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S. Monteiro, A. Martins, J.A. Lencastre

Universidade do Minho (PORTUGAL)
The role of Higher Education (HE) in society has been irreversibly transformed by recent technological advances and the widespread access to the Internet, particularly concerning the knowledge production and to the training of qualified workforces. Higher Education Institutions (HEI) have been reacting slowly, in a “traditional” way, both to the fragmentation of their target audience and to the ever changing requisites of the global labour market.
An example of that is the design of Curricular Units (CU) in e-Learning in HE that remains, in most cases, a teacher-centered model, one-size fits all. We consider that e-Learning can indeed be a useful platform to promote learning that meets the needs and expectations of a heterogeneous audience as well as the labour market. It is, however, necessary to address some of the problems that hinder its success, namely the high dropout rates, which in some cases can reach up to 50% [1].
Within this perspective and to promote a more engaging and personalised learning system that accommodates different ways of learning, we bring to discussion the Multiple Intelligences (MI) Theory [3] as a guide to the instructional design of CU in e-Learning in HE. MI Theory application in e-Learning has been reported to promote intrinsic motivation [4], which is related to the increase of retention rates, a critical factor for HEI, both regarding their economy and credibility.
In this context, we defined the following research question: is it possible to rethink the design of CU for e-Learning in HE based on MI theory to promote student-centered learning? Having this issue as a compass, our project’s primary goal is to develop a framework that supports student-centered education, to guide the instructional design of CU for e-Learning in HE, based on the MI theory.
We will use a Development Research methodology consisting of the following steps: 1. Problem analysis, 2. Solution design based on the theoretical framework, 3. Develop (prototype) a solution, 4. Evaluate and test, 5. Reflect and document the general design principles.
With this study we intend: (i) to contribute to the discussion and practical application of MI in e-Learning in HE, promoting student-centered learning; (ii) to promote wider awareness of the learning processes [5] both by the students and by the HE teachers; (iii) to contribute to ensure greater intrinsic motivation [4] and learning, helping to reduce dropout rates in e-Learning in HE.
The need to promote a diversity of intelligences increasingly necessary for the integration in the global labour market and the training of individuals able to contribute to solve the complex problems of our societies, aligned to the widely accepted realization that HE needs to engage in considerable structural changes, makes it for an interesting time to investigate the application of Multiple Intelligences Theory in HE instructional development.
In this paper, we present a research proposal with the aim to promote discussion on the subject, receive feedback from peers and audit the interest of potential future partners’ contributions as a way to enrich the research project.