Improving Classroom Engagement and International Development Programs: International Perspectives on Humanizing Higher Education: Volume 27

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Table of contents

(18 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-x
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Part I: Bridging the Emotional Connect

Abstract

Educational pedagogy is concerned about student-centered learning that engages students and involves them in a meaningful manner to enhance critical thinking and creativity. Creative teaching and learning methods are a catalyst that can improve the learning experiences of students. Good teaching and the experience associated with it helps to connect students, faculty and the subject that is being taught to the students (Palmer, 2007). Many subjects till today are taught with a purely fact-based approach, and such traditional methods overlook the need to bring the subject to life and to make learning meaningful. Multi-dimensional methods are used to encourage students and convert them to successful learners with the ability to think creatively. The issue of student’s disconnectedness is a matter of much academic pursuit and using non-traditional methods such as plays, narratives and even humor are on the rise and have gained popularity due to their success in classroom teaching (Dunn, 2000). This book will help to highlight various case studies and interventions that have used innovative ways to improve the teaching-learning methods and engage students in the classroom. Academicians, through the chapters in this volume, have argued that education does not only mean teaching, learning and research but also the emotional connection and commitment that involves a dialogical process between the faculty and students. It is the responsibility of the faculty members to ultimately create an environment that provides the students with tools that are socially engaging, interactive and meaningful (Dunn, 2000).

Abstract

Higher Education (HE) teaching, learning and research require not only cognitive but also emotional commitment from all who are involved in those dialogic processes: the academic and the student. The focus of this chapter is on unexplored territory: emotions at play within undergraduate research (UR) outside the classroom, specifically experienced by students who are engaged in these opportunities for the first time. After reflecting on the problem and bringing together theoretical approaches related to this theme, the authors present a case study, drawing on qualitative data collected in two institutional contexts – one in the UK and other in Portugal. The data analysis leads us to create a framework that addresses the authors’ two research questions, concerning: the emotions that students experience when they are involved in an UR project, and the aspects of that experience the reported emotions relate to. This leads the authors to suggest some recommendations at the end, so they can move toward a more humanized HE experience. This chapter gives an original contribution to discussions on emotions in HE teaching, learning and research in general, and UR in particular.

Abstract

Here, the authors present a case study of how two professors from different disciplines at the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, managed to interweave dialogic components of Paulo Freire’s pedagogy into an institutional context full of requirements and demands that restrict pedagogical choices. Enacting Freire’s ideal of a liberatory epistemology, as Freire calls it, is extremely difficult, because institutional constraints increase the psychological and emotional distance between our students and instructors. In spite of this, the instructors devised ways to create a classroom based on Freire’s dialogic approach to education. Using Martin Buber’s terminology, the authors work to establish their students as “Thous” rather than as “Its.” Together with their students, the authors explore their texts, and generate free discussions based on the notion of co-constructing our classroom and co-constructing what knowledge is and means to us. Establishing this “open space” of inquiry and acceptance involves practicing Freire’s strategies producing authentic dialogue. Here, instructors participate actively with students. They engage in classroom exercises and even write with the students. The atmosphere in the classroom is relational and inter-subjective. Instructors also enact behaviors explained in Julien Mirivel’s Positive Communication model that bridge the gulf of separateness that work to decipher the unknown.

Abstract

The increase in college students’ mental health struggles has led to a 30–40% increase in college counseling center visits between 2009 and 2015 (Center for Collegiate Mental Health, 2018). Traditional responses to this problem have focused mainly on increasing therapy staffs, but this approach has reached a tipping point due to shrinking budgets. In this piece, we advocate for widening the lens on the college student mental health issue to focus more on the systems that can mitigate or exacerbate students’ wellbeing. More specifically, we propose an updated version of in loco parentis as a model that could potentially decrease alienation and encourage the kinds of meaningful connections young people need to thrive.

Abstract

This chapter offers an account on the development and usage of a conceptual framework and instrument to examine authentic university academic care (AUAC) at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), a non-mainland Historical Black College and University. AUAC is an amalgamation of genuine human concerns and disciplined nurturing within university academic services. This chapter is a synthesis of literature review, data analysis, findings and discussion on AUAC. Data were collected from a convenient sample (n = 126) of UVI students’ responses. An exploratory quantitative research design was used. Exploratory factor analysis identified eight associated caring about academic caregiving criteria in all four-points on the university academic caring carescapes framework. Based on UVI students’ perceptions and a factor-score correlation analysis, academic caregiving of colleges/schools were observed to be the focal point of UVI’s AUAC. Furthermore, the strongest association was found between the academic caregiving of colleges/schools and faculty.

