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Educ. Sci., Volume 10, Issue 12 (December 2020) – 48 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): University students need both generic skills and field-specific knowledge to cope with the demands of working life. Further, there is a need to provide opportunities to develop these skills in higher education. Hence, this study aimed to gain a better understanding of the development of students’ working life skills and of how these skills can be developed from the teachers’ viewpoint in learning environments utilizing the flipped classroom approach. Results indicated that teachers identified various generic and field-specific working life skills, especially collaboration, information literacy, and skills related to career and responsibilities. Cooperative and active learning were the key means to support the development of working life skills. Facilitating students’ opportunities to develop their working life skills can be seen as an integral part of flipped classroom environments. [...] Read more.
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Article
The Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Italian Nature-Based Programs in the Educational, Therapeutic, Training and Leisure Areas
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 394; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120394 - 21 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1274
Abstract
In these times of global crisis caused by COVID-19, there is an urgent need to address the topic of nature-based experiences in education: the pandemic has strongly highlighted both the interdependence between human beings and nature, and the need for mending the dichotomic [...] Read more.
In these times of global crisis caused by COVID-19, there is an urgent need to address the topic of nature-based experiences in education: the pandemic has strongly highlighted both the interdependence between human beings and nature, and the need for mending the dichotomic vision that keeps them separate. Experiential education in natural contexts within an ecological framework might have a strategic role in this crucial period to develop anthropologic, civic, and dialogic conscience (Morin, 2001). Through this study, CEFEO Research Center had the objective of investigating the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on Italian nature-based programs in the educational, therapeutic, training, and leisure areas. From 28 May to 19 June 2020, an online questionnaire was distributed with the purpose of understanding the socio-economic impact of the pandemic on nature-based programs during the lockdown period and during the period of first reopening, and the related needs and new opportunities for the future. The results highlight a paradox: the COVID-19 crisis has caused more problems for a sector which was already suffering from a lack of funding and of social and institutional acknowledgment. Many agencies working in the field lost months of income and numerous working days, and they are uncertain about the future: they are having difficulties surviving in a moment when we need them more. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Outdoor Adventure Education: Trends and New Directions)
Article
Argumentation within Upper Secondary School Student Groups during Virtual Science Learning: Quality and Quantity of Spoken Argumentation
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 393; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120393 - 19 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 801
Abstract
In many studies, the focus has been on students’ written scientific argumentation rather than on their spoken argumentation. The main aim of this study was to relate the quality of spoken argumentation to groups’ learning achievement during a collaborative inquiry task. The data [...] Read more.
In many studies, the focus has been on students’ written scientific argumentation rather than on their spoken argumentation. The main aim of this study was to relate the quality of spoken argumentation to groups’ learning achievement during a collaborative inquiry task. The data included video recordings of six groups of three upper secondary students performing a collaborative inquiry task in a virtual learning environment. The target groups were selected from a larger sample of 39 groups based on their group outcome: two low, two average, and two high-outcome groups. The analysis focused on argumentation chains during the students’ discussions in the planning, experimentation, and conclusion phases of the inquiry task. The core of the coding scheme was based on Toulmin’s levels of argumentation. The results revealed differences between the different groups of students, with the high-performing groups having more argumentation than the average and low-performing groups. In high-performing groups, the students asked topic-related questions more frequently, which started the argumentative discussion. Meanwhile, there were few questions in the low-performing groups, and most did not lead to discussion. An evaluation scheme for the quality of the arguments was created and the spoken argumentation was analyzed using a computer-based program. The results may be used to benefit subject teacher education and to raise teachers’ awareness of their students’ scientific, topic-related discussions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Learning in Open and Flexible Environments)
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Article
Evaluation of Strengths of Dual Vocational Educational Training in Andalusia (Spain): A Stake on the Future
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 392; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120392 - 19 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 993
Abstract
Dual Vocational Training was introduced in Spain in 2012 with the purpose to reinforce training based on employment requirements and to promote youth employment within the labour market. Since its implementation, there has been continuous growth of the presence of this modality across [...] Read more.
Dual Vocational Training was introduced in Spain in 2012 with the purpose to reinforce training based on employment requirements and to promote youth employment within the labour market. Since its implementation, there has been continuous growth of the presence of this modality across every Autonomous Community, with Andalusia being one of the latest regions to dualize the Vocational Educational Training (hereinafter VET) educational scheme. From the outset however, this modality has faced a number of obstacles that question its sustainability. Without losing sight of these obstacles, and with the purpose of providing arguments that justify the suitability of this model in Andalusia, this study aims to identify—from the unique perspective of three Andalusian educational institutions—the strengths of this modality and the opportunities that the Andalusian context offers. To this end, we have used the SWOT technique to analyse the opinion of a group of teachers regarding their thoughts on the Andalusian Dual VET system, from both an internal and external perspective. Workforce insertion and the quality of skills gained through training are some of the strengths that characterize this model, with the greatest opportunities derived from the needs of the Andalusian business and productive sectors. Based on the scenarios drawn, we have suggested a number of guidelines to capitalize on some of the identified strengths and take advantage of the opportunities observed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue International Vocational Education and Training)
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Review
Use of Mobile Applications in Developing Reading Comprehension in Second Language Acquisition—A Review Study
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 391; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120391 - 18 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1613
Abstract
Reading is a fundamental skill for academic success because university students need to comprehend an extensive amount of information in a short time to achieve their academic goals. However, the influx of new technologies into education has challenged the teaching of reading skills [...] Read more.
