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Through EDvolution, UPF is working to improve its teaching by means of preparation for future learning and productive failure

Through EDvolution, UPF is working to improve its teaching by means of preparation for future learning and productive failure

This academic year, the University has begun a series of sessions aimed at sharing and reflecting on how a research-intensive university also works on improving teaching from research and scientific evidence, under the EDvolution educational framework.

27.05.2022

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The “EDvolution Research” series sessions are given face-to-face and broadcast via streaming and are open to the entire university and educational community in general. At these sessions, teachers’ experiences are shared as well as educational research results on teaching, carried out at UPF or by external experts. It is coordinated by Davinia Hernández-Leo, commissioner for Research in Educational Innovation, and Manel Jiménez, vice-rector for Educational Transformation, Culture and Communication.

On 26 May, the second session was held, titled  “Preparatory activities for learning: the value of productive failure” by Manu Kapu, a professor at the ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, and director of The Future Learning Initiative (FLI).

Through EDvolution, UPF aims to improve its students’ learning, generating deeper, longer-lasting learning that is more engaged with society

In his conference, the speaker described his research on productive failure as “the preparation for learning and its implications in how we design productive learning environments, boosting innovation and creativity”. His talk revolved around the question “If learning from failure is intuitively attractive, how can we design it intentionally and steer it to achieve deep learning?”

Through EDvolution, UPF aims to improve its students’ learning, generating deeper, longer-lasting learning that is more engaged with society. One of the strategies being applied to achieve this is the design of tasks to prepare for learning.

The event was opened by UPF rector, Oriol Amat, who warned that “all universities must adapt to changes in the means of learning, otherwise in the not too distant future, they will lose the preeminent position they have traditionally held”. Meanwhile, Manel Jiménez added that “EDvolution is an ambitious programme involving the connection between teaching and research where everyone plays a role in this growth in improved teaching”.

Davinia Hernández-Leo: “educational research is offering more and more evidence on the relevance of preparatory tasks to achieve better learning” 

Finally, Davinia Hernández-Leo explained that “educational research is offering more and more evidence on the relevance of preparatory tasks to achieve better learning. The research being conducted within the framework of EDvolution also seeks to contribute to the generation and transfer of further knowledge along these lines”. These tasks, she assures, are the ones that are carried out before  the lecturer’s direct explanations or instruction. They normally involve the student’s activation of prior knowledge, the exploration of new ideas and the emergence of a confusion or productive failure, which will provide meaningful learning in future clarification and consolidation tasks.

Some examples of tasks to prepare for future learning are reading and watching videos, before the start of classroom sessions; identifying problems; reviewing examples or the understanding of concepts before working on them in class, responding to the flipped classroom methodology.

“We estimate that the subjects in the framework of EDvolution at UPF plan an average of 17% of students’ time dedicated to preparation tasks for learning. This figure is very similar to the hours devoted to instructive classes or lectures, with an average of 18.4% of the student’s time in the subject”, Hernández-Leo comments.

D'esquerra a dreta: Davinia Hernández-Leo, Elisabeth Moyano, Laura Becerra-Fajardo, i Óliver Pérez

The experiences of teaching staff that use preparation for future learning techniques

The session also involved the experiences of UPF teaching staff who use activities to prepare for future learning in the subjects they teach, including Oriol Amat, as a lecturer with the Department of Economics and Business; Montse Cunillera, of the Department of Translation and Language Sciences; Óliver Pérez, of the Department of Communication; Elisabeth Moyano, of the Department of Medicine and Life Sciences, and Laura Becerra-Fajardo, of the Department of Information and Communication Technologies.

They all explained how they use preparation for future learning tasks, with examples that improve group sentiment, raise awareness of what needs to be learned, student motivation and attention.

The initiative is an activity of the recently created UPF Learning Lab, a centre that aims to provide a nucleus for coordinating interdisciplinary research in teaching and learning at the University, contributing to its research and teaching excellence and facilitating the transfer of this knowledge to the University itself and to society.

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