Abstract

The chapter explores the value of dialogue and the dialogic for developing student and staff agency, “voice” and ethics in the context of a first-year undergraduate module of the BA Hons Education Studies, an undergraduate course at The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design and a Postgraduate Certificate of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education module, at London Metropolitan University, United Kingdom. The authors take a case study approach, making use of Freire’s ideas of critical pedagogy, to reflect on their personal learning and teaching experience as well as the feedback received from students and staff. The aim of the chapter is to explore how to empower (non-traditional) students and staff – and bridge the gap between students’ and teachers’ understanding of what this might entail. Rather than trying to bring students “up to speed” to prepare them for successful study and a professional career, or better “train” staff to deliver policy and strategy, we argue that we need to welcome them for the people they are as we help them to navigate a Higher Education system in need of humanizing.

Abstract

This chapter presents a qualitative investigation of lecturers’ perceptions of critical thinking and how this influenced how they taught. All of the participants taught the same first-year university chemistry course. This case study provides insights about how there may need to be fundamental shifts in lecturers’ perceptions about learning and the development of critical thinking skills so that they can enhance knowledge and understanding of chemistry as well as advance the students’ critical thinking. Recommendations are made for professional learning for lecturers and for changing the “chemistry” of the design of learning experiences through valuing critical thinking in assessments and making critical thinking more explicit throughout the course. The authors argue that critical thinking must be treated as a developmental phenomenon.

Abstract

At Abilene Christian University, a variety of programs and training sessions in our Center for Teaching and Learning encourage faculty to reconsider academic conventions of pedagogy, to step out of the traditional sage on the stage model and connect with students through practices of hospitality and vulnerability. To truly engage in deep learning, risk is required on the part of both faculty and students, and these practices promote a decentered power structure within the classroom that allows authentic connection with the material and one another. Creating a student-centered classroom space that allows for respectful dialogue about challenging topics is one way to make our classrooms’ places of respect and collaboration, where all voices are an essential part of learning. In this chapter, the authors explore the literature on the benefits of practices of hospitality and vulnerability, share information about some well-established faculty development series that aid faculty in creating classroom environments that promote the practice of hospitality and vulnerability, and provide specific strategies for creating this type of environment. Authors share a variety of resources that readers can use to promote practices of hospitality and vulnerability in their own classrooms.

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to present a model to support a humanizing approach to international education that is sustainable and facilitates respectful service, scholarship and teaching. University faculty engage internationally through teaching, service and scholarship. All three require faculty to possess strong trusting connections to the international community in which they operate. Literature suggests that the impulse to initiate service learning and scholarship with communities foreign to the faculty too early can be detrimental. A deep relationship between the faculty and community built upon trust and mutual respect is the key to successful internationally situated service, teaching and scholarship. However, such relationships require time to develop and many universities cannot support faculty toward developing international relationships. The Deep Field School presents a way of blending teaching, service and scholarship in a way that supports the nurturing of long-term relationships. The Deep Field School is an internationally situated short-term faculty led study abroad that operates with a commitment toward the long term and closely adheres to the humanizing principle that learning is a process not an outcome. A deep field school operating in Peru is presented as a case study along with guidelines for development.

Part II: Engaging Students

Abstract

Problematic attributes of providing development aid in International Service-Learning (ISL) placements exist with its paternalistic implications. Broadening the discussion of ISL by shifting the focus toward prioritizing the incorporation of goals of cross-cultural learning and fostering cultural humility addresses these problematic attributes. Approaching ISL placements with a learning mindset inverts the service-learning model by emphasizing learning over helping. Additionally, cultivating a deeper self-awareness and learning from the host communities prior to offering service encourages cultural humility, enhances the ability to remain open to different perspectives, and sustains engagement as a lifelong learner. A framework for developing international education experiences with a systems-oriented approach is proposed: one that acknowledges the interdependent relationships with others in global social and economic structures. The proposed framework applies Milton Bennett’s Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity and Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti’s HEADS UP educational tool for critical engagement in global social justice issues. Transformative learning theory guides the process of perspective transformation and invites students to critically reflect on their own values, assumptions, and cultural beliefs. The intent is to establish a model for ISL placements which invites respectful collaboration across cultural differences and imbalances in power relations.