Reading is a fundamental skill for academic success because university students need to comprehend an extensive amount of information in a short time to achieve their academic goals. However, the influx of new technologies into education has challenged the teaching of reading skills in a foreign language. The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of emerging technologies, especially mobile applications, on second language reading comprehension in the period between 1 January and 30 September 2020. Therefore, the authors of this article conducted a search of available studies on the topic, i.e., the use of mobile applications in developing reading comprehension in second language acquisition, in two databases: Web of Science and Scopus. Despite the methodological differences, the findings of all of the identified studies showed that there was an improvement in reading comprehension after the treatment with mobile applications. In addition, a positive attitude and enhanced learner motivation when using mobile apps was found in several studies. Overall, there is potential for developing research on MALL and reading comprehension for randomized control studies with larger populations and longer intervention periods. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Using Technology in Higher Education—Series 1)
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Article
Impact of Contextual Predictors on Value-Added Teacher Effectiveness Estimates
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 390; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120390 - 18 Dec 2020
Viewed by 742
Abstract
It is widely believed that the teacher is one of the most important factors influencing a student’s success at school. In many countries, teachers’ salaries and promotion prospects are determined by their students’ performance. Value-added models (VAMs) are increasingly used to measure teacher [...] Read more.
It is widely believed that the teacher is one of the most important factors influencing a student’s success at school. In many countries, teachers’ salaries and promotion prospects are determined by their students’ performance. Value-added models (VAMs) are increasingly used to measure teacher effectiveness to reward or penalize teachers. The aim of this paper is to examine the relationship between teacher effectiveness and student academic performance, controlling for other contextual factors, such as student and school characteristics. The data are based on 7543 Grade 8 students matched with 230 teachers from one province in Turkey. To test how much progress in student academic achievement can be attributed to a teacher, a series of regression analyses were run including contextual predictors at the student, school and teacher/classroom level. The results show that approximately half of the differences in students’ math test scores can be explained by their prior attainment alone (47%). Other factors, such as teacher and school characteristics explain very little the variance in students’ test scores once the prior attainment is taken into account. This suggests that teachers add little to students’ later performance. The implication, therefore, is that any intervention to improve students’ achievement should be introduced much earlier in their school life. However, this does not mean that teachers are not important. Teachers are key to schools and student learning, even if they are not differentially effective from each other in the local (or any) school system. Therefore, systems that attempt to differentiate “effective” from “ineffective” teachers may not be fair to some teachers. Full article
Article
Features of Known and Unknown Words for First Graders of Different Proficiency Levels in Winter and Spring
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 389; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120389 - 18 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1243
Abstract
This study describes the features of words known and unknown by first graders of different proficiency levels in six instances of an oral reading fluency assessment: three in winter and three in spring. A sample of 411 students was placed into four groups [...] Read more.
This study describes the features of words known and unknown by first graders of different proficiency levels in six instances of an oral reading fluency assessment: three in winter and three in spring. A sample of 411 students was placed into four groups (very high, high, middle, and low) based on their median correct words per minute in spring. Each word in the assessment was coded on 11 features: numbers of phonemes, letters, syllables, blends, morphemes, percentages of multisyllabic and of morphologically complex words, concreteness, age of acquisition, decodability, and U function. Words were classified as known if more than 50% of the students within a group were able to correctly read those words. Features of known and unknown words were contrasted for all but the highest group, which made no errors, at each point in time. An analysis of the patterns of known words across groups from winter to spring shows that students followed a similar general progression in the number and type of words recognized. The most prominent feature of unknown words in winter and spring for the middle group of students was the presence of multiple syllables. The lowest-performing group of students continued to be limited by word length and frequency in their recognition of words, but on both features, their proficiency increased from winter to spring. The discussion addresses several critical issues, most notably the relationship of words in oral reading assessments to the word recognition curriculum of many beginning reading programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Curriculum and Instruction)
Article
Reconceptualizing Expressive Arts Education in Portugal through a Biographical Narrative Approach
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 388; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120388 - 18 Dec 2020
Viewed by 669
Abstract
In light of ongoing controversies concerning expressive arts education in Portuguese primary schools, the life history of one primary-school teacher who lives and works in the city of Porto (Portugal) is the starting point for problematizing this issue from the perspective of lived [...] Read more.
