Improving academic success through service-learning

Improving academic success through service-learning Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Taisir Subhi Yamin St John’s University, USA, The HETL Association, USA and the International Centre for Innovaton in Education At the George Washington University geography students enrolled in an urban sustainability course worked with the Anacostia Watershed Society to help restore and sustain the Anacostia River ecosystem. At the University of Wisconsin students worked with Habitat for Humanity to construct housing for low-income families. In addition to tertiary education, service-learning is also used at the primary and secondary school levels, for example, by drawing on National Geographic resources to help students in an earth science course in New York City to think more like scientists by engaging them in real-world watershed sustainability initiatives.  These are just a few examples of the many different types of service-learning projects that students are engaged in at different academic institutions. Service-learning defined Service-learning is a teaching strategy, a learning activity [...]

Creating inclusive curricula in higher education

Creating inclusive curricula in higher education Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Mandla Makhanya St John’s University, USA, The HETL Association, USA and The University of South Africa The ongoing development, growth and stability of modern economic and democratic systems require that people engage in continual education and training throughout the course of their lives – that is, lifelong and lifewide learning. As a result of this contemporary reality, higher education systems around the world, including both formal and non-formal types of learning, have experienced unprecedented change in the past few decades in the areas of democratisation, internationalisation and treating lifelong learning as a human right. These changes have been driven by underlying factors such as social movements, economic forces, legal reforms, technological innovation and changing student needs and demographics. The changes have brought with them a renewed focus on inclusion and equity as paramount issues in the shifting paradigm of higher education. The increased attention to equity and inclusion have, in turn, led [...]

Humanising higher education via inclusive leadership

The demand for higher education of all types is at an all-time high. As the world becomes more integrated and interdependent through the processes of globalisation and internationalisation and more driven by and dependent on advanced knowledge, skills and competencies, lifelong learning has not only become a necessity for economic development and social progress, but it is now recognised as a human right.

Higher education for a sustainable future

Higher education for a sustainable future Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta, and Taisir Subhi Yamin St John’s University, New York City, USA, The American University of Kurdistan, and The International Centre for Innovation in Education For much of human history people used renewable resources to provide the basic energy needed for eating, trading, transporting and simple social development (for example, wind and water for milling and seafaring as well as biomass for heating, cooking and shelter). In other words, in pre-industrial societies, humans, out of the need for survival, learned how to adapt their ways of life to fit the natural rhythms and conditions of their environment. Then, with the advent of the industrial revolution, societies began to use fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) on a large scale to drive the growth of mass production systems and international trade.  With the advent of post-industrial societies over the past 200 years, [...]

The inquiry-based approach to higher ed that could prevent college students from dropping out

The inquiry-based approach to higher ed that could prevent college students from dropping out Patrick Blessinger St John’s University, New York City, USA   There may be a more democratic way of learning than declaring a traditional college major. A growing body of research-based evidence shows that student learning communities (SLCs) can provide an effective path to increased academic achievement as well as student engagement and retention. Student learning communities are curricular programs designed by faculty and instructional design staff working together with a group of students. These students (known as “the cohort”) take a shared set of courses that are usually connected by a common theme or overarching set of questions or learning outcomes – a key feature of inquiry-based learning. Any educational institution such as a school or college or university is, by definition, a learning community. However, in a traditional program of study, the courses students take often seem not to [...]

A higher ideal for higher education

A higher ideal for higher education Patrick Blessinger St John’s University, New York City, USA Higher education is in the midst of a revolution. The number of students participating in higher education worldwide is expected to grow from 28 million in 1970 to 262 million by 2025. This growth rate represents an immense increase in the global demand for higher education. This demand has been fueled by far-reaching political, economic, social, and technological changes, including legal reforms, economic competition, social movements, and technological innovations. The increasing demand for higher education suggests that as nations become more globalised and democratised, more people participate in higher education of all types to equip themselves with the knowledge and skills needed to better function and compete in an increasingly globalised and complex world. Governments and higher education institutions have responded to these changes by implementing new models to provision and delivery education, creating new academic programs and student services, developing internationalisation strategies and global research partnerships, and forging new inter-institutional teaching and learning collaborations. As a result, higher education has moved, over [...]

The shifting paradigm of higher education

The shifting paradigm of higher education Patrick Blessinger, Shai Reshef and Enakshi Sengupta St John’s University, New York City, USA, The University of the People, USA, and The American University of Kurdistan The word paradigm comes from the Greek meaning framework or example. Thus, broadly defined, a paradigm is a related set of concepts and practices (that is, a mode of inquiry together with the related theories, principles, models, taxonomies, methods, rules and assumptions) that define and provide the example of or the framework for a given knowledge domain (science, humanities, art) and discipline and field.  So, from an educational perspective, at the domain level, there is the scientific paradigm, the humanistic paradigm and the artistic paradigm. Fields are particular areas of study within a discipline, or that cut across several disciplines, and they are usually centred on applied knowledge (for example, professions, careers or occupations). It is typically from fields that communities of practice emerge. Many [...]

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