22 SES 05 A, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
Adults may act in a role of a dependent student when they interpret a situation as a study context: they merely sit and wait for instructions and do what they are told to (Knowles, 1980; Shor, 1996). In these situations students’ own responsibility for studying and learning decreases and sometimes even disappears when they interpret the study situation as hierarchical with the controlling authority resting in the hands of the instructor (Mäensivu et al., 2013). One of the solutions to this problem is organizing learning to take place in peer groups where the instructors do not have all the control and authority. In peer group work, for example in cooperative, collaborative, project-based and problem-based learning, the role of the teacher changes from the owner and transferer of the knowledge to the facilitator of the group working and learning together (Hmelo-Silver, 2004; Helle et al., 2006; McInnerney & Roberts, 2004; Bruffee, 1999; Veenman et al., 2002). Nevertheless these forms of group study are typically applied to only some higher education study courses while most of the studies consist of teacher-led situations.
The Critical Integrative Teacher Education (CITE) programme has been developed to tackle this problem. CITE is an alternative pathway for one group students studying to become primary school teachers at the University of Jyväskylä Department of Teacher Education (see more Nikkola et al., 2008) and one of CITEs core elements is collaborative group work: thirteen students study together in a group for the first two years of their teacher studies. During that time the students organize their peer group work by themselves. They have tasks assigned by the instructors, but they also have an opportunity to use their study time for the group’s own learning needs.
The aim of the case study was to explore the ways student teachers in CITE experience this collaborative study environment which can be examined using Goffman’s (1986) concept of frame. According to Goffman the individual does not himself define a social situation, but the definition already exists – as some kind of frame. For example the student endeavours, often unconsciously, to find appropriate definitions for study situations by answering the question ”What is it that’s going on here?”. When the answer is clear they can apply it in action and in that way frames organize experiences. (Goffman, 1986.)
The research questions of this case study were:
- What kinds of frames organize student experiences in the peer group meetings?
- In what ways do these frames diverge from the frames of teacher-led study situations?
Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology 3, 77–101. Bruffee, K. A. (1999). Collaborative learning: higher education, interdependence, and the authority of knowledge. Baltimore, Md: John Hopkins University Press. Goffman, E. (1986). Frame analysis. An essay on the organization of experience. Boston: Northeastern University Press. Helle, L., Tynjälä, P & Olkinuora E. (2006). Project-based learning in post-secondary education – theory, practice and rubber sling shots. Higher Education, Vol. 51, No. 2, pp. 287-314. Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (2004). Problem-based learning: What and how do students learn? Educational Psychology Review, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 235-266. Knowles, M. (1980). The modern practice of adult education. From pedagogy to andragogy. Chicago: Follet Publishing Company. McInnerney, J. M. & Roberts, T. S. (2004). Collaborative or cooperative learning. In T. S. Roberts (eds.) Online collaborative learning: theory and practice. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing, 203-214. Mäensivu, M., Nikkola, T. & Moilanen, P. (2013). Students constructing the curriculum – an experiment to increase responsibility. In C. Nygaard, N. Courtney & P. Bartholomew (eds.) Quality Enhancement of University Teaching and Learning. Oxfordshire: Libri Publishing Nikkola, T., Räihä, P., Moilanen, P., Rautiainen, M. & Saukkonen, S. (2008). Towards a deeper understanding of learning in teacher education. In C. Nygaard & C. Holtham (eds.) Understanding learning-centered higher education, 251–263. Shor, I. (1996). When students have power. Negotiating authority in a critical pedagogy. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Veenman, S., van Benthum, N., Bootsma, D., van Dieren, J. & van der Kemp, N. (2002). Cooperative learning and teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education 18, 87–103.
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