Challenging the pitfalls of traditionalist quagmire: … in between ideals of progressive teaching and learning and obscure pitfalls of traditional university practice.

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


The aim of this presentation is to critically explore what often becomes black-boxed in our daily practice, namely the quagmire of more traditionalist approaches to teaching and learning in a progressive university setting. This implies, for instance, the challenges we might face when assessing students’ work within a context of regarding students as researchers, without fully having taken the leap to acknowledge what this entails in terms of relevant assessment criteria. Concretely, this is from where our curiosity stems.

Roskilde University (RUC) explicitly employs a problem-oriented project work (PPL) approach; this entails that 50% of the students’ curriculum is anchored in their own projects and experiments, the semester projects - with the qualified support and aid from supervisors. Among other things, the model explicitly positions students as researchers in their own right which correlates well with RUC’s emphasis on facilitating innovation and contributing to solving complex societal problems. In other words, students are expected to not only acquire knowledge, but to contribute to knowledge production. Ideally, there is a constructive alignment between the expected learning outcomes, the teaching activities and the assessment criteria that the students’ projects are evaluated on in the exams.

The paper will take its starting point in a vignette from our own practice and analyse the problems it presents, in order to, hopefully, contribute to an exploration of challenges of potential (mis)alignment and (un)clarity within our practices. It presents a case where a discrepancy between what is valued by the internal examiner and the external examiner in relation to assessing the students’ work becomes evident; a discrepancy between what is considered an exemplary project from a PPL perspective vs. what is valued in a more traditionalist curriculum- and test-based academic practice. This discrepancy has consequences not only for the concrete assessment of students’ work, but also for the overall exam experience for all participants - as well as for the validity of the PPL framework.

Superficial analyses of the challenges we encounter often point the arrow elsewhere; towards external examiners, or e.g. the government requirements for higher education. However, regardless of our progressive ideals for how to orchestrate university teaching and learning, we may fall prey of disregarding aspects of our practices that impede the very ideals that we are striving towards, and we need to facilitate joint spaces to critically explore and acknowledge this problem - as a way to move forward.
StatusUdgivet - 2019
BegivenhedConference Critical Edge Alliance 2019: Boundary Crossings in Culture, Power, and Experience: Re-imagining Higher Education - The New School , New York, USA
Varighed: 6 jun. 20198 jun. 2019


KonferenceConference Critical Edge Alliance 2019
LokationThe New School
ByNew York
AndetThe purpose of the conference is to explore contemporary issues around boundary crossing, as they relate to universities and learning, broadly conceived.<br/><br/>​This conference is dedicated to the memory of our colleague Professor L.H.M. “Lily” Ling, a founding member of the Critical Edge Alliance, who tragically passed away last year. The conference is designed in the spirit of Ling’s Silk Road Research Initiative, a research collective that pursued the re-imagination of world politics.<br/><br/>As part of that work, students and faculty from The New School (New York, NY) organized in 2013 around a shared vision: to transform the foundation that underpins today’s international system by thinking creatively about world politics.

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