Differing Worldviews in Higher Education: Two Scholars Argue Cooperatively About Justice Education

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The many benefits of experiential education make the expenditures associated with experiential education highly cost-effective. However, there are many ways to incorporate more modest experiential assignments with less travel or time-intensive commitments. Time and Logistics. Organizing students into fieldwork, internships, study abroad, or community engagement projects can present many logistical difficulties around travel and other tasks of coordination and planning that consume significant amounts of time, a commodity that is in short supply for most educators.

It, therefore, is important to rely on campus offices and programs with staff who support this work, such as community service, internship, or study abroad units. For the work that is unavoidably that of the instructor, it is imperative to conduct it as efficiently as possible 1 by starting slowly and not developing any experiential projects that may demand more than you or your students are ready to give, 2 by planning in advance so as not to create stresses during the busiest times mid-semester, 3 by developing clear goals and work schedules for students and possible partners off campus, 4 by training and trusting your students, 5 by using partnerships or projects in multiple courses so as to avoid the time necessary to build trust and channels of communication, and 6 by using your local Center for Teaching and Learning to help troubleshoot any foreseen difficulties.

Ethical Preparation. If students and faculty are not engaged in ethical discussions and critical reflection, we have the potential, at the least, to have limited positive impacts on and reciprocity with the organizations and communities with whom we work. At most, we have the potential to treat partners in exploitative, unjust, or harmful ways. It is therefore imperative to adhere to basic ethical guidelines at your institution such as Institutional Review Board guidelines for research , and more, to develop a curriculum with campus leaders and community stakeholders to discuss all expectations and ethical concerns regarding experiential projects.

Ethical challenges present exceptional moments for all stakeholders in a project to learn about one another and to engage in ethical critique, civic education, and moral leadership development around issues relevant in various experiential settings. However, if the ethical challenges of a partnership or project are insurmountable and the risks of harm are therefore high, it would be better to abandon it in favor of another.

With these learning goals focused on lived history and especially moral dimensions of warfare, it has been imperative to help students understand the complex experiential realities and ethical quandaries of World War II. While Michael knows many of this generation that the students can interview, students are able to select their own interview subjects, including family, if they choose.

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He prepares them with a review of oral history traditions in the discipline, their methods, and interviewing techniques, with practice. The results are that students cite this as their favorite assignment of the course and one of the most transformative learning experiences they have at Vanderbilt, meeting and learning from the WWII generation, particularly veterans, about the many profound and subtle historical elements of the war.

Michael notes that this informs student curiosity and understanding throughout the course, prompting them to engage in moral problems and debates in a more informed and complex manner, one that frequently challenges and improves his own scholarship in the field. The dialogue with the students inside the university feeds the published work that then reaches out to the world beyond the university; and then that outer world in turn comes back and deepens the conversation going forward in the classroom.

Through immersive and experiential learning, students had the opportunity to learn in highly personalized, real-world, and self-reflexive contexts, better supporting the development of critical thinking, skills of inquiry, and sociological modes of analysis. One may not think of mathematics when one thinks of experiential learning, however, from statistics to calculus, from senior capstones to classes for non-majors, there are courses that have been made more engaging through experiential learning.

In advanced courses for majors e. Using internally collected data as well as data provided by the National Survey of Student Engagement NSSE on NGCSU, students used statistical methods to test various hypotheses about factors affecting student motivation for learning and the effectiveness of first-year orientation programs.

All students found data sets less challenging, learned valuable statistics, and were more engaged in the learning process It is an intermediate-level seminar-sized course that has the twin purpose of introducing engineering majors to current research practices in biomedical engineering and of providing valuable soft skills such as resume and interview preparation.

Rather than merely have students learn these skills via in-class exercises, they decided that it would be more meaningful and educational for students to engage in experiential and service learning projects. Students practiced using, calibrating, and repairing various biomedical instruments from electrosurgical units to electrocardiograms before visiting community medical centers in Guatemala City, Guatemala to repair and to write service manuals for their donated equipment. The second was La Hospital de Juan Pablo II, a pediatric hospital that offers a wider range of care, where students repair anything from incubators to microscopes, patient monitors to pulse oximeters.

Lastly, they visited Hospital Nacional Pedro de Bethancourt and Obras Sociales del Hermano Pedro where students tested and repaired many different kinds of equipment. Students also had the opportunity to meet and discuss engineering research with Guatemalan students in a student exchange at the Universidad del Valle. Not only did these efforts help the medical centers to operate effectively, but it helped students to gain valuable engineering experience in support of medical professionals, something that gave the course greater meaning and helped support student career development.

Through these examples, one can see that experiential learning projects may vary in size and complexity. They may involve small projects, like short oral history papers or reflections on fieldwork, or they may entail semester- or year-long study abroad, or community research projects with multiple component assignments and intensive engagement outside the classroom. The appropriate size and scope of experiential learning projects can vary with course goals and type, and even small assignments that are well-organized and well-integrated with course content can have profound impacts.

