UiT The Arctic University of Norway (NORWAY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN16 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 1821-1826
ISBN: 978-84-608-8860-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2016.1365
Conference name: 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2016
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Continued professional development of teachers in higher education is becoming increasingly common in many countries. At UiT The Arctic University of Norway, the programme Foundational Pedagogical Competence in Higher Education extends over a year and is offered to academic staff on probation or applying for tenure. The intended learning outcome of the programme is the ability to apply learning theory to develop, reflect on, and challenge own teaching practice.

Previously, the course was structured around a series of lectures presenting the main learning theories and relevant literature within the field. As a part of their teaching portfolio, the participants developed a text describing their personal teaching philosophy, linking this to their current and future teaching practice.

This approach with moving directly from overarching theories to concrete practice, turned out to be problematic. We observed that the participants’ relatively superficial theoretical understanding resulted in a gap between theory and application. Some participants reported feeling “like charlatans” dabbling in an unfamiliar terrain, in that they were not comfortable with their own knowledge and ability within education as a theoretical field. To an extent, this was also evident from their teaching philosophy texts.

Going over the instructional design, we saw that it did not facilitate the development of a deeper individual understanding of the theoretical concepts. Taking into account Bloom’s taxonomy, it could be argued that we expected the participants to move directly to higher order thinking without going through the stages of remembering and understanding.

In order to address this problem, we revised the instructional design, using the flipped classroom model. The new design was a three-phase process. The first phase was information acquisition done through video lectures and online resources. The second phase was designed to address the previous gap. Working with the lower levels of the taxonomy, participants engaged actively with the learning material, both individually and in groups. The focus was on specific concepts within the learning theories. In the third phase, we focused on applying the new conceptual understanding to own teaching practice.

The flipped classroom design with less time allocated to lectures, allowed the participants to be more active in the information acquisition stages, as well as in the remembering/understanding stages. It also enabled us as teachers to support the participants’ learning process in a more active manner. The work is currently ongoing, and the participants have not yet submitted their teaching philosophy texts. However, the course work up to this stage suggests that the participants have increased confidence and ability to apply the theoretical concepts to their own teaching practice.

Based on our experiences, we argue that in developing fruitful instructional designs, it is essential to take into account the intended learning outcomes, combined with taxonomic thinking. In other words, the “remembering and understanding” stage has to be addressed carefully in order to reach a stage where you can identify applicability and relevance to own teaching.
Instructional design, flipped classroom, teaching in higher education.