In light of ongoing controversies concerning expressive arts education in Portuguese primary schools, the life history of one primary-school teacher who lives and works in the city of Porto (Portugal) is the starting point for problematizing this issue from the perspective of lived experiences. Data collection comprises oral reports, visual materials, and emotional accounts. Feelings were shared in a relational environment framed by ethical commitments. Through these processes, it was possible to create a narrative within the framework of a biographical narrative research approach. The main purpose was to highlight the voice of one primary-school teacher whose life history is blended with the foundations and practices of artistic expression in basic education—such as language, communication, knowledge, and lived experiences—making it an important starting point for reconceptualizing expressive arts education. The results showed that this reconceptualization can be achieved through three dimensions: seducing people, mediating places, and governing senses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Art Education: Past, Present and Futures)
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Article
Teachers’ Perspectives on the Intertwining of Tangible and Digital Modes of Activity with a Drawing Robot for Geometry
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 387; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120387 - 18 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 890
Abstract
The GeomBot is a drawing robot that combines the well-known strengths and opportunities offered by Scratch with those of Papert’s original robotic drawing-turtle. In this study we look at the GeomBot as a physical programmable artifact around which action research with a group [...] Read more.
The GeomBot is a drawing robot that combines the well-known strengths and opportunities offered by Scratch with those of Papert’s original robotic drawing-turtle. In this study we look at the GeomBot as a physical programmable artifact around which action research with a group of teachers and a researcher was carried out with the aim of designing, implementing and discussing geometry activities for primary school classes. The aim of this article is to investigate teachers’ positioning and perspectives with respect to the activities and the educational environment emerging around the Geombot in the action research. The action research meetings between September 2018 and June 2019 included nine primary school teachers from seven different Italian schools, who met regularly with the first author. After the design and experimentation sessions, in June 2019, the teachers shared their experiences during a final meeting and group discussion guided by the first author. The data collected from the teachers were analyzed using cultural categories from the Semiotic Systems of Cultural Signification, theorized by the Theory of Objectification, to identify the most significant features defining the teachers’ perspectives and identity. The seven emergent features cover teachers’ positioning with respect to: forms of rationality and language and languages: sensuous cognition and the use of ideal and material semiotic resources; accepted teaching practices, problems and situations; mathematical knowledge; the conception of the student; social interaction and forms of rationality; ethical issues; technology. Full article
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Article
Development of Vocational Maturity in University Students with Disabilities to Access, Obtain an Internship and Complete University Studies
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 386; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120386 - 17 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 641
Abstract
In recent years, there has been a considerable increase in the number of university students with disabilities in Spain, as in other countries. Access to and completion of studies in higher education has been identified as a factor that improves the educational and [...] Read more.
In recent years, there has been a considerable increase in the number of university students with disabilities in Spain, as in other countries. Access to and completion of studies in higher education has been identified as a factor that improves the educational and labor inclusion of these people. However, this group of students faces difficulties in completing their studies, as they encounter problems in carrying out their internships, which is an obligatory element of many degrees. Our quantitative research study presents the results of the Generating Professional Skills (GPS) program for the development of vocational maturity based on training itineraries, carried out by the University Unit of Attention to People with Disability. The main results show an increase in vocational maturity and position tutoring as a fundamental part of the educational inclusion process, as well as a key role of the support services for those with disabilities to experience a more inclusive and quality education, thus aligning with objective 4 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. SDG. The information collected allows us to conclude that these programs increase the vocational maturity and the knowledge and competencies of students with disabilities and, therefore, are key elements for the success in accessing and obtaining internships and for the successful completion of their studies. Full article
Review
Conceptual Model of Measuring MHEI Efficiency
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 385; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120385 - 16 Dec 2020
Viewed by 537
Abstract
Modern societies, new technical equipment and technology confirm the importance of knowledge acquisition in everyday life, especially in economy. An education system is a non-profit system. Since it strongly affects economic efficiency, its quantification becomes a very complex process. In order to make [...] Read more.
Modern societies, new technical equipment and technology confirm the importance of knowledge acquisition in everyday life, especially in economy. An education system is a non-profit system. Since it strongly affects economic efficiency, its quantification becomes a very complex process. In order to make the quantification process possible, this paper analyses the already existing criteria for measuring efficiency in higher education systems. The already existing models of measuring educational efficiency are universal and do not analyse different professions’ specific qualities. In this paper, models of measuring educational efficiency were analysed separately, whereas their interrelations were not a part of the analysis. A conceptual model of measuring maritime higher education institutions’ (hereinafter: MHEI) efficiency was proposed on the basis of the above-mentioned analysis. All the evaluation criteria relevant for MHEI and their interrelations were determined. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section STEM Education)
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Article
Fostering Critical Reflection in Primary Education through STEAM Approaches
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 384; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120384 - 16 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1318
Abstract
This paper describes a quantitative study that explores teaching practices in primary education to sustain the hypothesis that students’ critical thinking may be activated through individual and group reflection. The study examines the quality of the reflections from primary school students during group [...] Read more.
