The Sahlgrenska Academy has been running the project LearnAble since 2004, supported by the Council for the Renewal of Higher Education, to develop university teacher training, while at the same time introducing students to a research-based approach. Training students at an early stage in this method of working is a key aspect of the Bologna process, the higher education reform aimed at creating a common European higher education area.
¬“Previous studies show that a well-planned and stimulating introduction to higher education offers students a better foundation for learning,” says Senior Lecturer Karin Kjellgren, Project Manager for LearnAble.
The purpose of the LearnAble concept is for both teachers and students to acquire new knowledge, and the course’s sub-heading is Learning to learn and learning to teach. This means that alongside an introductory course for students, there is a course for teachers in university teaching skills, with an emphasis on guidance in the student course. The course offers the students tools to enable them to pursue university studies, as well as training in database searching, statistics, informatics, communication skills, scientific theory and ethics. The teachers are offered training in teaching skills, didactics, computer-assisted learning, tutoring and evaluation, while at the same time supervising small groups of students.
The project has been successful, and two research articles on LearnAble have been published in the Journal of Further and Higher Education and in Medical Teacher. The results show that the teachers appreciated being given the opportunity to supervise students within the framework of the teacher-training course.
“It gave the teachers the opportunity to practice, evaluate and discuss their teaching in a real situation with students, colleagues and other teachers on the course,” says Karin Kjellgren.
And for the students, the evaluation reveals that a more in-depth approach to their studies was linked to older age-groups, and that female students found it easier to take the teaching on board.
“The evaluation also showed that teachers with previous teacher training encouraged the students to be more questioning in their studies,” says Karin Kjellgren.
The project phase of LearnAble has now been completed, and the course is now one of the courses offered by the Sahlgrenska Academy. Since the start four years ago, 849 students and 68 teachers have taken part.
Journal: Journal of Further and Higher Education 2008;32:47-54
Title of the article: Scaffolding students’ transition to higher education: Parallel introductory courses for students and teachers
Authors: John Hultberg, Kaety Plos, Graham Hendry and Karin Kjellgren
Journal: Medical Teacher 2008;30:e239–e245
Title of the article: Learning to learn and learning to teach – Introduction to studies in higher education
Authors: Karin Kjellgren, Graham Hendry, John Hultberg, Kaety Plos, Martin Rydmark, Gunnar Tobin and Roger Säljö