KEY ACADEMIC SKILLS – A MEANINGFUL AND AUTHENTIC LEARNING EXPERIENCE APPROACH IN AN EXTRA-OCCUPATIONAL MASTER PROGRAM
Leuphana University of Lüneburg (GERMANY)
Being able to analyze, evaluate and discuss data and ideas are some of the key academic skills expected from students at a master’s level of study. Furthermore, academic work requires from students critical depth and discussion. Ideas and opinions must be justified with evidence and arguments, and also need to be stated properly. These skills are competences as well, that are highly transferable to the business world, making academic qualifications universally attractive to employers.
In order to acquire, develop and practice these skills and competences, and certainly ensure high academic quality standards in higher education programs, specific courses are offered at the very beginning of the programs of study. Especially when course content seems dry, even self-explanatory or memorizable, it is the task of the teacher to consider varied meaningful ways – by conceiving a didactical strategy – in order to facilitate students’ connections and applications to other subjects of study, providing and maintaining a train of thought along learning modules.
Determined by teachers’ interest in making the contents of their courses lasting is how innovative didactical concepts arise. Conceiving courses of this type require teachers to think and act beyond their classroom; this is: before the course has begun, while it is running and after the course has been completed. This implies preparing a set of procedures, a strategy for involving learners and other relevant persons in the learning process, communicating and cooperating with other colleagues for achieving a common goal, planning meaningful tasks, selecting suitable tools, among many others.
This contribution presents a teaching and learning experience of the course “Methods of Scientific Work” of an extra-occupational master program at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg.
The course was conceived as a meaningful and an authentic learning experience combining an interdisciplinary and a transdisciplinary approach. The concept focused on a specific community of adult learners, their interests and immediate learning needs. Collaboration, sharing and construction of knowledge among the members of the community were encouraged by appropriate meaningful and authentic tasks as well as by the potentials of communication technology and its publishing capabilities.
This case study is an example demonstrating that didactical innovation transcends the use of diverse and sophisticated technological tools. In order to ensure lasting learning outcomes, the teacher - here understood as a facilitator who remains a significant entity in the student’s learning process and as an important factor for determining student’s success – needs to consider strategies which balance methodology and technology properly.