This paper describes a quantitative study that explores teaching practices in primary education to sustain the hypothesis that students’ critical thinking may be activated through individual and group reflection. The study examines the quality of the reflections from primary school students during group processing when participating in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) instructional approaches. The project’s core methodology lies in scientific (physics) and artistic (dance) instructional activities which were executed in a continuous reflective and cooperative learning environment. The educational approach was refined by analyzing the reflective discussions from focus groups where descriptive, argumentative, reflective and critical reflective knowledge about acquired knowledge, competences, beliefs, attitudes and emotions were considered. While the educational intervention proved that 1st-year (K-7) students essentially reflected at the level of description, 3rd-year (K-9) and 5th-year (K-11) students, however, attained higher levels of individual critical reflection development than initially anticipated. The STEAM approaches were found to produce significant use and understanding of both science and artistic concepts and to increase a sense of competence readiness and a perception of modes of cooperation such as individual responsibility and promotive interaction. Full article
Article
Children’s Literature in Critical Contexts of Displacement: Exploring the Value of Hope
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 383; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120383 - 16 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1585
Abstract
The article builds upon work carried out through a Children’s Literature in Critical Contexts of Displacement (CLCCD) network funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council–Global Challenges Research Fund. The network brought together academics as well as government and non-governmental organisations with expertise [...] Read more.
The article builds upon work carried out through a Children’s Literature in Critical Contexts of Displacement (CLCCD) network funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council–Global Challenges Research Fund. The network brought together academics as well as government and non-governmental organisations with expertise in children’s literature, migration, and education who were actively working in Egypt and Mexico. They collaboratively designed workshops that examined the use of children’s literature as a cultural tool for post-crisis interventions that could contribute to creating a safe space for children and their families to reimagine and restore their self and group identities. This article begins by unravelling the concept of hope, arguing for a critical understanding of hope for transformative use within contexts of flux. Using a critical content analysis approach, five picturebooks used by Egyptian and Mexican mediators were analysed in order to develop an understanding of how critical hope developed within the texts. The emerging themes have been expanded into a set of guiding questions that will enable mediators and educators to use children’s literature in contexts of displacement or precarity. Full article
Article
The Development of an Educational Outdoor Adventure Mobile App
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120382 - 16 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 849
Abstract
This article focuses on the development of an educational outdoor adventure mobile app while presenting findings that were derived from various case studies that we conducted using it. The mobile application, called RouteQuizer, is complemented by a web application and a database, forming [...] Read more.
This article focuses on the development of an educational outdoor adventure mobile app while presenting findings that were derived from various case studies that we conducted using it. The mobile application, called RouteQuizer, is complemented by a web application and a database, forming a system that enables teachers to create educational treasure hunt activities for their students and monitor their performance. The aim of the research was to create a system that would exploit all possible Outdoor Adventure Education (OAE) and treasure hunt benefits while excluding possible smartphone use negative consequences. The development of the system took place in Greece and began in December 2017, by conducting a nation-wide research examining Greek secondary teachers’ Information and Communication Technology (ICT) literacy and perceptions on smartphone use and outdoor activities. By June 2018, 700 questionnaires were collected. In order to test the system, in March 2018, we conducted a pilot case study in Lesvos island Greece and between July 2018 and February 2020, we conducted four additional case studies and a teacher training program, all of which took place in Lesvos island Greece. During the development process of the mobile application, we focused on the participatory aspect of the process, paying special attention to the teacher and student evaluation during the design and prototyping phases. Considering that the system is educational we research whether the mobile application provided effective learning outcomes and whether it benefited students’ social and physical skills. The results that we collected suggest that the mobile application is an effective learning tool while mobile learning and treasure hunt benefits have been repeatedly confirmed during the case studies. Greek teachers and students also proved to be capable smartphone and computer users, and reported being willing to participate in similar activities in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Outdoor Adventure Education: Trends and New Directions)
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Article
Whoa.Nu: (Re)Constructing and Learning Swedish Hip-Hop Online
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 381; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120381 - 15 Dec 2020
Viewed by 850
Abstract
Whoa.nu started in 2000 as a community where members discussed all aspects of hip-hop in Sweden. The community became the most important place not only for discussions among members but also for releasing free albums and songs to the public and for arranging [...] Read more.
