Problem Based Learning to enhance students’ reflexivity; theoretical framework and experimental design

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper

Abstract

A crucial skill for scientists involved in sustainability issues is the ability to reflect on knowledge and knowledge production in research projects with high levels of interaction between scientists and other stakeholders. Little is known about adequate teaching and learning strategies that allow for teaching reflexive skills. The research presented in this paper aims to contribute in this direction. In elaborating reflexive skills we distinguished three components: (i) assessing the relative contributions of scientific disciplines and non-academic knowledge to environmental problem solving; (ii) assessing the role of norms and values in research; and (iii) critically assessing one's own position (in terms of knowledge and values) in research projects. We then present a framework for teaching and learning reflexive skills which is based on the following interrelated core elements: theories on science-society interaction; concrete experiences in problem-oriented research; interactions with others engaged in learning reflexive skills, and explicit reflection tasks. In order to investigate whether and how this framework indeed can be applied for improving reflexive skills we applied an experimental design to an existing course. We aim to assess whether students’ interdisciplinary reflexive skills improved after successful completion of a course that adopted this framework, and whether the introduction of a special training influenced the improvement of these skills. Three groups of 30 Master of Science students were involved in the study. Each group collaborated in a project using scientific knowledge and methods to address a real life issue. Two variables were applied: lectures on theoretical aspects of science-society interactions in inter- and transdisciplinary research and teacher efforts to scaffold on the introduction of norms and values in problem-oriented research. The course enabled all students to interact with scientists as well as non-academic actors, to interact with students with various perspectives (based on different cultural or disciplinary background) and to reflect on the theory, experience and interaction. Students’ reflexive skills were assessed through a questionnaire (pre-test and post-test) and a reflection assignment. The set-up of this experiment is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Engineering Education for Sustainable Development EESD13, 22-25 September 2013, Cambridge, UK
EditorsR. Fenner
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherUniversity of Cambridge
Pages170-178
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventEngineering Education for Sustainable Development EESD13; Re-thinking the Engineer, Cambridge, UK -
Duration: 22 Sep 201325 Sep 2013

Conference

ConferenceEngineering Education for Sustainable Development EESD13; Re-thinking the Engineer, Cambridge, UK
Period22/09/1325/09/13

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