rather than her thinking processes. In contrast, accessing content or domain knowledge may well be critical for learning, but it is only the first step in and not the end of learning. Instead, content is merely the fuel that powers the motivation for meaningful learning.
The change from passive learning to active learning will obviously challenge the student as well. Students are used to straightforward didactic teaching and comfortable with problems that have clear cut solutions. The competency approach, however, requires the student to navigate through a messy world of incomplete information shot through with ambiguities. In the real world, one frequently has to try to make sense of such information.
In order to implement this competency-based pedagogical approach successfully, there is then a need to establish a new set of expectations for students. It is important for them to understand what they need to do as active learners. To make the transition as smooth as possible, it is important to provide a comprehensive course syllabus which explains the motivation for a flipped classroom with a competency-based course design. In addition, it should also contain guidelines on how to perform well in the course and highlight new expectations on self-regulated learning, collaborative work, and active engagement in class. For the course mentioned, an interactive e-book accessible online was designed to explain the rationale of the course design and set the expectations of how active learners were to be responsible for self-learning and collaborative learning. This e-book also contained detailed explanations on each assessment rubric used for grading student performance, which were the guidelines on how to perform well in said course. Finally, it also provided clickable links to the Internet as suggestions for information search.
This paper shows how a competency-based approach may be adopted in designing a flipped classroom to teach a sustainability course in an undergraduate program. The theoretical foundations that underpin the course design are discussed. They demonstrate how the three main components of said approach are tightly linked to one another, i.e., how specific learning outcomes are achieved through specially designed learning activities, and how these activities are evaluated using rubrics, which clearly define specific student behaviours that can be observed. These observable behaviours are the measure of the extent to which students achieve the specified learning outcomes.
Adopting this pedagogical approach could challenge both instructor and learner because it involves a wholesale re-examination of the meanings of teaching and learning and, pari passu, of instructor and learner. In order for both parties to benefit from the approach, a paradigm shift in one’s mental model of teaching and learning is called for. That is, the giver-and-receiver model is put away in favour of a fellow-explorer model that emphasizes out-of-class self- regulated learning, peer-assisted learning, and team-based collaborative learning. Content knowledge and insights thus garnered are actively shared by students within the flipped classroom itself, where the instructor plays the role of coach, offering guidance, motivating discussion, and gives timely feedback, when appropriate. This model calls for a lot more work on the part of both student and instructor but the active learning it engenders makes it worth the while.
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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