Using pedagogical projects to enhance analytical, critical and reflective teaching at Chalmers University of Technology.
Paper in proceedings, 2009
This paper evaluates the scholarly use, by teachers, of action research in analyzing and improving some aspect of their teaching and/or supervision.The questions it raises are:
•How can a teacher, who has to juggle research, teaching and outreach duties analyze and improve an aspect of his or her undergraduate or postgraduate teaching.
•How can such a teacher be supported in this endeavor?
•How can the results be best disseminated?
Action research is a practical, cyclical method used by practitioners, including educators, to analytically reflect on and improve their practice. Kurt Lewin is considered the initiator of action research and Stephen Kemmis and others within the educational action research movement have helped establish it as a major research strand. This paper reports on the way in which more than sixty teachers from Chalmers have, over the last five years, carried out action research projects designed to improve some specific aspect of their teaching; create or reform programs or parts of programs at the undergraduate or postgraduate level; and activate teaching and learning in their tutorials, labs, project work or supervision. One important aspect of these projects is that individuals present the results verbally to their colleagues and receive constructive criticism, including how the project raises new questions that might form the basis of the next action research cycle. They also submit written reports which are edited and published as a compendium that is available to other Chalmers teachers and teachers in general, both online and in hard copy form. Since the reports are in English they can reach an international audience. Undertaking action research projects of this type is an important step in implementing what Boyer calls the 'scholarship of teaching'. The fact that the projects receive professional guidance from pedagogical experts throughout the process helps ensure their quality. Since the project aim at constant improvement (a common definition for quality) this paper has direct relevance to the fundamental theme of these conferences: quality in higher education. But it also touches on issues of how quality is defined and how resources are managed.
active learning in engineering education