A.A. Jensen, L.K. Kjær-Rasmussen

Aalborg University (DENMARK)
The context of the study is the first year of the BA program in Organizational Learning at Aalborg University. The aim of the program is to educate students to be able to analyse, support and manage learning and knowledge based development in private and public organizations in the light of national and international developments in society. From national and international research it is documented that most students as a starting point are motivated and have a certain level of study skills when they enter HE programs (Ulriksen, 2014, Ramsden, 2003). We also know from our pedagogical Problem Based Learning model, which has been practiced since 1974 that most students are able to handle and manage individual and collaborative learning processes when it is expected and indicated to them (Krogh & Jensen, 2013). However, from research we also have to realize that many students loose motivation and interest for the study if they experience teaching activities and a culture where they are not taken seriously enough and if the culture signals distance, academic arrogance and lack of interest in the students. Our hypothesis is that this kind of experiences may be avoided if students get the chance to become more responsible for their own learning activities and thus feel acknowledged and trusted to be able to handle this.

According to Boud and Marton (2004) HE institutions have the responsibility to prepare students for an unknown future. – They must develop basic academic skills and be able to continuously solve unforeseen problems in a diversity of professional (and private) situations by applying context-sensitive strategies and methods in innovative and changing ways. In Denmark focus on the quality of education and teaching has increased. The focus is primarily centered on issues such as transparency and meaningfulness for students, relevance and employability. This year the Quality Committee established by the Danish Government published two reports, which point out several of the above mentioned issues regarding the quality of Danish HE. At the same time resources for HE has become still more limited during the last years – which also makes it obvious that we have to consider new ways of organizing the study programs.

In this paper we will present a study of an experiment of curriculum change based on principles such as respect for students and the establishment of study environments, where students are offered the opportunity to become leaders of own learning processes. This means being responsible for and influencing the curriculum in collaboration with the teachers. Our research interest is to what extent this curriculum change is feasible from day one in a BA program; what are the strong and weak points in the curriculum and does it in fact influence student motivation in a positive way. The experiment takes place in the fall semester of 2015, and the paper will present our preliminary findings. The data consisting of documents and student logs supplemented by field notes from observations, student evaluations and focus group interviews will be analyzed based on Illeris’ learning model of the relations between driving forces (motivation, feelings, willpower), learning content (knowledge, understanding and skills) and interaction processes (action, communication, collaboration) (Illeris 2015).