Whoa.nu started in 2000 as a community where members discussed all aspects of hip-hop in Sweden. The community became the most important place not only for discussions among members but also for releasing free albums and songs to the public and for arranging events. Moreover, the site was an educational hub for members to learn about hip-hop. The core of Whoa.nu was the community, wherein the communicating environment of members developed as artists, audience, and critics. Whoa.nu was not only a place for individuals’ learning processes and development but a place where Swedish hip-hop evolved and changed its regional frames, forming its own identity. The aim of this article was to present an analysis of the development of Whoa.nu as a learning platform for hip-hop in Sweden based on interviews with the two administrators of the site. Further, we wanted to use this as a steppingstone to discuss how listeners learned about popular music online during different eras. Two questions were at the forefront of this research: (1) How do the interviewees describe the internal views of the relation between how Whoa.nu and Swedish hip-hop changed over 13 years? and (2) how can Whoa.nu be understood as a learning environment? I henceforth present insights into how musical learning can happen outside of institutions and how Swedish hip-hop has grown from subculture to mainstream, which is how Whoa.nu outgrew itself. Hip-hop education is currently institutionalized in the same way that jazz and rock once were institutionalized. It went from being rebellious and subversive to being embraced by the larger society and integrated into academia. The results herein present a story of one example where musical learning in a subculture occurred. The insights presented, then, can help educators prepare for similar transformations of learning arenas in future musical subcultures. These insights could aid teachers and educators to assist students involved in music subcultures not discussed in schools. Hopefully, this article inspires additional ways of learning music. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Relation between Supplementary Education and Public Schooling)
Article
Volunteering in the University Context: Student Perception and Participation
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 380; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120380 - 15 Dec 2020
Viewed by 673
Abstract
In increasingly diverse cultural contexts, the intercultural perspective favors an enriching coexistence between cultures, with volunteering being an exercise that allows for a critical transformation of reality in order to achieve a more supportive and equitable society. This article aims to find out [...] Read more.
In increasingly diverse cultural contexts, the intercultural perspective favors an enriching coexistence between cultures, with volunteering being an exercise that allows for a critical transformation of reality in order to achieve a more supportive and equitable society. This article aims to find out how university students conceive of volunteering, as well as their level of participation. The sample was made up of 208 students from the Pedagogy and Social Education degrees of the University of Granada during the 2019/2020 academic year. An ad hoc questionnaire was applied, which incorporated a standardised instrument (Adapted Values Test), as well as questions designed by the authors. The results underline the positive axiological perception of volunteering. The participants understand volunteering as a helping role that depends on the social, personal, and professional motivations of the students. However, this positive perception is not transformed into active participation and continuous links with voluntary organisations. The conclusions indicate that university students value volunteering as a necessary task for the social good, although their participation is low, and it is necessary to transform the pro-social awareness of university students into real participation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Intercultural Education)
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Article
Differences of Gender in Oral and Written Communication Apprehension of University Students
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 379; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120379 - 14 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 799
Abstract
Oral and written skills are increasingly considered to be essential tools in the job market for the success of any worker, and are thus called soft skills. Nevertheless, most graduates who enter the labor market experience difficulties in the apprehension of communication, not [...] Read more.
Oral and written skills are increasingly considered to be essential tools in the job market for the success of any worker, and are thus called soft skills. Nevertheless, most graduates who enter the labor market experience difficulties in the apprehension of communication, not only with regard to writing, but also in oral communication. These difficulties are also noticeable in the classroom, for instance when students need to participate by expressing their doubts when they have to present research work within the curricular units they attend, or when they have to write their answers in assessment tests. In this paper, we explore the communication skills of students from different graduate degrees (n = 345) in order to understand how they prepare for oral and written communication. We made use of the Personal Report of Communication Apprehension (PRCA), validated by McCroskey, Beatty, Kearney, and Plax (1985), in order to understand students’ oral communication apprehension. To understand the levels of written communication apprehension, we applied the Daly–Miller Writing Apprehension Test (DMWA). We thus analyzed the communicational skills and the communication apprehension of students from social and human sciences courses in order to understand how they prepare for oral and writing communication, and whether there were differences between genders and between different graduate courses regarding communication apprehension. The main results of this research confirm that the students experienced difficulties with and fear of communication, especially for oral communication. Furthermore, the results indicate that female students showed more significant levels of anxiety with regard to oral and written communication than male students. This exploratory study also makes it possible to distinguish areas of communication apprehension according to the different genders, and even with regard to the degree courses students belonged to. Full article
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Article
Capturing Student Satisfaction: A Case Study on the National Student Survey Results to Identify the Needs of Students in STEM Related Courses for a Better Learning Experience
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 378; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120378 - 14 Dec 2020
Viewed by 905
Abstract
The UK higher education has been one of the top destinations for international students over the last few decades, and it is beneficial to the UK local and national economy. However, recent changes of the governmental policies on the way UK universities are [...] Read more.
