Tag der Lehre | Inverted Classroom and Beyond 2024


🛠️ How to foster Future Skills in independent learning phases?

Katja Wengler, Gerlinde Koppitsch, Christian F. Freisleben-Teutscher, Judith Hüther, Anita Kidritsch, Iris Neiske

Preparing, post-processing, and acquiring knowledge in independent learning phases (self- or home-study) are essential in both the Inverted Classroom Model (ICM) and the traditional teacher-centered approach. Consciously, teachers should consider to instruct students designing the independent learning phases, thus having an impact on students’ effectiveness of learning and developing competencies. Furthermore, it can also foster student engagement as shown in Han (2019) and Koppitsch et al. (2023).

Latest technological enhancement will fundamentally accelerate a change of the job market (entailing jobs getting lost and others being created with the advancement of automation, AI, and robotics). This transformation induces a shift in required work competencies and skills to ensure employability (Foelsing 2021; OECD 2019). Rethinking how to prepare future employees seems inevitable as well as altering the traditional stance of (specialist) knowledge acquisition being the core aim of education.

Future Skills - also referred to as Next Skills or 21st Century Skills – is an umbrella term for skills needed for changing job specifications. They include new cognitive, motivational and social-emotional skills for complex and independent problem-solving as well as critical analyzing and reflecting information. Higher educational institutions need to promote and foster these skills in order to prepare their students for the evolving new work.

In our research we focus on these Future Skills and how these could be measured using interviews and questionnaires:

- Teamwork (Cooperation competence),
- Critical thinking (Reflective competence), and 
- Digital (information) literacy (see also Aurora European Universities 2023, Ehlers n.d.).

Teamwork comprises the ability to collaborate in person or digitally in intercultural groups while helping the team to move forward, making constructive contributions in and outside of team meetings as well as respectful behavior and solving conflicts.

Critical thinking includes on the one hand exploring issues and ideas before forming an opinion or drawing a conclusion. On the other hand, it encompasses questioning not only other people’s but also one’s own behavior, thoughts, and values for making informed decisions.

Digital literacy is the ability to use digital media in a reflective and informed way while taking into account both its potential and limitations. Moreover, it can empower students to assess the credibility and reliability of AI-generated information, a ubiquitous issue in our times. This comprises knowledge about digital media and competencies to critically apply and communicate with its help. It is connected to information literacy, a term used for describing the ability to effectively identify, evaluate, and use information.

In our ICM courses and lectures, we consciously designed the independent learning phases to foster these three skills. Questionnaires and interviews with the students were conducted to shed light on their knowledge concerning these skills at the beginning and the end of the semester respectively (Kidritsch, 2022, among others). The workshop will start with a presentation of our research and initial research results and relate them to other research results (u.a. Bernard et al., 2018; Earl & Katz, 2008; Hattie & Timperley, 2007; Kolm et al., 2021). It will proceed with interactive group activities to deepen our understanding of how the ICM and the concept of Future skills can complement and further each other. The final goal is to scaffold use cases of how the skills in question can contribute to a successful implementation of the ICM, and to collaboratively find approaches and strategies to further their development. Based on this input we pursue the questions of how to foster Future Skills and we would like to discuss with workshop participants which other skills might be necessary as well as gather strategies and approaches to answer the following questions:

- What role do teachers play in students’ development of competencies?
- How does mandatory and voluntary group work proceed in the independent learning phases? How can teachers
  encourage and foster Teamwork?
- How can Critical thinking and Digital literacy be stimulated?
- How can peer and self-assessment foster a reflection of one’s own and other’s competencies?