THE ANALYSIS OF STUDENTS’ EXPERIENCE LIVED IN PRACTICAL STUDIES AT THE HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTION: "… AS IF YOU BECOME A SPONGE THAT ABSORBS EVERYTHING…"
The analysis of students’ lived learning experiences and feelings is a relevant and significant source for improving students’ teaching and learning content at the higher education institution. Two structural parts of the study process at the higher education institution are emphasised, namely: theoretical conveyance of the basics of the profession (acquisition of knowledge) and formation of necessary professional abilities, using directions of practical activities (classroom activities and activities at specialized institutions) and methods. These two structural parts of the study process are interrelated and supplement each other. The structure and content of studies at the higher education institution when preparing specialists in the area of education sciences are more focused on subject-centred rather than pedagogical education; insufficient attention is given to students’ practical teaching, enabling to turn students’ feelings into experience through self-reflection and reflection.
To disclose the peculiarities of lived practical experiences of students studying at the higher education institution as a basis for the development of integration of theoretical and practical knowledge at the university.
Unstructured written reflections. The experiences acquired by 65 prospective special education teachers during their practice, i.e. how practical experiences influenced the change of students’ self-determination, are revealed by referring to reflections of outlived situations.
The phenomenological hermeneutical method (Lindseth, Norberg, 2004). The phenomenological hermeneutic analysis of the text involves phases, which constitute a dialectic movement between the whole and the parts between understanding and explanation.
The research disclosed that written reflections enabled students to think over their practical experience, identify and modify personal assumptions about the role of the future specialists. During reflections students paid attention to such feelings which in the opposite case could have been smothered or rationalised. Reflection of one’s experiences and experienced emotions enables to research, understand and learn from them. Reflection helped students to review and identify their concern, happiness, worry, anger, frustration, etc., finding their place in future professional activities.
Students’ experience acquired during practices is based on hidden reflection, when theoretical knowledge systems provided during lectures are related to previous experience, namely experience lived in practice, and vice versa. Often, students’ practical experience is limited to technical skills applied in specific situations. On the other hand, theoretical knowledge acquired at the university is not related to practical activity. The evident need of integrating reflection on the results of students’ practice and theoretical knowledge conveyed at the university showed up in order to turn reflection on action into reflection in action, and, at the same time, into reflection for action