The UK higher education has been one of the top destinations for international students over the last few decades, and it is beneficial to the UK local and national economy. However, recent changes of the governmental policies on the way UK universities are funded and the recession that still affects economies around the world have left many universities around the UK at financial survival risk. With relatively limited access to reduced research funds, student recruitment has a vital importance for most universities. It has been well established in the literature that academic reputation and the level of services have the most significant impact on national and international students. Thus, universities, to maintain their market share, must spend much energy and resources to improve the level of services offered to their students. The recently introduced National Student Survey (NSS) has become one of the most important metrics to assess student satisfaction that influences directly the university league tables and the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), which in turn effects international and national student recruitment. It is not surprising that underpinning student satisfaction has become the major target of UK universities. Therefore, a research investigation has been carried out to identify the most influential factors that comprise to the decision of overall satisfaction for the students studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. On this purpose, a detailed statistical analysis was carried out on the NSS results and it was concluded that there is strong evidence, that “teaching” and “organisation and management” are the vital influential factors on the overall satisfaction of students. Full article
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Article
Improving Graduation Rate Estimates Using Regularly Updating Multi-Level Absorbing Markov Chains
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 377; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120377 - 13 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 713
Abstract
American universities use a procedure based on a rolling six-year graduation rate to calculate statistics regarding their students’ final educational outcomes (graduating or not graduating). As an alternative to the six-year graduation rate method, many studies have applied absorbing Markov chains for estimating [...] Read more.
American universities use a procedure based on a rolling six-year graduation rate to calculate statistics regarding their students’ final educational outcomes (graduating or not graduating). As an alternative to the six-year graduation rate method, many studies have applied absorbing Markov chains for estimating graduation rates. In both cases, a frequentist approach is used. For the standard six-year graduation rate method, the frequentist approach corresponds to counting the number of students who finished their program within six years and dividing by the number of students who entered that year. In the case of absorbing Markov chains, the frequentist approach is used to compute the underlying transition matrix, which is then used to estimate the graduation rate. In this paper, we apply a sensitivity analysis to compare the performance of the standard six-year graduation rate method with that of absorbing Markov chains. Through the analysis, we highlight significant limitations with regards to the estimation accuracy of both approaches when applied to small sample sizes or cohorts at a university. Additionally, we note that the Absorbing Markov chain method introduces a significant bias, which leads to an underestimation of the true graduation rate. To overcome both these challenges, we propose and evaluate the use of a regularly updating multi-level absorbing Markov chain (RUML-AMC) in which the transition matrix is updated year to year. We empirically demonstrate that the proposed RUML-AMC approach nearly eliminates estimation bias while reducing the estimation variation by more than 40%, especially for populations with small sample sizes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Machine learning in Education)
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An Augmented Reality-Based Mobile Application Facilitates the Learning about the Spinal Cord
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 376; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120376 - 12 Dec 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 955
Abstract
Health education is one of the knowledge areas in which augmented reality (AR) technology is widespread, and it has been considered as a facilitator of the learning process. In literature, there are still few studies detailing the role of mobile AR in neuroanatomy. [...] Read more.
Health education is one of the knowledge areas in which augmented reality (AR) technology is widespread, and it has been considered as a facilitator of the learning process. In literature, there are still few studies detailing the role of mobile AR in neuroanatomy. Specifically, for the spinal cord, the teaching–learning process may be hindered due to its abstract nature and the absence of three-dimensional models. In this sense, we implemented a mobile application with AR technology named NitLabEduca for studying the spinal cord with an interactive exploration of 3D rotating models in the macroscopic scale, theoretical content of its specificities, animations, and simulations regarding its physiology. To investigate NitLabEduca’s effects, eighty individuals with and without previous neuroanatomy knowledge were selected and grouped into control and experimental groups. Divided, they performed learning tasks through a questionnaire. We used the System Usability Scale (SUS) to evaluate the usability level of the mobile application and a complimentary survey to verify the adherence level to the use of mobile applications in higher education. As a result, we observed that participants of both groups who started the task with the application and finished with text had more correct results in the test (p < 0.001). SUS results were promising in terms of usability and learning factor. We concluded that studying the spinal cord through NitLabEduca seems to favor learning when used as a complement to the printed material. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Smartphones: Challenges and Opportunities for Learning)
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Review
Cultural Dimension in Internationalization of the Curriculum in Higher Education
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 375; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120375 - 11 Dec 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 923
Abstract
Internationalization in higher education seems to be an unavoidable process, albeit temporarily limited by the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease of 2019) pandemic. Specifically, internationalization of the curriculum in the context of higher education is a dimension of this internationalization that is less valued in [...] Read more.
Internationalization in higher education seems to be an unavoidable process, albeit temporarily limited by the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease of 2019) pandemic. Specifically, internationalization of the curriculum in the context of higher education is a dimension of this internationalization that is less valued in published studies. This paper, through critical reflection, sought to contribute to a deeper understanding of internationalization of the curriculum in higher education. The methodology used consisted of a bibliographic search in international databases, and the selected documents were analyzed using the content analysis technique. This analysis allowed concluding that internationalization of the curriculum in higher education is a complex process and involves several actors, with various challenges to be considered. For this process to be successful, it involves the ability to be attentive to the cultural multiplicity that will be experienced in classes where this internationalization of the curriculum exists. Full article
Article
Distance Learning Perceptions from Higher Education Students—The Case of Portugal
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 374; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120374 - 10 Dec 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1635
Abstract
This research study examines the attitudes of Portuguese higher education students regarding compulsory digital and distance learning university courses during the second semester of the academic year 2019–2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The methodology was quantitative, being the undergraduate and postgraduate students surveyed [...] Read more.
