Socialisation and Contextualisation: Methods for Advancing the Teaching and Learning Experience in Higher Education

Tim McLernon
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This presentation examines the precepts that social interaction and context are key components of learning in higher education and proposes that a studio learning environment and ‘inverting the curriculum’ would enhance the teaching and learning experiences. The presentation analyses the ‘traditional’ teaching methods of higher education, questions the strict adherence to a content-based curriculum, and argues that these factors are not best suited to the optimal attainment of relevant learning outcomes. The paper constructs a standpoint to question whether the correct learning environment prevails in higher education institutions to make the teaching and learning experience an enjoyable and self-motivating one and to promote the achievement of the necessary learning outcomes and the requisite educational standards demanded by society and employers. The narrative defines by example what the author means by the terms ‘inverting the curriculum’ and ‘studio culture’ and poses questions and suggestions rather than arriving at definite conclusions. The author uses two selected readings on which to construct the standpoint from which the propositions are put. The background to, and the rationale for, this presentation, comes from an involvement some years ago by the author in adventure-based experiential education. It was clear from this experience that people are more motivated to learn when they are deriving enjoyment from activities. The catalyst for enjoyment seems to involve two factors: 1. Social interaction and 2. Activities which challenge the individual, but which are designed to be attainable.

Based on these experiences and observations, this presentation suggests methods which make the teaching and learning experience more fun and enjoyable for both students and teachers, and which help students to develop learning techniques based on natural enquiry.

Keywords: Context, Social interaction, Higher education, Effective education, Enjoyment and fun, Self-motivation, Studio culture, Inverting the curriculum
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Socialisation and Contextualisation

Tim McLernon

Teaching and Learning Co-ordinator, Faculty of Engineering, University of Ulster

I have been involved in higher education for twenty years and like to think that education should be an enjoyable experience for both teachers and students. My background is as a Chartered Surveyor and Chartered Builder with disciplinary specialisms in Building Conservation and Construction Law.

As an academic, my research interests include: how students learn; the learning environment; and the impact of educational policy on education practice. I believe that social interaction and context are key ingredients in the education mix. Higher education policy over the past decade has resulted in a shift towards efficiency, at the cost of effectiveness.

Ref: I06P0438