In this issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences, authors from Denmark, the United States, Taiwan and the United Kingdom analyse serendipity in anthropology teaching, the use of lecture videos in political science, peer dialogue in education studies, polarisation anxiety among social science students and active learning in criminology.
Teaching anthropology through serendipitous cultural exchanges
Serendipity should not be restricted to cutting-edge science and research alone. A proactive approach to the unexpected can also strengthen classes in anthropology and the humanities. But how can you teach if classes are influenced by accidental arrangements and discoveries not sought or considered? I shall tap into two projects of teaching-by-serendipity through indirect cultural exchanges. The two projects in question were named Minestrone Stories, referring to the Italian minestrone soup, usually made of the vegetables available and thereby providing each village in Italy with its own variant. However, the two ‘Minestrone soups’ in question included more ingredients. The teaching-by-serendipity projects targeted what students, teachers and citizens in confined areas of Copenhagen had available, inciting them to indirectly exchange vegetables, songs, services and stories with each other, thus stirring them together. In this article, I reflect on how this stirring provoked an unusual teaching experience and moments of unexpected learning.
Thomas J. Eveland
A response to programme reform in higher education
Saran Stewart, Chayla Haynes, and Kristin Deal
This article explores how three doctoral candidates enrolled in the discipline of Higher Education gained an understanding of social justice, equity-mindedness and diversity in the academy. Prior to the admission of these three students, two faculty members had reformed the doctoral programme to align it with the principles of inclusive pedagogy. They created a conceptual framework for the redesign of the programme's mission, curriculum and pedagogy. Echoing an article that those faculty members wrote about the programme, the authors use a collaborative autoethnographic approach to share their experiences of the programme. Just as the faculty members engaged in a fictitious dialogue with their source of inspiration, bell hooks, the authors engage in a conversation with the programme chair about their pursuit of education as the practice of freedom.
Student perspectives on the risks of fast-track degree completion
Laura Louise Sarauw and Simon Ryberg Madsen
Studies often highlight how standardisation and consent are manufactured through the European Bologna Process (; ; ). This article shows how students’ conduct is still governed by multiple logics and dilemmas. The context for the article is the Bologna Process and the way it has been applied by the Danish government in the 2014 reforms that sought to fast-track the completion of student degrees. It analyses the impact of changes on students’ conduct through a series of focus group interviews with students who were confronted with the new demands to speed up their progress through their degrees. To illustrate the complexity of this standardisation, the analyses are framed within theoretical ideas of ‘risk’ () and ‘translation’ ().
Joost Beuving and Geert de Vries
This article discusses how the teaching of qualitative research in higher education is threatened by the effects of new public management, by academic culture wars and by a growing belief in big data. The controversy over Alice Goffman's book On the Run presents one recent example of this. In an effort to counterbalance these developments, this article stresses the importance in social science curricula of ‘naturalistic inquiry’ – the artisanal core of qualitative research. Explicitly acknowledging emic viewpoints, naturalistic inquiry upholds the emancipatory ideal of making society transparent to its members. Teaching naturalistic inquiry as a craft may be the best way to assure ‘qualitative literacy’ among graduates in their various careers as socially responsible professionals.
Socrative is an online platform that allows a teacher to put questions to students through an app on their smart phone or tablet. In existence since 2011, its use is now quite common in university teaching. But is Socrative any good? This article reviews the literature on the device and discusses my research on the use of the app, the first carried out with social science students. The secondary research findings are that students find Socrative easy to use, fun, of genuine benefit to their learning and a medium that aids active participation. Furthermore, there is evidence that it benefits attainment as testing helps memory retention. My research findings broadly concur. Also considered is how Socrative use can be extended beyond revision-style testing to introduce students to new information that challenges existing beliefs and to elicit controversial opinions and sensitive information.
Sarah B. Rodriguez
Global health programmes have become quite popular within universities in the United States. But despite the growth in undergraduate programming in global health, the training of American undergraduates to ensure they engage ethically when conducting research in a low- or middle-income country has not followed. I teach a course in global bioethics and developed the board game described in this article as a means of engaging students in active, peer-to-peer learning about ethical challenges, questions and concerns during the research planning process, while students are working abroad in unfamiliar contexts or upon return to their home university once their data collection is completed. The game is intended for students to apply what they learned regarding global bioethical practice.
Eva Infante Mora, Davydd J. Greenwood, and Melina Ivanchikova
This special issue is devoted to a study of an action research-based reform of a US university study abroad programme to make it a genuine intercultural immersion experience. The four-year collaborative reform process combined participatory organisational redesign, the development of a comprehensive active learning approach and the teaching of intercultural competence through ethnographic immersion and community engagement in Seville, Spain. The case is an example of the development of intercultural competencies through guided behavioural change, of action research to reform higher education programmes and of active learning combined with formative and summative evaluation. The reader will learn about the experiences of the staff, faculty and mentors in the Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA)-Sevilla study abroad programme and those of the sponsoring US universities as they together achieved a fundamental reform of a decades-old study abroad immersion programme. This special issue has many authors because this was a collaborative action-research project with continuous group work and brainstorming. The authors’ names are placed in the sections where the authorship is clear, but, as befits a collaboration, many of the ideas are the result of the combined thinking of all the authors. Authorship of the various sections has been allocated mainly to clarify for readers the most relevant author to contact to learn more about particular dimensions of the process. The guest editors took on the editorial duties on behalf of this larger group.