This research study examines the attitudes of Portuguese higher education students regarding compulsory digital and distance learning university courses during the second semester of the academic year 2019–2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. The methodology was quantitative, being the undergraduate and postgraduate students surveyed to find their perceptions about distance and online education in Portugal. The findings of the study highlighted the relationship between distance and online learning. The key concern of the respondents is related to the formal and contextual dimensions of the online class regime. The values examined, taken as a whole, allow us to conclude that with this teaching regime, in terms of awareness, there is acceptance and benefit. The sense of ambiguity in which this transformation took place, as well as the climate surrounding this phase, are worth noting. The teaching and evaluation methodologies used have been embraced and show a very wide range of choices on the part of the teaching teams and the students’ various interests, just as in the teaching regime of the classroom. The fact that students feel the need for face-to-face classes, however, is of great importance for practical and laboratory classes. This reality, which is a challenge to face in the future, is hard to overcome. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue New Research and Trends in Higher Education)
Article
How Long Has It Taken for the Physical Landscape to Form? Conceptions of Spanish Pre-Service Teachers
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 373; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120373 - 10 Dec 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 613
Abstract
This paper analyses the conceptions of a group of students about geological time and its relation to physical landscape formation, focusing on the frequency and rate of a number of geological processes that have shaped our planet over time and that are involved [...] Read more.
This paper analyses the conceptions of a group of students about geological time and its relation to physical landscape formation, focusing on the frequency and rate of a number of geological processes that have shaped our planet over time and that are involved in the formation of the current relief. Data were collected by means of a questionnaire that was administered to 199 university students from a Spanish public university. A total of 185 of them were pre-service teachers and 14 were geology students. Results demonstrated that pre-service teachers had trouble correctly answering questions about the current relief, but especially those questions related to landscapes throughout the history of Earth. Data analysis was done, taking into account pre-university students’ tuition, and results showed that those who had taken a high school branch of sciences and technology obtained better results than those who had taken a humanities and social sciences branch. These latter also obtained better results than those who had taken arts as a high school branch. Furthermore, pre-service teachers had difficulties mastering mid-time magnitudes, which ended up making it difficult for them to understand how the physical landscapes were formed. Finally, from the obtained results, some curricula implications are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue An Educational Approach to Landscape)
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Article
Development and Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the Organisational Communication in Primary Schools Questionnaire
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 372; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120372 - 08 Dec 2020
Viewed by 764
Abstract
This article describes the development and subsequent testing of scales representing functions and features of school communication among staff in Australian primary schools using the Organisational Communication in Primary Schools Questionnaire (OCPSQ). The OCPSQ was developed to measure aspects of communication occurring vertically [...] Read more.
This article describes the development and subsequent testing of scales representing functions and features of school communication among staff in Australian primary schools using the Organisational Communication in Primary Schools Questionnaire (OCPSQ). The OCPSQ was developed to measure aspects of communication occurring vertically between school leadership and staff members and horizontally among staff members. Elements of classical, human relations, and cultural theories were used to guide questionnaire development. Items were developed to represent theorised communication constructs derived from previous literature. Exploratory factor analysis was used to identify the underlying structure of aspects of communication. Confirmatory factor analysis was employed as a validation of the OCPSQ and its constructs. An interpretable ten-factor solution, representing salient functions and features of organisational communication, was established. Scales generated by the OCPSQ were found to have high reliabilities. The scales represented supportive, directive, cultural, and democratic functions, as well as features of communication relating to openness and load. Full article
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Article
Project-Based Teaching of the Topic “Energy Sources” in Physics via Integrated e-Learning—Pedagogical Research in the 9th Grade at Two Primary Schools in Slovakia
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 371; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120371 - 08 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 704
Abstract
This work presents the results of two-year-long pedagogical research, the aim of which was to demonstrate the applicability of the usage of a new strategy in education—Integrated e-Learning (INTe-L)—through its introduction into project-based physics teaching in Slovakia. The INTe-L strategy is built around [...] Read more.
