‘Provide good onboarding and explain why you teach this form of education’
Students Faith and Sander on inclusion and self-directed learning
Our education is changing. We are moving from supply-oriented, whole-class teaching to forms in which students take control of their own learning paths. But how inclusive is this self-directed learning? And how do we make it suitable for all students? These questions were at the centre of the latest Community of Practice (CoP) for Diversity, which students Faith Hulleman and Sander von Kriegenbergh also attended. Their advice? ‘Make sure you provide good onboarding and explain why you teach this form of education.’
Faith is a fourth-year Leisure & Events Management student. In her third year, she encountered self-directed learning for the first time. ‘It was a lab track from the Urban Leisure & Tourism Lab Rotterdam. It was about a city marketing issue to better promote Hoek van Holland as a seaside resort. I found it really hard because the scope of the assignment hadn’t been clearly defined. We had to do that ourselves and I was not used to that. I have always been big on structuring and planning and I really felt thrown in at the deep end.’
Advice on self-management
Sander recognises Faith’s story. ‘Not from my own experience, mind you. I’m a first-year Social Work student and I follow a traditional study programme. But I have been a student coach, and I know the experiences of first-year students struggling with the transition from secondary to higher professional education. I am also on the Self-Management Team, which conducts research into self-management and advises programmes on it. How can you equip students to self-manage their studies? What are the opportunities and pitfalls?’
Anyone can self-manage their studies, as long as enough guidance and tools are provided.
Getting the hang of it
In her fourth year, Faith had a much more positive experience with self-directed learning. ‘That was at the SLUISlab on Zeeburgereiland in Amsterdam. The issue we looked at was creating a good living environment for future residents of the Sluis neighbourhood. Just like with Hoek van Holland, we went to work with a team on location to interview people and design concepts using design thinking. Having been introduced to this way of learning the year before, I really got the hang of it this time round. I learned to let go and became aware that the development of concepts does not follow a fixed series of steps. The world is just not like that.’
Added value of self-directed learning
Faith now recognises the added value of self-directed learning in living labs. ‘I am being trained as an event manager, so I have to learn this way of working. Learning to listen to people you’re making plans for, such as residents, is also important, as is the ability to work in an interdisciplinary way. In addition, a track in a living lab shapes you as a person. It makes you more resilient and ensures you don’t immediately stress out when things are constantly changing.’
It’s actually a matter of learning to learn.
Learning to learn
For Sander, Faith’s experience at the SLUISLab sounds appealing. ‘The question is whether it’s suitable for all students,’ he says. However, Faith is convinced that self-directed learning and inclusive education can go hand in hand. ‘Anyone can do it, as long as enough guidance and tools are provided to develop yourself in self-managing your studies. Some need a bit more help and time than others.’ Sander nods. ‘So it’s actually a matter of learning to learn. You need to provide good onboarding and support to students to help them gain skills they can use to guide themselves.’
According to both students, it would be a good idea to introduce self-directed learning in steps by incorporating elements of it into traditional forms of education. ‘Otherwise, it’s too overwhelming, and students in a lab will lose their motivation,’ says Faith. Sander mentions another important point: ‘You should also explain why you’re offering this form of education. That self-directed learning will help you later in your professional practice, for example.’ Faith nods: ‘If you explain that, students will also be more likely to opt for a project in a living lab.’
Want to know more about this type of education?
If you want to know more about Inholland-wide lab tracks and minors where self-management is an important element, check them out here.
Missed the meeting?
Rewatch the meeting here.
The next meeting of the CoP for Diversity with the theme ‘an inclusive curriculum’ will take place on Thursday 15 June 2023 from 14.00 to 16.00. Get inspired by the various good practices! The meeting can be attended online by both students and colleagues. Interested? Register for the CoP now and you will receive an invitation to attend the meeting in due course.