Maria Avdjieva

  • Teaching for student learning by fostering a culture of change and innovation

    Maria Avdjieva, University of Auckland, New Zealand

    Session 4e, Tuesday 16.00

    Conceptual paper

    Themes addressed:

    • Course and programme design
    • Skills development and lifelong learning
    • Implementing and managing change and innovation

    Developing students’ capacity for individual and collaborative lifelong learning has taken centre stage in the knowledge society, which requires an educated population capable of creating, sharing and using knowledge (The Four Pillars of The Knowledge Economy, 2004) to its full potential. In many cases, however, equipping students for knowledge-based value-creation calls for unlocking their ingrained approaches to learning acquired in environments characterised by teacher-centredness and lack of collaborative initiatives (Cleary, 1996; Ravendran, 2001).

    This paper argues that in order to develop and assess students’ capacity for lifelong learning, educators need to take a transformational leadership approach to dealing with learners’ resistance to change and defensive routines (Argyris, 2004) that impede innovation. This means that they need to enhance their teaching and learning strategies by drawing upon management theories such as leadership, change management, organisational learning, and careers (Arthur, Inkson & Pringle, 1999; Loup & Koller, 2005; Senge, 1990). Strategies for encouraging, supporting and assessing students’ capability to self-manage their individual and collaborative learning needs and processes throughout life could be conceptualised, for example, by integrating relevant management theories (Romme, 2003) into ecological educational models (Frielick, 2003) that emphasise the effectiveness of ‘learning in context’.

    The author theorises the conditions necessary for developing students’ lifelong learning capabilities in terms of increasing demand for graduates capable of creating knowledge-based wealth through a complex set of interactions. The main hypothesis is that the key parties to the learning process – academics and students – could co-develop their strategic learning capabilities, including triple-loop learning (Flood & Romm, 1996) through practising the learning organisation disciplines (Senge, 1990a). Thus students’ intrinsic motivation and ability to question the status quo are seen as a powerful driver of their own learning and creativity, while environment is conceptualised as not just the medium of learning, but also as what is actually being learnt (Avdjieva, 2004). The development of productive learning relationships is characterised by a focus on initiative in co-creation of outcomes that are valuable to learners individually and collectively. Creating dynamic links between the learners could start with negotiations of learning frameworks, which have the potential to enable generative learning. By generating increased interest and dialogue about learning and teaching, all learners have the opportunity to take on new roles as co-creators of knowledge. The initial findings from this dialogue could be formalised in a learning charter – a living document that is continually questioned and enhanced by drawing upon newly created knowledge.

    Thus the proposed generic model sees embracing change and innovation as the driving curriculum force for knowledge-based value creation in the 21st century. The development of students’ learning capabilities could be embedded in the curriculum through practising, and preferably selectively teaching, relevant pedagogical and management theories. For students to commit to strategic learning and change, formative assessment could be complemented by a summative one where students can use their appreciation and experience of deep thinking and learning (Ramsden, 2003) to develop innovative strategies for high quality individual and collaborative lifelong learning.