How do students see the connections among undergraduate courses?

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Paper presented at the 2013 Annual Conference of the Society for Research Into Higher Education in Newport, Wales on Dec 12, 2013.

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How do students see the connections among undergraduate courses?

  1. 1. How do students see the connections among undergraduate courses? Using concept mapping to make interdisciplinarity visible Paulo Correia, Camila Cicuto & Joana Aguiar Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil
  2. 2. Interdisciplinarity Why? When? How?
  3. 3. Interdisciplinarity Real-world problems in classroom: Why? Professional skills • Complex scenarios must be addressed by teams • “The right answer” is replaced by “the best choice” • Holistic view enriches the specific professional knowledge
  4. 4. Interdisciplinarity Real-world problems in classroom: When? Curricular planning • Formally program interdisciplinary experiences • Academics have an active role as planners • Students are submitted to the planned curriculum
  5. 5. Interdisciplinarity Real-world problems in classroom: How? [1] Epistemological challenge • Amount of information (disciplinary fields) Communicational challenge • Productive collaborative work (synergy)
  6. 6. Interdisciplinarity Real-world problems in classroom: How? [2] Instructional planning • Methods must avoid cognitive overload • Information processing is limited by our working memory • Cognitive resources must be available to build & automatize schemas
  7. 7. Interdisciplinarity Real-world problems in classroom: How? [3] Instructional planning
  8. 8. Novakian Cmaps Visible information Team work Hierarchical reductionism Hyperlinked Cmaps
  9. 9. Novakian Cmaps Visible information represented into a propositional framework [1] • Initial Concept  Linking Phrase  Final Concept • Interdisciplinary  ???  Higher Education (HE) • Interdisciplinary  is critical to improve  HE • Interdisciplinary  is not critical to improve  HE • Interdisciplinary  may be critical to improve  HE
  10. 10. Novakian Cmaps Visible information represented into a propositional framework [2] • Several uses in higher education to improve teaching and learning
  11. 11. Novakian Cmaps Visible information represented into a propositional framework [3] • Pedagogic resonance: the degree of mismatch between teacher’s expert knowledge and students’ learning
  12. 12. Novakian Cmaps Team work • Externalization, elicitation & consensus building • Conceptual relationships visible to all, all the time
  13. 13. Novakian Cmaps Hierarchical reductionism • Complex systems described using a hierarchy of organisations, each of which is only described in terms of (few) objects (concepts) one level down in the hierarchy. Dawkins, R. (1996). The blind watchmaker: Why the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design . New York: Norton
  14. 14. Novakian Cmaps Hyperlinked Cmaps • Complex systems represented by a set of Cmaps • Vertical links between Cmaps in different hierarchical levels • Horizontal links between Cmaps at the same hierarchical level • Addition of any digital resources attached to Cmaps
  15. 15. Vertical Links Horizontal Links
  16. 16. Our aims Check how students perceive interdisciplinarity • Develop an interdisciplinary activity  Students construct hyperlinked Cmaps (n=7) • Horizontal Links between Cmaps reveal students’ perception  Concurrent effect  Same culture effect
  17. 17. Empirical research Settings Case study
  18. 18. Settings School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities (USP) Basic Cycle courses (n=6): concurrent courses • NS: Natural Sciences (1st/SCI) • DTIA: Data Treatment and Information Analysis (1st/SCI) • SMR: Society, Multiculturalism and Rights (1st/HUM) • PECI: Psych, Education and Contemporary Issues (2nd/HUM) • SEC: Society, Environment and Citizenship (2nd/HUM) • BACL: Brazilian Art, Culture and Literature (2nd/HUM)
  19. 19. Settings School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities (USP) Basic Cycle courses (n=6): same culture courses • NS: Natural Sciences (1st/SCI) • DTIA: Data Treatment and Information Analysis (1st/SCI) • SMR: Society, Multiculturalism and Rights (1st/HUM) • PECI: Psych, Education and Contemporary Issues (2nd/HUM) • SEC: Society, Environment and Citizenship (2nd/HUM) • BACL: Brazilian Art, Culture and Literature (2nd/HUM)
  20. 20. Case study First-year higher-education students (n=52) • Three groups (16-18 students) • Three sets of linked Cmaps (n=7) Vertical Links Horizontal Links
  21. 21. Results & Discussion Horizontal links (n=118) • Each course • Concurrent courses • Same culture courses
  22. 22. Horizontal links Each course • Values: 15.7-22.5% • DTIA: 2-3x lower  Specific content
  23. 23. Horizontal links Concurrent [1] • Total %
  24. 24. Horizontal links Concurrent [2] • Same smt: 12% • Different smt: 3% • Concurrent effect: 4x
  25. 25. Horizontal links Same culture [1] • Total %
  26. 26. Horizontal links Same culture [2] • Same clt: 8.6% • Different clt: 4.4% • Same culture effect: 2x
  27. 27. Level-1 Cmap
  28. 28. Level-2 Cmap
  29. 29. Conclusions Classroom procedure Students’ perception Future research
  30. 30. Classroom procedure Hyperlinked Cmaps + hierarchical reductionism allowed students to • Deal with lots of information • Increase group synergy Activities for interdisciplinary purposes must be • Included in curriculum • Structured to reduce cognitive load & foster team work
  31. 31. Students’ perception Only DTIA was disconnected from Basic Cycle courses • Specific content involving statistics Concurrent effect • Courses offered simultaneously presented 4x more links Culture effect • Courses from the same knowledge area presented 2x more links
  32. 32. Future research Check students’ perception after the Basic Cycle • Students at the beginning vs end of curriculum Compare perceptions about the Basic Cycle • Academics’ expectations vs students’ perception • Visible information makes possible the pedagogic resonance for planning the curriculum • Inputs from students’ perception are valuable information to curriculum planners
  33. 33. Acknowledgments
  34. 34. Invitation www.cmc2014.com.br Paulo R M Correia Universidade de São Paulo about.me/prmcorreia prmc@usp.br 12-dec-13

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