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Greig, Alison Track 1

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Learning Outside the Box

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Greig, Alison Track 1

  1. 1. Learning Outside the Box Alison Greig and Julian Priddle alison.greig@anglia.ac.uk
  2. 2. Holistic learning within a modular system • Challenges • Addressing these challenges • Impact on students learning • Case study
  3. 3. Working within the existing system • Recognise the educational benefits of a modular approach to learning • Accepted norm
  4. 4. Academic challenges of sustainability learning Sustainability Learning Aims to; Discipline learning Aims to; Create rounded oversight Create depth in specifics A coherent whole Serial detailed understanding Crosses discipline boundaries Mostly within a discipline boundary Focus on interconnections Focus on nodes Assess learning across modules Assess learning within modules Constructive alignment at course level Constructive alignment at modular level
  5. 5. Administrative challenges of sustainability learning Sustainability Learning Discipline learning Crosses units of administration e.g. departments Within units of administration e.g. departments Different department rules, timetables, practice and ethos Single set of rules etc Crosses budget centres – accounting complexity Single budget centre – accounting simplicity Does not fit regulatory/QA conventions Set within external regulatory frameworks
  6. 6. If its so challenging then why do it? “a reductionist approach, which treats our complex, interconnected, finite, ecological-social- psychological-economic system as if it were divisible, simple and infinite has been unable to staunch our persistent intractable global problems” (Meadows 1982: p101)
  7. 7. What is holistic learning? • Interdisciplinary? Multidisciplinary? Transdisciplinary? • Emphasis on HOW L&T should happen rather than on WHAT should be taught • Broader than pedagogy – its about more than just ‘what students should know’ • Links to UNESCOs (1996) 4 pillars of learning • Learning to know • Learning to do • Learning to live together • Learning to be • And Head, Heart and Hands - Sipos, Battisti and Grimm (2006)
  8. 8. HE focus on learning to know • Basis of our modular systems • Basis of our QA systems • Basis of our qualifications Learning to know is not enough!
  9. 9. Sustainability learning = learning for change • Knowledge Action Gap - cognitive and intellectual understanding of sustainability is only weakly associated with individuals or society becoming more sustainable • Need to include the other three pillars • Learning to do, Learning to live together, Learning to be • Takes sustainability learning beyond the cognitive domain, into the affective sensorimotor and social domains e.g. Dettmer (2006) • Can be unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory
  10. 10. Learn Experience Practice Demonstrate Learning Journey
  11. 11. Student Response (1) Systems thinking and interdisciplinarity “I am comfortable with dealing with a wide range of subjects” but also “Can you tell me which module this session links to?” “It has felt difficult to truly engage in one subject because of other areas.” Learning beyond the cognitive paradigm “Eden residentials have been brilliant & have really added value to the MSc” “[The MSc has] showed me that work can be aligned with your values, have purpose and be a further expression of who you are.” “I really enjoyed the Eden residentials but they were light on content”
  12. 12. Student Response (2) Open mindedness “To be completely honest, …. I felt very disappointed and frustrated [ with my work placement ]…. this work placement …exceeded every expectation I had by tenfold.” Agency “I love the authority that doing this MSc has given me “ “it has forced me to step outside of my normal realms of comfort, the results of which have often surprised me."
  13. 13. Conclusions • Holistic learning is an essential pre-requisite for change • Holistic learning is a challenge for universities and students • Universities and students may be ‘habituated’ to the modular system • Holistic learning can place universities and students outside their comfort zone • Evidence that students remain open-minded and recognise the benefits
  14. 14. References • Dettmer (2006) New Blooms in Established Fields: Four Domains of Learning and Doing Roeper Review; Winter 2006; 28, 2; ProQuest Education Journals pg. 70 • Meadows, D.H. (1982) Whole Earth Models and Systems, The CoEvolution Quarterly, Summer, 98–108. • Sipos,Y, Battisti, B and Grimm, K. (2008) Achieving transformative sustainability learning: engaging head, hands and heart. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 9:1 , 68-86 • UNESCOs (1996) Learning: The Treasure Within. Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century. UNESCO
  15. 15. Thank you for listening! alison.greig@anglia.ac.uk

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