Teaching to create ‘’wicked’’ students was the topic of the kick-off keynote session for Day 2 of the Education Festival by Dr. Paul Hanstedt, author of ‘’Creating Wicked Students’’. While many in education have by now heard the discussion around interdisciplinary learning, challenge or phenomenon-based teaching strategies, or simply the rigid silos that exist within the structures of the modern-day university, Day 2 of the UG’s education festival highlighted the concrete--and inspiring--actions being taken across the university on these topics.
As the day’s theme focused on interdisciplinary teaching and learning, Dr. Hanstedt’s talk gave an inspiring beginning to the day’s presentations and themes. With a focus on developing students that are able to take on the complex (‘’wicked’’) challenges of the current and future world, teaching ideas were discussed and followed up on throughout the day. Though not entirely intentional, themes from UG teachers consistently followed the same ideas of the opening talk like a carefully curated framework. What was clear throughout the day was that if you agree with Dr. Hanstedt’s assertion that university courses should contain more interdisciplinary complexity to represent a complex world, the UG can be quite proud of its teachers!
Perhaps a bit surprising, yet most refreshing, was the central role students and their perspective took on throughout the day. Whether in the presentation of UCG’s projects throughout all years of their curriculum, the experiences presented by students in interdisciplinary courses, the rebuilding of education in Honours College masterclasses, or the improvement of communication and leadership skills in both law and medical education, it was clear that in interdisciplinary teaching, the students take center stage.
Dr. Hanstedt would likely concur with this conclusion. Following his persuasive reasoning to make students more ready to tackle complex issues, he provided clear examples of teaching and assessment. Even more clear was the role projects and project-based learning could play a role in creating authentic, relevant, and motivating assessment.
For instructors looking for more ‘’how-to’’ ideas in teaching, there was plenty of that throughout the day as well--and featured a large number of University College teachers who have been experimenting, utilizing, and leading these strategies for quite some time. Bettina van Hoven and Dave Beynon were on hand to dive deep into the project learning their students do in all years and they provided interesting examples that could be of use to any teachers. Interdisciplinary course design was featured by Maria Ioannou, Adriana Mattos, and Alette Smeulers as they described the process of initial excitement, subsequent challenges, and concrete solutions they came up with in their courses ‘Love’ and ‘War’. Surely Lise Jans would agree with them as she discussed these same realities and inspirations in creating interdisciplinary courses on the topic of sustainability.
For other teachers looking for guidance in interdisciplinary teaching, a lot of experts clearly exist on the UG campus. So, give them a shout and don’t worry if you’re from a different faculty--just tell them it’s for interdisciplinary reasons! Looking for more descriptions of the sessions mentioned here and want to check out the programme the rest of the week? You can check out the programme!
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