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Title: Pedagogical practices in higher education: improving students’ competences through cross-curricular problem-solving activities
Author: Calvão, Ana Rita
Ribeiro, Sílvia
Simões, Anabela
Keywords: Higher education
Cross-curricular projects
Office management
Business communication
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: IATED
Abstract: Similarly to its European counterparts, Portugal’s Higher Education system has undergone profound changes as a result of the Bologna Process. Even though some difficulties in the adaptation to new teaching-learning practices have been reported (Leite & Ramos, 2014; Sweetman, 2017), at the School of Technology and Management of the University of Aveiro the required paradigm shift in education has been implemented, namely through problem-based learning activities and, consequently, through competences aggregation between different curricular units (CU) (Oliveira, 2011), a methodology that implies the articulation between concomitant courses of a study programme. Since 2016/2017, cross-curricular problem-solving projects are being developed within the 1st cycle degree in Office Management and Business Communication: Electronic Office Applications II (EOAII) articulates with Portuguese II (PII) (2nd semester courses) and Data Analysis (DA) articulates with Secretarial Techniques II (STII) (3rd semester courses). 64 students from 3 different classes have been involved. Within the 2nd semester project, two practical assignments were requested: in the first one, students produced and presented a monograph and a scientific poster; in their second assignment, they prepared a labour market integration portfolio. For the accomplishment of both tasks, competences underlying the two associated CUs converged: in PII students acquired research and information selection skills, as well as structuring, writing and text revision competences; resourcing to various tools (e.g., Publisher, PowerPoint, Prezi, Word, Canva, Wix, Powton, etc.), in EOAII students developed their design and layout development skills. For the 3rd semester project, the production and oral presentation of a statistical report were requested. For the creation of their questionnaires, students applied skills intrinsic to the two courses involved. After having collected and processed the statistical data (DA), students structured and wrote their reports (STII). The option for competences articulation aims primarily at consolidating skills in key areas for secretarial and communication professionals (Borges, 2012) such as languages, electronic office applications and data analysis. The importance of these areas led to a second experiment in the first semester of academic year 2018/19 involving the CUs Electronic Office Applications I and French / German - Customer Relations and Hospitality, precisely to respond to the needs related with the creation of communication products (either in printed and digital formats) in several languages. In this assignment, 1st and 2nd year students produced a promotional video, which was subtitled in French and German. Cross-curricular projects, in addition to allowing a higher return on students’ efforts (the same task is assessed in two different CUs), also emphasizes the transversal nature of learning, clarifying that knowledge and skills associated with a given CU can have a concrete application in the real world, always in articulation with competences from other backgrounds. This is a clearly student-centred approach, one that provides students with the opportunity to consolidate technical and interpersonal skills essential to their professional success in an ever more collaborative environment, contributing thus to the “creation of a professional profile that meets the labour market and society’s expectations” (Mesquita et al., 2016, p.89).
Peer review: yes
DOI: 10.21125/edulearn.2019.1397
ISBN: 978-84-09-12031-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
Publisher Version:
Appears in Collections:CLLC - Capítulo de livro
ESTGA - Capítulo de livro

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