L.P.B. Kjeldsen1, H.W. Kjaergaard2

1VIA University College (DENMARK)
2Aarhus University (DENMARK)
The authors have previously developed and consolidated the pedagogical model called “The Convergent Learning Space” (Kjaergaard & Kjeldsen, 2014), a planning and reflection tool for teachers, which allows them to consider students’ degree of freedom of choice on various elements of teaching and learning in the context of the new, technology-rich learning environments. The elements involved are: learning approach, learning spaces, learning tools, availability, and lifeworlds.

Building on this, aiming to include/involve students in the planning to invite more engagement and reflection, the project explored the possibility of developing a tool for students to enable teacher to balance their expectations with those of the students concerning degree of student freedom of choice.

In the project, a group of entrepreneurship students entered into collaboration with the authors and developed a prototype from a student perspective, having first been thoroughly introduced to the model. The prototype consisted of: a video introducing students to the elements of the model; a tool allowing students to indicate their preferences concerning the elements of the model; assistive text facilitating student choices. As student preferences were sent to the teacher, the prototype would allow students and teacher the possibility of verbalization of aspects of teaching normally taken for granted, just as it could enhance the possibility of dialog and balancing of expectations before an actual teaching cycle or sequence started.

After being introduced to the concepts, the tool, the processes involved, and the general aim of the project, three teachers from diverse educational contexts (student teachers, engineers (Danish and international students), and nurses) piloted the tool. Subsequently, questionnaires were distributed to the students involved (n=82).

In general, results showed that the introductions to the model and its elements had only been adequate to allow some students to use the tool as intended, despite them being developed from and with a student perspective. Thus, it appears that more knowledge was needed by students than the student developers had foreseen, the model in its present state perhaps being too complex.

However, to the students who had understood the model and the intentions of the model, it appeared to have made sense and enhanced their learning outcome. Thus, these students appreciate the idea of being given a voice and being able to verbalize and balance student/teacher expectations in relation to freedom of choice. Similarly, having to indicate preferences concerning the elements has enhanced their reflection on their learning process.

Overall, 50 % of the respondents indicated that the work with the model had enhanced their learning processes, e.g. through having been given a voice. Although not providing the desired results, the pilot gave input for further development and showed the potential of using the model in this way.

[1] Kjaergaard, H. W., & Kjeldsen, L. P. B. (2014). The Convergent Learning Space: New Developments in Pedagogical Practice. ICERI 2014 Proceedings.