Online courses can incorporate experiential learning, but this involves both challenges and opportunities. While online courses, by definition, occur outside the classroom, they typically do not involve immersive real-world experiential learning projects. This is because the normal challenges that beset experiential projects -- particularly logistical difficulties, ethical preparation particularly for relations with community partners , and knowledge of place -- are even more challenging online since faculty cannot organize and support this form of student work in their multiple home communities from a distance.

However, there are principles that would allow creative assignments that enable online students to reap the benefits of immersive learning while minimizing some of these challenges. Student Proposals. To help the instructor support student projects fully, students could write a proposal that offers more information about possible sites, partners, or community-based resources that might be resources in the project, a method for experiential practice, and reflection exercises. This would be a good first step that would permit the instructor to have all of the necessary information to help the student and partner.

Schedule of Work, Communications. Instructors and students would be served by a required schedule of regular communications with any local community partners such as agencies or employers to ensure that the project work is proceeding well and will be completed on time. These communications may involve videoconferencing to allow instructors, students, and partners to meet one another virtually, build trust, and clearly define the learning and community development objectives.

Modest Creative Projects. Experiential learning at a distance may be more logistically manageable and less onerous for students, even if somewhat less impactful, when it entails simple models of observation and reflection. Asking students to choose a local site in which to observe and reflect upon some phenomenon -- geological, ecological, social, historical, etcetera -- may be a particularly low-intensity but high impact way of incorporating experiential learning into online courses.

If these observations and reflections can happen repeatedly over time with periodic feedback from the instructor e. For this to most impactful and meaningful, students must be equipped with observation guides with methods and interpretive principles, as well as instructions on thorough, critical reflection through disciplinary theories. Reflection via Discussion. In any experiential course students cannot learn from their engagement without regular written and dialogic reflection, and these work best when structured by prompts that connect course content rigorously to experiential work.

In online courses, this is challenging because of the social distance between students. However, online discussions that ask students to reflect together on experiential learning are ever more possible in both synchronous discussion-based forums with peers e. For the former, it may be possible for students who happen to live in the same city or region to meet regularly with one another, possibly even with faculty facilitation, and potentially involving group work on a common project, to enhance reflection and collaborative learning opportunities.

Even for asynchronous dialogue, students may find opportunities to share common experiences and extract important lessons when discussion is prompted, organized, and facilitated well. Technological Preparation and Partnerships. To address technical challenges of students or community partners who may not have the appropriate equipment or knowledge for full participation in online forums, there are a couple of solutions. They may help all communications and online course activities to occur more seamlessly, avoiding or repairing malfunctions, helping with technical orientations for students, and troubleshooting.

For community partners who may not have technological capacities, instructors may need to rely on phone communications if not merely more direct student-partner interactions. This is not ideal, but may be necessary for some partnerships and projects. It can be challenging to integrate in-class and out-of-class learning experiences in effective ways. It also can be daunting to evaluate assignments that have non-traditional experiential formats or learning goals.

And it is difficult to encourage students to take ownership over the learning process. While these challenges are significant, they are also opportunities to be more intentional and effective in our teaching if we can attend to a few guiding principles.

Democracy and Education in the United States - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education

Relatedly, it is necessary to create assignments that ask students to synthesize learning outside and inside the classroom through analysis, application, and evaluation. Only through intentional reflection is experiential learning consolidated with readings or in-class learning. Reflective written assignments are ideal for giving students the time and space to consolidate their in-class and out-of-class learning in useful ways Moon For instance, an organizational theory course that asks students to use their internship to analyze their employer and to evaluate the relevance of theory in context.

Evidence of Learning. How might we assess learning if it involves nontraditional learning goals? If we wish to make the learning goals of, for example, citizenship development central to our teaching, then it is important to develop evaluation criteria for these goals and then to assign tasks that evidence those criteria.

Citizenship partly involves the ability to analyze policy and influence decision-makers through public scholarship, so one option may be to assign students to write op-ed articles for a local paper on a selected policy issue. Such an assignment could be evaluated according to traditional criteria for written expression such as thorough analysis, argumentation, and use of evidence, but also it could be evaluated for citizenship skills such as rhetorical methods of persuasion, public accessibility, and collaborative efforts to incorporate community interests, among others.

Non-traditional learning goals of experiential learning projects are merely opportunities for educators to be intentional and goal-focused about what it is we actually want students to know and do, and to be creative in ways to assess their progress. If assignments are to leverage the real-world ambiguities and uncertainties of experiential learning, they should allow students to have some autonomy in structuring the experience and being accountable for its results.

