Theories and methods
The SCA process has been developed by teachers and educational developers at KTH to allow teachers to work systematically with course development.
The aim with the development has been to create a process with the potential to continuously:
- Stimulate a meaningful exchange of ideas between teachers,
- Contribute to improved quality in student learning,
- Enable students to give feedback that can be converted into course development that promotes learning, and
- Inspire and encourage teachers to find new ways of developing their professional roles.
The aims above are achieved by LEQ focusing on a more overarching perspective on teaching and learning in the form of the learning environment of the course. What is meant by the learning environment of the course is the physical, social, and cultural context in which the student’s learning takes place. LEQ investigates the student’s experience of the learning environment based on a number of learning factors which, according to research and tried and tested experience, have proved to promote learning in higher education. An example of one such learning factor is that we tend to learn more effectively if we can collaborate and discuss with others.
By mapping the learning environment of the course from a number of learning factors, the teacher can both identify stronger and weaker aspects of the learning environment, and carry on a dialogue with other teachers about how various aspects of the learning environment could be developed in order to support the students’ learning. This also entails an opportunity to identify individual or general needs for competency development, which can be satisfied through different types of courses, seminars, or workshops. At the same time, the fact that the questionnaire is based on learning factors makes it easier for the student to give feedback that can be converted into course development that encourages learning.
A primary aim of LEQ is to stimulate a meaningful exchange of experience between teachers, not to grade the teacher as a person or the form of teaching as such. Rather, the intention is to support a community of practice for teachers. In a community of practice, a teacher develops his/her teaching skill by exchanging experience regularly with other teachers who share an interest in teaching and learning. It is important to note that it is the individual teacher who decides which aspects of the learning environment should be given priority in a development effort, and how the development is to be implemented in the context in question. Since a given aspect may be developed in many different ways, each teacher is free to develop in his/her own way and at his/her own pace.
Different ways of developing a given aspect of the learning environment will have different significance for the students’ learning, and the way that best encourages learning always depends on the specific context. It is therefore the students’ examination results that determine whether a change is favorable to learning or not, and to what extent. Nevertheless, LEQ makes it easier for the teacher to pursue course development that promotes student learning, which students’ examination results typically do not do.
1 See Bain (2004) for an introduction to natural learning environments and learning factors in higher education
2 See Wenger-Trayner (2007) for a brief introduction to learning in communities of practice