This book addresses student diversity as a specific challenge that many higher educational planners and educators face when working with problem-based learning-approaches (PBL) to teaching classes and supervising group work. It builds on an applied research project which studied student diversity in two master programmes (MPs) at Aalborg University (AAU): the MA in Social Work (SW) and the MA in Learning and Change Processes (LCP). The study was carried out in 2016-2017 and was based on focus group interviews with students and single interviews with educators and programme planners at the two programmes (Engen et al. 2018, Engen et al. 2017). The research project showed that student diversity in the form of different pre-acquisitions, educational backgrounds and experiences often pose a challenge to educators, when affecting the learning environment in the classroom negatively. This type of diversity also seems to cause frustration and confusion among the students, rather than igniting curiosity and exploration (Engen et al. 2018). Our main claim in this booklet is that the potentials of student diversity for learning can only be realised, if the students develop skills in handling differences in collaborative problem identification and –solving. Furthermore, they can only do so, if they are supported by the educators, supervisors and the whole program set-up in the PBL-courses. Accordingly, the aim in this booklet is:
1) to present theoretical perspectives that may help educators understand, how diversity can be both a driver and a barrier for learning in PBL-based settings in higher education.2) to provide recommendations and pedagogical tools on how to develop PBL as a framework in teaching and supervision in order to raise learning potentials in diverse student groups.
|Research in Higher Education Practices