The issue addressed in IMPROPAL (Improvement Project for Active Learning) is the quality of learning for students, mainly during their studies but also in the preparation and training for upcoming employment.
The project is particularly relevant for 2 of the 8 key competences for lifelong learning highlighted in the EU policy documents: learning to learn and sense of initiative and entrepreneurship. It is in line with the EU horizontal priority of developing basic and transversal skills using innovative methods. The complexity of the project enabled additional value when it comes to increasing key digital and technical competence of staff and students, as well as insights related to the key competences of cultural and intercultural awareness.
The question of interest for the project is: How can we change the way our schools and universities teach, so that the students are training to take on a greater responsibility for their own learning, both during their education and, later on, during their professional life?
The goal of taking more responsibility for the own learning is well recognized in EU policy documents. In the reference literature presented in the project application, responsibility is mentioned as an important cross-curricular key competence.
(a) An overall objective of the project is increased responsibility for the own learning among students during higher education and upon entering professional practice.
(b) Development of a toolbox of innovative pedagogical approaches to support the first objective, to help train students to become more responsible for their own learning through: flipped learning (IO1), entrepreneurial approach to learning (IO2), co-creative learning (IO3), project work (IO4), coaching and counselling (IO5) and formative assessment (IO6).
Xenter Botkyrka, Sweden – Higher Vocational Education Institution, project coordinator
Jade UAS, Wilhelmshaven, Germany – Higher Education
BBS Wilhelmshaven, Germany – Sec. Vocational Education
Windesheim UAS, The Netherlands – Higher Education
Worms UAS, Germany – Higher Education
Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning, TU of Cluj-Napoca, Romania – Higher Education
The main activities undertaken in the project are related to the development (planning, implementation, evaluation, dissemination) of the Intellectual Outputs 1-6. For this, IMPROPAL used a working procedure where one partner was leading the development of a particular pedagogical approach and other partners were following the input, pursuing to implement the ideas of the chosen approach in their own context.
Activities were organised based on the Followers visit Leaders or Leaders visit Followers principle, as learning, teaching and training activities for teachers and/or subproject managers. The project also included Transnational Project Meetings, for project coordination purposes, once a year.
Activities for dissemination and spreading of results were performed by each project partner at local, regional, national or international level or added in connection with each partner visit in order to add value to the planned activities and allow further networking or receiving feedback about the ideas and work within the project.
The project organized two Multiplier Events where all six Intellectual Outputs were presented to a wide audience.
One main result of project IMPROPAL is the tangible output – a toolbox consisting of six pedagogical approaches. Ment for teachers, school leaders and different stakeholders in the field of education, the toolbox gathers all implementation and good practice examples tried out during the project. It also contains guidelines, the do’s and the dont’s, descriptions, theoretical considerations and evaluation tools – in cases where this was applicable, as well as analyses and recommendations on the experience of implementing the pedagogical approaches. The toolbox is useful and applicable to different educational levels and sectors, not only in using the pedagogical approaches separately but also in combination with each other, having one common goal – educating for responsibility in learning.
Another main result is the intangible outcome of increased awareness for the project participants and others coming in contact with the project, about how working with the mentioned pedagogical approaches can lead to empowering of learners and thus having effects on their lives in general – education, work, citizenship. This is one of the long-term benefits of project IMPROPAL, something we hope to investigate and develop further.
Knowledge and practical examples about how responsibility in learning can be stimulated in all educational settings is also important for promoting equity and inclusion by facilitating access to education and success in performance for special groups facing challenges. Some of the pedagogical approaches contained in the IMPROPAL toolbox can serve to improve education systems for these groups.
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