Organization

Univeristy of Wales, Bangor

Project Description

Using variation to develop learning flexibility

Project Abstract

Current practices in higher education increasingly support and promote didactic pedagogies where the student is assumed to be learning through a process of information accumulation and the trainer�s role is interpreted as one of information priorities and transmission. In response, learners adopt approaches to studying which reflect on the underlying levels of cognition that can be achieved and the diversity of learning outcomes. Teacher-centered approaches to learning encourage surface and strategic approaches to study which promote �fact� based learning. The current pedagogical practice further supports this by setting learning outcomes and understandings which are defined by and congruent with the teachers� conception and which inhibits learning flexibility. In reality when dealing with complex issues, outcomes need to support the generation of new knowledge and understandings which may differ from the existing understandings.

This project proposes a change in pedagogical approach and practice towards learner-centeredness, promoting deep approaches to study mediated within conversational frameworks. Conversational frameworks provide a space of variation in the form of individuals� understandings of complex issues presented from a variety of different perspectives. Outcomes are therefore generative as they require learners to exert flexibility in order to discern different aspects of an object, provided by variation in the ways of experiencing the object, and the different ways an object can be conceived and understood. The learner�s relationship with the object changes as different meanings can now be assigned to that object. This is a change in the person-world relationship which is learning exhibited as a flexible performance capability. Consequently the learning design affords the development of learner flexibility.

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