Building partnerships for reflection through technologically facilitated iterative processes: An Iterative Practice Approach (IPA) in higher education

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


In a rapidly changing and risky world, and through the availability of new information and communication technologies (ICT), education becomes less about conveying knowledge and more about enabling students to develop their own competences for navigating this world (e.g. Schwendimann, Kappeler, Mauroux, & Gurtner, 2018). This certainly holds true for all phases of the educational process; in higher education, however, the development of these competences has a certain urge: higher education prepares students for a professional career, in which they will need to navigate challenges and balance dilemmas based on the (reflective) competences they have developed in particular during their tertiary education. As for that, higher education plays a crucial role in facilitating students to become educated professionals, including being competent in dealing with problem-, information- and conflict management (Griffioen & de Jong, 2014) . The facilitation and development of such – new – competences requires rethinking the instructional formats used for that. The use of digital tools and arrangements comes in here, naturally, because such tools are a) a part of students’ and teachers’ everyday life and b) provide possibilities to flexibly enrich facilitation processes (Bower, 2017). However, digital tools per se are not the answer for this challenge. They need to be used in a way that enables meaningful interactions and adapt to students’ development over time. Iterating this developmental process between design and development may provide a fruitful approach (Järvinen, 2007). Highly unnoticed, however, is the fact that not only students, but also facilitators/teachers need to understand the affordances of those tools in order to interact iteratively with students’ learning products (Yancey 2009). This is so because when students complete tasks that yield new information, facilitators/teachers need to know how to infuse this into ongoing teaching and what impulses this could provide in the next step of the iteration process. With that, instances of ‘micro action research cycles’ are taking place on the facilitators’ sides, where iterations by students are complemented with iterations on the research and intervention design. This triggers a “dialectic action research spiral” (Mills, 2011, p. 20), which supports co-creative process between students and facilitators/teachers. We call this an Iterative Practice Approach (IPA). The advantages of IPA are obvious: adaptive and iterative procedures allow to address learning processes in a dynamic and individual form, which support acts of meaning making and identity construction (Schwonke et al. 2005). Also, they allow to accommodate students’ individual needs and trajectories (Kolmos, Fink & Krogh 2004). However, although substantiated by arguments, empirical evidence is needed on the forms, quality and processes that can – or cannot – take place when facilitating students’ reflections iteratively. The resulting research question therefore is: How can such a co-creative pedagogy be developed through iterative processes utilizing ICTs? To answer this question, in the following we will present findings from an on-going research project on the use of digital tools for reflective competence development, which takes place at a major Danish university.
Period6 Sep 2019
Event titleECER
Event typeConference
LocationHamborg, GermanyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Professional competence
  • Higher Education
  • Co-construction
  • Student engagement
  • Iterative processes