In this way students share in the ownership of the learning, allowing it to become more personal, meaningful, and engaging. Students also share in the successes and failures that experiential learning may present, which enable them to experience more motivation and real-world risk-taking in the pursuit of knowledge Association for Experiential Education Assignments that promote student self-evaluation and reflections on progress towards learning or project goals may be particularly helpful in promoting metacognition and student ownership of the learning process.

Experiential learning outside the classroom has a long and venerable tradition as ancient as learning itself.


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Today, its incorporation into higher education has created more engaging and effective teaching across the disciplines. By supporting the development of college graduates who are more capable, adaptable, and engaged, experiential education, not only can better support the educational and social missions of higher education, but it also can contribute to a more dynamic and informed society.

Making the Most of Fieldwork Learning Experiences. Experiential Learning Inside the Classroom. Building Service-Learning Programs: 10 Essentials. Generator School Network: an online community of members who have discovered how they can change the world through service-learning.

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Return to full list of Notes on Instruction. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy Site Map. Story Details. Editorial Board Guest Reviewers. Give Today Payment Portal. How to Give Grantmaking Give Today. Created opportunities for students to apply course content outside the classroom "Experiential learning" is an effective strategy for helping students deepen understanding of content, understand its utility, and motivate them to learn.

Do This Today After explaining a concept during class, assign students to find a real-world example of the concept or a real-world way to apply the learned concept. Foundations Experiential learning outside the classroom has an infinite number of manifestations that defy easy summary, but we may at least note several categories of experience: service learning or community engagement, community-based education, internships and cooperative education Moore , field work, outdoor education, and international study.

Benefits of Learning Outside the Classroom Experiential learning outside the classroom has many well-documented benefits, for learners, teachers, our educational institutions, and our communities. For learners, the primary benefits are: Motivation. Examples of Experiential Learning History. Student Responsibility and Faculty Planning. For students to engage in experiential learning at sites about which faculty may have limited knowledge or contacts, it is necessary for students to take on more of the responsibility for connecting to places or partners and for planning and executing projects.

To do this, students will need more guidance and clear expectations with regard to time frames, learning goals, permissible partners or sites if any , methods and practices, ethics, and practices of application or reflection. Integration should begin with a holistic course design that incorporates experiential learning into the very fabric of a course. One way to ensure greater integration is to create an experiential project that spans the entire course, with several component assignments that build towards a final project, such as multiple field experiences in a geology course that build towards a final report.

Another is to guarantee that course readings, lectures, assignments, and in-class activities are closely related to experiential activities and reflections Wurdinger Experiential projects with little connection to course content can have limited impact on student learning or communities, and teach students that such moments of learning are not rigorous or important. References and Resources Association for Experiential Education. Denver, CO. Bailey, Brad and Robb Sinn.

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Mathematics Association of America. January 6 th. Bass, Randy. March Baxter Magolda, M. For a leader, the key to successful collaboration is the gradual professional and personal development of her associates by creating opportunities for collaboration and social bonding. Manz and Sims illustrate the central tasks of SuperLeadership as developing the practical skills necessary for successful collaboration and self-leadership.

Briggs , Lester and Kezar , and Preskill and Brookfield suggest offering frequent and fulfilling opportunities for collaboration and discussion. By facilitating faculty dialogue beyond direct task fulfillment or any other departmental demands, leaders can help faculty build a rapport and respectful professional relationships in which they view one another not as competition, but as equal scholar-practitioners with whom they can derive expertise as well as emotional and professional support.

By encouraging professionally engaging discourse among faculty, leaders in higher education can help build a larger collaborative culture that recognizes the value of working with others to make sense of the academic landscape faculty members navigate every day. The key is for leaders to create as many of these opportunities for dialogue and sharing ideas as they can, possibly in a more informal fashion so as to maintain the virtues of a voluntary grassroots leadership group detailed by Briggs and Lester and Kezar but also in a more structured, guided way so as to encourage participation and reduce member attrition.

Preskill and Brookfield offer guidelines and prompts for leaders to help facilitate occasions for narrative sharing and self-critique. These meetings are unstructured and focused on building alliances and simply venting about classes, which are key elements of the lesson study model. Leaders can be the catalyst for these get-togethers, but it is crucial that they are member-led so that faculty can begin to develop self-direction and not feel as if they are being forced to interact with one another.

The Talking Practice Group can serve as a precursor to more a more formal lesson study arrangement, or lesson study-like practices may even emerge organically as faculty members form bonds over common interests or goals. These short questionnaires can be given to students periodically and serve as a means of helping faculty analyze their instruction.

Questions include:. Using questionnaires such as the CIQ could serve as a starting point for faculty members to begin to dissect their instructional and curricular choices with the help of their peers. As previously detailed by Demir et al. The CIQ could follow a class session observed by another faculty member as part of lesson study so the observer would have the context to help the instructor make sense of what the students are expressing.

