University of Aveiro (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN18 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 2234-2242
ISBN: 978-84-09-02709-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2018.0614
Conference name: 10th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2018
Location: Palma, Spain
Higher education has been subject to continuous changes. Particularly since the Bologna Declaration, there is a tendency to place students in the center of the teaching-learning process and to implement pedagogical activities in a more dynamic, active, and collaborative way, replacing the traditional model centered on the role of the teacher and on the importance of theoretical knowledge acquisition. One of the reasons is the recognition that soft skills, such as interpersonal and communication skills, are as important as hard skills for graduate employability (e.g. Andrews & Higson, 2008; Clokie & Fourie, 2016), and thus should be a major focus of the teaching-learning processes. A possible strategy is the development of interdisciplinary pedagogical activities, namely to find solutions to complex problems that characterize today's world. It aims at developing interdisciplinary thinking, which is the ability to integrate knowledge of two or more subjects to produce a complex cognitive skill, developing boundary-crossing skills that are an objective of an interdisciplinary higher education (Spelt et al., 2009). In fact, the benefits provided by this holistic approach are fundamental in the current of higher education, despite not being a common practice - on the contrary, it is usually associated to innovative activities. Consequently, the outcomes and impact on students is generally unknown.
This paper describes and presents results of four interdisciplinary pedagogical initiatives carried out with the students enrolled in Tourism Products course, at University of Aveiro, Portugal, in the winter semester of 2017. This set of activities aimed at promoting the development of appropriate skills for students of this level of education. A content analysis techniques for contextualized interpretations was used in the critical reports that students write for each activity and a descriptive analysis from the obtained data of a survey answered by students (in order to auto evaluate their developed skills). Additionally, teachers identified some indicators of commitment (e.g., students' attendance, punctuality, participation) and recorded these values in both innovative interdisciplinary pedagogical practices and others activities during the semester.
The results demonstrate that interdisciplinary pedagogical practices allowed the development of transversal skills, adequate attitudes, and commitment in all students. The interaction with different stakeholders allowed students to acquire a more real knowledge of the market, increased readiness to work autonomously, developed interpersonal and communication competencies and critical thinking skills. Overall, students felt more motivated to successfully carry out the proposed pedagogical activities, recognizing the relevance of developing an assertive thinking about topics explored in the classroom to fully achieve the learning outcomes.
Andrews, J., & Higson, H. (2008). Graduate Employability, ‘Soft Skills’ Versus ‘Hard’ Business Knowledge: A European Study. Higher Education in Europe, 33(4), 411-422
Clokie, T., &Fourie, E. (2016). Graduate Employability and Communication Competence: Are Undergraduates Taught Relevant Skills? Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, 79(4), 442-463.
Spelt, E., Biemans, H., Tobi, H., Luning, P., & Mulder, M. (2009). Teaching and Learning in Interdisciplinary Higher Education: A Systematic Review. Educational Psychology Review, 21(4), 365-378.
Interdisciplinary, students’ skills, higher education, teaching-learning pedagogical practices.