characterized by differences in power balance and limited student influence on how the study programs are organized and conducted, students of today expect to be heard and included to much larger extent. The expected student involvement ranges from the designing of various courses to representation in the strategy development of higher education organizations. Hence, they are expected to be involved as co-creators and co-producers in the development and conducting of higher education.
In the public sector, the need for going from a New Public Management logic to a New Public Governance logic, is emphasized. This implies that users and citizens go from being service receivers to being active co-producers that should be included into the service development and service production. However, moving from a service-provider-and-receiver relation to a co-creation/production relation has proved to be challenging (Vanleene et al, 2018; Torfing, 2016, Freire & Sangiorgi, 2010). In addition, we also see that the co-creation and co-production focus is translated into a market logic, using servitication and customer value as central input for developing and delivering services (Dollinger et al, 2018).
Higher education organizations are also part of this regime shift, having become increasingly market oriented, focusing on student attraction, application numbers and university rankings. In order to make universities attractive and relevant for societal needs and demands characterized by high complexity and specialization, new forms of educations are offered. Students need to learn how to work across disciplines, tasks and teams, adjust to changing circumstances. This demands co-creating and co-producing in and of curriculum, as expressed by Taylor & Bovill (2018) rather than a value-in-use approach (Dollinger et al, 2018) where the student participation is confined to evaluating courses at certain points during the course duration.
In this paper, we propose that also administrative routines and overriding organization strategies work as meaningful gestures, contributing to shape the expectations to what it implies to be a co-creating/producing student. However, these routines, aims and strategies can contradict one another, sending mixed messages to both faculty and to students about expectations participants can have to one another as students, lecturers and administrative staff.
The aim of this paper is to explore how the administrative systems, student expectations and lecturers´ aspirations, interests and abilities support and contradict one another in the efforts in developing universities as arenas for co-creation and co-production of knowledge, competence and innovation.
The research question is: How can rules, routines and work standards in higher education, potentially and practically challenge the ability to foster a problem based and co-productive education regime?
The exploration of this question is embedded in a performative process understanding (Cloutier and Langley, 2020, Simson et al, 2018, Buchan & Simpson, 2020) where we see meaning making as an ongoing process of making sense of reality. Routines, measurement tools and procedures can come to get different meanings than intended, leading to contra-productive results. So can also new ways of teaching and learning. Consequently, there is no “best practice” that fits any situation. We need to explore what meaning different solutions come to have in the context, and thus aim for continuously improving the situation.
The proposed paper is work under planning. Our approach is abductive, indicating that we have various issues that are puzzling us, but where we are still unsure about how to define the situation and the challenge. Inspired by John Dewey´s (1938) understanding of inquiry, we frame the problem in order to make an in-determinate situation, (temporally) determinate, and thus being able to explore whether this framing actually makes sense. Thus, our aim is not to reach a unified answer to our question, but just-as-much to explore whether our framing of the problem is supported, and how we can re-frame it to dig deeper into the theme. Data will be collected through document study of university strategies and steering documents, as well as through interviews with students, student organizations, lecturers and quality advisers. The purpose is to get diverse perspectives on how quality in education and how students, lecturers and administration work with planning, conducting and measuring courses to meet the expectations for more problem based and practice-oriented education, as well as more student involvement The semi-structured interviews will be conducted with the aim of following up on un-expected aspects and re-interpretations of the situations in order to get a better understanding of what the problem is. The document analysis and interviews will be analyzed through our initial categories, and categories that emerge from the material itself both immediately and through interpretations across interviews and documents. Both authors are situated in the context, as part of a university faculty. Hence, we cannot take an outside position, but are both shaped by, and shaping the situation we are studying. This means that we must be observant on how power can play a part in interviews and field conversations.
Students expect to be represented in both the overarching plans and strategies for how the universities develop, and at micro-level also expect to have influence on the development of curriculum and the teaching methods. However, the expectations to how this might happen, might be more ambiguous. We expect that both students and lecturers have little experience and training in conducting student courses as co-creating/production activities. Procedures for how to plan, publish and make alterations to course plans might also contradict the ability to co-create in education. The time span of a student course is typically one term, and where the frames for the course, the content, curriculum and evaluation form are usually decided months before the course starts. Good quality in a course is measured up against the pre-defined learning goals, knowledge goals and general knowledge, thus resulting in that emergence of alternative understandings, aspirations and learning methods are not encouraged. Focus on measuring student satisfaction, goal achievements compared to pre-set indicators and quality work directly connected to course and program scores, can lead to more instrumental ways of planning and conducting courses and programs. Hence, the leeway for acting upon student initiatives and upcoming possibilities and realizations, becomes narrow. Co-creation in both how courses are designed and conducted, but also as a method for working with themes across disciplines, courses and levels, should be encouraged. Still, for students that want to study at their own pace, where and when it suits their schedule, co-creation can appear as less attractive. It can also make it more complicated to coordinate and conduct courses. Consequently, both faculty and students can have an interest in keeping student involvement in course development to a minimum.
Buchan, L., & Simpson, B. (2020). Projects-as-practice: A Deweyan perspective. Project Management Journal, 51(1), 38-48. Cloutier, C., & Langley, A. (2020). What makes a process theoretical contribution? Organization Theory, 1(1), 2631787720902473. Díaz-Méndez, M., & Gummesson, E. (2012). Value co-creation and university teaching quality: Consequences for the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). Journal of Service Management, 23(4), 571-592. Dewey, J. (1938). The pattern of inquiry. In Hickman, L. & Alexander, T. M. (1998) The Essential Dewey, 2, 169-179. Indiana University Press. Dollinger, M., Lodge, J., & Coates, H. (2018). Co-creation in higher education: Towards a conceptual model. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 28(2), 210-231. Elkjaer, B. (2004). Organizational learning: the ‘third way’. Management learning, 35(4), 419-434. Elkjaer, B., & Simpson, B. (2011). Pragmatism: A lived and living philosophy. What can it offer to contemporary organization theory? In Philosophy and organization theory. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Freire, K., & Sangiorgi, D. (2010). Service design and healthcare innovation: From consumption to co-production to co-creation. In Service Design and Service Innovation conference (pp. 39-50). Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings. Lorino, P. (2018). Pragmatism and organization studies. Oxford University Press. Mead, G. H. (1932). The philosophy of the present. Philpapers.org. Simpson, B., Buchan, L., & Sillince, J. (2018). The performativity of leadership talk. Leadership, 14(6), 644-661.Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Taylor, C. A., & Bovill, C. (2018). Towards an ecology of participation: Process philosophy and co-creation of higher education curricula. European Educational Research Journal, 17(1), 112-128.
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