The ease of the critique could be amplified even more if the faculty members have already built a rapport during informal, leader-facilitated social events like The Talking Practice Group. This cognitive complexity is similar to the social development described by Garvey Berger when she describes the disparate levels of social functioning experienced by members of an organization at all different professional levels and how optimal functioning is marked by empathy, critical reflection, and openness to growth opportunities.

Learning to make sense of the experiences of others, Garvey Berger continues, is crucial in the cultivation of the higher social functioning necessary for effective collaboration. Garvey Berger suggests certain active listening techniques for group members to make the most of narrative sharing as a means of moving toward growth and effective collaboration.

Once the cycle of collaboration and reflection in lesson study becomes common practice, quality leadership and self-direction can bloom at all levels with little more than gentle guidance from top-down leadership. When implementing intensely involved models of collaboration like the lesson study, leaders will likely encounter a wide array of not only willingness to collaborate from faculty but also varying levels of social capabilities for collaboration. Individuals operating under lower levels of social development, like the self-sovereign mind and even the socialized mind, may resist and fail to benefit from collaborative work until they can be moved to further development by their need to make sense of their new and complex experiences.

Critical pedagogy

The self-sovereign mind is intensely self-interested and superficial, and while Kegan insists that developmental stages are consistent across situations without regression, it can be easy for faculty members operating in the autonomous, and often competitive higher education landscape to get stuck in this simplistic, ego-driven way of thinking as a means of bolstering their professional survival. Self-sovereign individuals can fail to see the connections between themselves and others, so being asked to connect their previously self-governing instructional lives with a larger collective of pedagogical perspectives can seem frustrating or a waste of time.

Even for individuals operating from the developmental level above the self-sovereign, like the socialized mind, alternative perspectives can lead to dissonance and confusion because they lack the social capacity to easily reconcile their own perspectives with those of others. For example, leaders can move self-sovereign individuals into a more socialized way of thinking by framing initial attempts at collaboration in a way that directly benefits that individual, perhaps in the form of better student evaluations or smoother interpersonal exchanges within the department.

By facilitating development in this way, leaders help these individuals gain the capability of understanding the connections between themselves and others and become motivated by external forces like the values of the group or some sort of larger mission beyond themselves. Garvey Berger asserts that these developmental changes transform our way of thinking about what we know about ourselves and what we know about others.

Leaders using a social development lens when encouraging collaborative practices are helping faculty view their curriculum and their instruction in a new way by engaging in reciprocal exchanges of knowledge with peers or potential mentors. Learning to confront and reconcile the complexities and contradictions of collaborative work can help move faculty to higher levels of social development, and in turn, become more adept at self-direction and leading others. When encouraging a supportive educational culture that values experiences, collaboration, and development, a leader must take her place as an equal member of the group and help make the environment fertile for the free exchange of ideas and the cultivation of self-directed leaders, much like water in soil.

The most successful organizations are fluid and open to new ideas, and one of the most powerful ways to stay fluid and adaptable is to encourage the free flow of ideas on a constant basis, to make communication and teamwork a key component of the mission and culture. Lesson study is just one way for leadership in higher education to encourage the collaboration and grassroots leadership that makes educational institutions rich with innovation and prepared to adapt to the ever-changing outside world.

Like any cultural change, it is not an easy fix but a commitment from leadership to listen to others and to elevate the practical experiences of teachers to a higher institutional level and encourage faculty to do the same. Barnes, L. Effects of job-related stress on faculty: Intention to leave academia. Research in Higher Education, 39 4 , — Briggs, C.

Curriculum collaboration: A key to continuous program renewal. The Journal of Higher Education, 78 6 , Cerbin, W. Lesson study as a model for building pedagogical knowledge and improving teaching. International Journal of Teaching and Learning, 18 3 , Demir, K. Implementing Japanese lesson study in a higher education context.

Journal of College Science Teaching, 42 4 , Fein, M. Redefining higher education: How self-direction can save colleges. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers. Fosnot, C. Constructivism: A psychological theory of learning. Fosnot Ed. Gardner, J. Leaders and followers. Wren Ed. Garvey Berger, J. Changing on the job: Developing leaders for a complex world. Greenleaf, R. Hindin, A. More than just a group: teacher collaboration and learning in the workplace.

Teachers and Teaching: Theory and Practice, 4 , Hutchings, P. The scholarship of teaching and learning reconsidered: Institutional integration and impact. Kegan, R. In over our heads: The mental demands of modern life. Kelchtermans, G. Teacher collaboration and collegiality as workplace conditions: A review. Journal of Education, 2, Kelley, R. In praise of followers. Kotter, J. What leaders really do. Lao-Tzu Tao Te Ching. Lester, J.


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