PEDAGOGICAL INNOVATIONS: DEVELOPING COMMUNICATION PROFICIENCIES AMONG TEACHER STUDENTS
Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology and the Arts (ISRAEL)
The present paper describes a theoretical and organizational basis for an agenda of change initiated in a faculty of education at a major teachers college. The faculty-wide process aimed at developing students’ reading, and written and oral communication proficiencies, while focusing on clarity and coherence, and the use of rich, correct, and precise language for purposes of studying, teaching, and research. The underlying assumption is that processes of this kind strengthen students’ intellectual self-image and provide a foundation for their professional authority as educators, now and in the future.
The justifications for choosing this objective are based on a variety of factors: starting with the universal agreement among educators about the major importance of this topic in all educational settings, and as a basis for becoming an educated individual; through a present-day reality that reflects a low level of functioning in this area among students in various stages of the education system, including academic settings; and finally, research findings about patterns of communication skill development, the intellectual maturity needed for it, and the close connection between communication skills and scholastic achievement.
In search of the best way to direct the faculty-wide pedagogical agenda, three complex issues were debated:
a). What is the most appropriate framework for developing students’ communication skill: special courses devoted to this subject or in combination with disciplinary teaching?;
b). Who is being tasked with this mission: experts in the field of reading, writing and communication, or the entire faculty?;
c).What teaching and learning processes will advance the development of the students’ communication skills?
Since the actual implementation of a new pedagogical agenda requires both knowledge of pedagogy and management and experience, a three-year action plan was designed to lead it. The faculty-wide process included the following elements: formulating a clear and focused message, planning a long-term program, and creating a culture of cooperation by building models of collaborative learning.
To launch the first phase of the agenda of change, a “faculty seminar” was organized. The learning activities and the discussions that took place there resulted into a set of principles, according to which pilot programs were designed, to be implemented during the second year. The following year, the agenda for developing student’s communication skills generated a system-wide change and created a significant impact on the teaching and learning processes in the faculty of education’s various programs. The presentation will include an elaborated description of the educational processes that occurred during the second year of the plan implementation, at each faculty department.
Finally, topics for future research will be introduced.