Abstract

The growing body of research on student engagement in online writing courses suggests that learning management system (LMS) technology does not by itself create an interactive learning situation nor does it automatically engage students in meaningful interactions with their peers and the instructor. Traditional top-down engagement strategies such as a discussion forum, we argue, have not worked to increase student-to-student engagement in the online environment, confirming our contention that students’ notions of engagement and quality are different from instructors’. Engagement should be re-envisioned as a student-centered effort, wherein educators take on the responsibility of implementing strategies that promote student-to-student engagement. This chapter, then, reconceptualizes approaches to student engagement in online writing-intensive classes. It examines how virtual learning environments challenge traditional notions of student engagement, offers some innovative learner–instructor engagement strategies that can be marshaled to improve student learning, and addresses the challenges and successes of this undertaking, in an effort to establish a meaningful and sustainable student-centered online writing classroom.

Abstract

Partnerships and collaborative projects between universities and colleges in higher education have the potential to increase diversity in education and can prepare students for international experiences in the workplace. With this in mind and through the Erasmus plus program, this chapter sets out to discuss the collaborative project between Institute of Technology Carlow, Ireland and Satakunta University of Applied Sciences, Finland, with international business students. The academic objective of the project was for the students to research and compare the marketing of a similar product in both countries. Underpinning this was the objective of providing the students with experience on working online in international teams, and thus preparing them for their career in international business while further engaging them with the module content.

Many challenges were identified during and after the project was complete. There were communication issues and cultural differences identified throughout. From the lecturers viewpoint, there was a need for clear, concise, hands on instruction from start to finish.

These challenges, however, were outweighed by the many benefits to the project. This project offered the students and lecturers with the opportunity to network, learn, gain experience, liaise and collaborate with new cultures. It presented them with a chance to develop their knowledge on international business, culture and communication.

Abstract

This chapter contextualizes futuristic learning in a distance education (DE) context for empowering and transforming students. Futuristic learning involves a continuous progress to higher levels of critical and creative thinking in a collaborative environment of academic freedom. Futuristic learning encourages classroom engagement and learning to students to use modern and advanced approaches of teaching and learning. The skills acquired should facilitate students’ intellectual, social, and emotional development. Futuristic pedagogy advocates the acquisition of systematized knowledge and skills and encourages the idea of engaging analytical and practical skills during learning. The chapter describes a practice that provides educational opportunities to a large section of students who study alone most of the time but get the opportunity of learning at organized tutorial sessions. This teaching approach may be the most viable option to mobilize futuristic learning in South Africa. A descriptive research methodology employed literature analysis of documents using data extracted from secondary sources of information, which entailed peer reviewed journal articles and books published between 2000 and 2018. A key finding is that the traditional form of education should pave way for futuristic pedagogy to allow schools to respond to the learning needs of students. The significance of the study is that it will offer opportunities for the change in learning approach to organize how student engagement will be carried out in the future. Informed by this finding futuristic learning should be committed to the provision of quality education to all DE students.

Abstract

Communicating in English brings about a number of challenges for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students. Such challenges remain unaddressed and unresolved within the traditional classroom settings, which are often dominated by intense guidance and instructions. The aim of this chapter is to address, discuss, and research project-based learning (PBL) as an effective pedagogical approach capable of prompting higher education students’ EFL capabilities – particularly English writing skills – in an engaging, student-centered manner that connects to their real-life experiences and develops a range of their generic skills. The PBL approach was designed, integrated, and implemented within the curriculum of the intensive English course (ENGL 101) delivered at Phoenicia University. Over a semester, 120 students across all four sections actively engaged, in groups, in PBL tasks, where they were required to identify problems in their community, propose solutions to these problems, and develop action plans to ensure that such solutions are sustainable. A mixed method approach that comprised a questionnaire (pre- and post-test) and semi-structured interviews was implemented. This chapter found that the adopted PBL method was very effective in promoting students’ engagement, ownership, and confidence in EFL. Additionally, this chapter showcased the power of PBL as a pedagogical device in humanizing EFL students’ experiences and education and provoking them to build their citizenship and agency in tackling problems and issues of relevance to them and their communities rather than being passive sufferers or observers of such problems and issues.

Name Index

Pages 227-237
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Subject Index

Pages 239-243
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Cover of Improving Classroom Engagement and International Development Programs: International Perspectives on Humanizing Higher Education
DOI
10.1108/S2055-3641202027
Publication date
2020-08-28
Book series
Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-83909-473-6
eISBN
978-1-83909-472-9
Book series ISSN
2055-3641