22 SES 03 D, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
Parallel Paper Session
The purpose of this paper is to highlight and discuss the impact of culture as a powerful outline for how to think, feel and act as well as a web of conceptions and ideals. Norms and routine acts are taken for granted and guide individuals as well as the organisation and thereby save energy and facilitate interaction and communication, as people “understand” each other without having to make things explicit and without arguments. Culture is enacted through processes of normalization and subjectification, processes where individuals create themselves as distinct kinds of subjects through self-perception and signals from significant others (Alvesson, 2001). People within an organisation are encouraged to define themselves as the kind of people who are suited for the organisation and “chosen” for this kind of tasks. This definition produces a standard to which subjects commit themselves.
The Swedish government has commissioned the “Teknikdelegationen” (The Delegation of Swedish Engineering) to map all initiatives aiming at increasing the interest in science and technology among children and young adults, with a focus on females. The purpose is to prevent a gap between supply and demand among engineers when many baby boomers retire. In 2009 a report was published where the Swedish engineering educations in Electrical engineering and Mechanical engineering were monitored by the Association of Swedish Engineering Industries ( Teknikföretagen, 2009). One conclusion in the report is that there are different opinions on what the “core content” of a Master of Science in Engineering should be. The employers focus on “ solid and traditional engineering knowledge and competences” while academics focus more on disciplinary and generic competences. One conclusion is that teaching and content should be more aligned with work-life demands, i.e. more project based and work based learning activities and it should be easier for students and employers to understand what a degree means and what can be expected from a graduate student.
During a period of ten years, 1998 - 2007, efforts were made to meet these requirements within the study program of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering in Linkoping University. Curricular changes were made, marketing and branding efforts were made as well as the introduction of surveys and programmes aiming at monitoring the experiences of the students (Edvardsson Stiwne & Jungert, 2010). Despite these efforts, ther difficulties in attracting and keeping students, especially females, remained. In this paper we use interview data from a longitudinal study we conducted with four cohorts of students, in this programme, between 1998 - 2007 with the purpose to highlight the issue of educational culture in realtion to course/programme design and curricular change (Lindblom-Ylänne, 2003; Meyer, 1991; Vermunt & Verloop, 1999).
Research questions are:
• Students entering a study program have some expectations of what studying is and what the study environment will demand from and offer them. How can this be conceptualised sithin a theoretickal framework of educaitonal culture and academic tradition?
• How do the students experience the design of the programme in relation to their course experiences?
• Within the context of this study program, the Y-program, is there an alignment or a dissonance between the approaches to learning and studying expressed by the students and the approaches to teaching and learning, as expressed in the curriculum?
Alvesson, M. “Knowledge work: Ambiguity, image and identity”. Human Relations, Vol 54, 2001, pp 863-886. Edvardsson Stiwne, E. & Jungert, T. “ Engineering students´experiences of transition from study to work” Journal of Education and Work, Vol 23, 2010, pp 417-437. Lindblom-Ylänne, S. Broadening an understanding of the phenomenon of dissonance., 2003. Studies in Higher Education, 28(1): 63-77. Meyer, J. H. F. (1991). Study orchestration: the manifestation, interpretation and consequences of contextualised approaches to studying, 1991. Higher Education, 22:297- 316. Söndergaard, D.M. ”Tegnet på kroppen”. Oslo, 1996 Teknikföretagen. “Ingenjören utbildad för yrkeslivet? En underöskning av ingenjörsutbildningen”. Rapport från Teknikföretagen, 2009. http://www.teknikforetagen.se/hem/Publicerat/Publikationer/Ingenjoren---utbildad-for-yrkeslivet/ Ulrichsen, L. The implied student, 2009. Studies in Higher Education, vol 34:5, pp. 517-532. Vermunt, J. D. & Verloop, N. (1999). Congruence and friction between learning and teaching, 1999. Learning and Instruction, 9:257-280.
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