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Active learning as didactic-methodical paradigm of contemporary teaching


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Gazibara, Senka. (2018). Active learning as didactic-methodical paradigm of contemporary teaching. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of Pedagogy.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij pedagogije) [mentor Buljubašić-Kuzmanović, Vesna].

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Today's society, characterized by fast and constant changes in all areas of life, requires from an individual lifelong learning and continuous development to be able to cope with these changes successfully and find their "place in the world." In order to succeed in achieving this, active learning is set as an imperative of modern education and it implies the essential learning of each individual, and is directed towards their full growth and development, and accomplishing the potential of each student, whereby they themselves are the constructors and co-constructors of their own knowledge. Although the value of the active learning concept is widely accepted and recognized, as confirmed by theoretical discussions and numerous empirical researches on this topic, the notion itself is still unclear and interpreted in various ways, resulting in its inadequate presence, unrecognizability and insufficient utilization of all its advantages and potentials in teaching practice, and the changes occurring in that context are only at the surface, without any lasting impact. Therefore, the aim of this paper was to examine the active learning as a didactic-methodical paradigm of contemporary teaching from the perspective of students and teachers in order to gain insights into its application and understanding in contemporary teaching. The theoretical part of this paper gives an overview of the various theoretical starting points and interdisciplinary approaches to active learning, as well as an explanation of the pluralism in its definition and understanding. The notion has been observed from various perspectives, including psychological and sociological approach, ecological approach, and humanistic and holistic approach that emphasize the overall development of a child. Additionally, special emphasis has been put on the pedagogical approach to active learning and its constructivist and socio-constructivist foundation. Moreover, in the theoretical part of the paper, the relationship of the active learning is contrasted with passive learning, its understanding of teaching strategies and methods, which is used the most widely in practice and has been proven to be a superficial approach that does not result in permanent and substantive changes. In this respect, the context of the active learning is defined and it is perceived as a theory of learning oriented towards the process and contrasted with the context of the educational polices that is being result- and product-oriented in its learning outcomes and the 21st century key competences. This dichotomy triggered the fundamental question in understanding of active learning, whether it is the learning theory (learning about learning) or the set of pedagogical strategies and methods that lead to learning – what it is in theoretical sense and how it is accomplished in practice. In this work the active learning, perceived as the didactic-methodical paradigm of contemporary teaching, acknowledges and reconciles these two relations, focusing on the element of creation of meaning as well as its practical activity. That means, in order for learning to truly happen, the creation of meaning must be related to activity (Watkins et al., 2007, Fink, 2013), which is reflected in its didactic-methodological determinants. In this context, it is emphasized that, in considering active learning as a didactic-methodical paradigm of modern teaching, it is crucial to start from the construction and the co-construction of knowledge, taking into account the individual and social aspect of learning, the metacognitive level of learning, and then create the didactic-methodological determinants of teaching accordingly (curriculum for active learning, stimulating environment, strategies and methods that encourage active learning, active learning continuum, etc.) in order to support and encourage the culture of active learning. The focused work field gave the answer to the question of the application and understanding of the active learning as a didactic-methodical paradigm of contemporary teaching from the perspectives of students and teachers. We have studied the differences between pupils and teachers in their assessing of the constructivist environments of active learning, its didactic-methodical determinants and teaching competences related to active learning, as well as the correlation of all measured variables of the research. We have also tested the contribution of (self-)assessment of teachers' competences and various dimensions of the didactic-methodological determinants of active learning in defining (various aspects) of the constructivist environment of active learning. The results of the research have shown that, in order to encourage active learning as a didactic-methodical paradigm of contemporary teaching from the students' perspective, extracurricular activities are particularly significant as an excellent complementary space for strengthening students' active learning competences, where students freely join and choose activities according to their interests and needs. The results have also shown that active learning as a didactic-methodical paradigm of contemporary teaching is more positively assessed by elementary school students than high school students, implying that the active learning should be continuously encouraged in practice, especially in high schools, when students are more mature for this kind of learning at more profound level. Furthermore, the professional training of teachers in the field of active learning has proven to be a key factor in stimulating and developing active learning as a didactic-methodical paradigm of contemporary teaching. These results have also pointed to the problem of organization, options and continuity of the professional training of teachers in the field of active learning, stating that 70.4% of teachers were involved in some form of professional training in the field of active learning, but it is still insufficiently represented in school practice. The results of the research also reveal great differences in assessments of active learning in favour of teachers, implying that students need greater incentives and support to make active learning become a part of their learning culture, for which dialogue and interaction between students and teachers is necessary, as well as their partnership in efforts to successfully implement it in the teaching process. At the end of the paper, predictors/forecasters of active learning were introduced, i.e. the authentic situations of active learning in the educational process from the perspectives of students and teachers were stated. The most significant of these has been creation of the stimulating environment of active learning, a focus on essential learning, and a reflection on the complexity and degree of active learning at the levels of its continuum. This paper has shown that active learning as a didactic-methodical paradigm of contemporary teaching is a very complex construct that requires profound changes in the educational practice. They have to start from the bottom, with teachers playing the key role in the implementation and development of active learning, but not neglecting the role of other stakeholders in the education and community. In this respect, the implementation of active learning should start at the very beginning of the schooling process, linking the whole process of education, which requires partnership at all levels of the educational system, networking between elementary and high schools, faculties, as well as initial teacher training, which requires a change in the overall culture of schooling, teaching and learning. Data obtained through this research can help teachers to better understand and apply active learning in practice, as well as to adapt and change the professional training programme on active learning practice offered to schools. Also, the obtained data can improve the instruction and teaching studies in order to promote greater use of active learning in the education of future teachers and stronger links with everyday school life and the contemporary trends in educational science. Constructed measuring instruments of active learning as a didactic-methodical paradigm of contemporary teaching within this research can be used to monitor the development of active learning in teaching practice. In general, the work contributes to a clearer view of the problem of active learning, both on the theoretical and practical level.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: active learning, students, constructivist environment, contemporary teaching, teaching competence
Subjects: Pedagogy
Departments: Department of Pedagogy
Supervisor: Buljubašić-Kuzmanović, Vesna
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij pedagogije
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2018 08:01
Last Modified: 25 Apr 2018 08:01

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