This work presents the results of two-year-long pedagogical research, the aim of which was to demonstrate the applicability of the usage of a new strategy in education—Integrated e-Learning (INTe-L)—through its introduction into project-based physics teaching in Slovakia. The INTe-L strategy is built around the role of experiments and interactive simulations in knowledge acquisition and on the possibility of integrating scientific methods in education. The elements of INTe-L are the following: (a) real on-site and real remote experiments, (b) interactive virtual experiments (e-simulations) and (c) educational e-materials. The primary objective of our study was to determine the suitability of project-based teaching with INTe-L elements for the topic “Energy Sources”. The research was based on the following hypothesis: project-based teaching via INTe-L of the topic “Energy Sources” in physics is more effective than the traditional (instructionist) way of teaching. To verify the hypothesis, we performed a pedagogical experiment on a sample of 155 respondents in the 9th grade at two primary schools in Slovakia. The pupils were divided into two working groups: an experimental group (EG) of 85 pupils and a control group (CG) of 70 pupils. The pupils with worse grades were included in the EG. To get relevant feedback, pre-test and post-test studies and an interview were developed and applied. The results attained in both groups were statistically processed, evaluated and subsequently compared. A two-phase test with dispersion equality proved that differences in the pre-test scores in the EG and CG were not statistically significant. The differences in the final didactic test (post-test) results achieved by the EG and CG, on the other hand, were statistically significant and better scores in the EG were obtained. A positive change of pupils’ attitude in the EG towards physics after the execution of our project-based teaching was noted. The evaluation of the results attained by the pupils proved that the introduction of project-based teaching via INTe-L was an effective strategy to improve Physics teaching. As such, the implementation of this interactive strategy into the instructional education process at primary schools is recommended. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue E-learning in Engineering Education: Challenges and Solutions)
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Article
After the Move to a New Campus—Effects on Students’ Satisfaction with the Physical and Learning Environment
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 370; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120370 - 08 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 610
Abstract
Few empirical studies in higher education consider the importance of the physical environment on students’ satisfaction with the learning environment. The present study first examined the effects of a move to a new campus on students’ satisfaction with the physical and learning environments. [...] Read more.
Few empirical studies in higher education consider the importance of the physical environment on students’ satisfaction with the learning environment. The present study first examined the effects of a move to a new campus on students’ satisfaction with the physical and learning environments. Then, it examined how students’ satisfaction with a physical environment affects students’ satisfaction with the learning environment. It was hypothesised that the move to a new and modern university campus with better study facilities would increase students’ satisfaction both with the physical and learning environment, and that these two would be linked. Results contained 771 students’ assessments of the Bachelor Evaluation Questionnaire, which included students’ satisfaction with five aspects of their learning environment as well as five items assessing satisfaction with the physical environment. Findings showed that students were overall more satisfied with the physical environment in the new campus than in the old campus. These differences were even greater when comparing only students in their last study year than students of all study years. Furthermore, results showed that students’ satisfaction with lecturers and teaching was predicted by increased satisfaction with classrooms. The implications of these findings for the need to design physical learning environments are discussed. Full article
Article
Total Interpretive Structural Modelling of Graduate Employability Skills for the Built Environment Sector
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 369; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120369 - 08 Dec 2020
Viewed by 741
Abstract
Contemporary practices and future projections in the Built Environment (BE) sector highlight an increasing demand on Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to produce graduates possessing relevant skills aligned to meet workplace demands. This study aims to analyse the key skills influencing BE graduate employability [...] Read more.
Contemporary practices and future projections in the Built Environment (BE) sector highlight an increasing demand on Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to produce graduates possessing relevant skills aligned to meet workplace demands. This study aims to analyse the key skills influencing BE graduate employability in the United Kingdom (UK) for the benefit of HEIs. This investigation leverages on a critical review of extant literature and an elicitation of the perceptions of targeted macro, meso, and micro level key stakeholders in the BE sector to identify key employability skills. The Total Interpretive Structural Modelling (TISM) technique was used to analyse the contextual interrelationships among the identified skills to develop a hierarchical model that provides HEI with insight for BE curriculum development. Six key employability skillsets hierarchically modelled into four levels were identified as crucial for potential graduates to successfully attract and adapt to contemporary practices in the Built Environment sector. Findings reveal communication and team-working skills as critical, independent skills driving the successful development of the remaining four skillsets. This research extends the literature on employability skills by investigating the interactions of various skills that predominantly predicts graduate employability in the Built Environment sector. The resulting TISM skills model provides hierarchical and logical interdependencies beneficial to assist HEIs to strategically design BE curricular to enhance graduate employability. Full article
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Article
Challenges and Opportunities for Russian Higher Education amid COVID-19: Teachers’ Perspective
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 368; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120368 - 07 Dec 2020
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 4004
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic has tremendously affected higher education systems in Russia and all over the world, forcing to transform curriculum into an online format, which is a challenge for all the educational process participants. The current study discusses the implementation of online learning [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic has tremendously affected higher education systems in Russia and all over the world, forcing to transform curriculum into an online format, which is a challenge for all the educational process participants. The current study discusses the implementation of online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the Russian higher education context and investigates the challenges experienced by university teachers during this period to define their readiness for online education. To address the above-mentioned issues, a study was conducted in Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. A variety of methods of scientific and pedagogical research were used including systematic structural analysis, synthesis, work with research papers, the generalization of experience and experimental work, observation, surveys, etc., with 87 university teachers asked to respond to several sets of questions describing their online teaching experience after the launch of online education amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The analysis of the participants’ answers helped to identify the following main challenges experienced by university teachers: computer literacy level, the university electronic environment and support, academic staff readiness and students’ readiness for online learning, the last two being the most important hindering the implementation of the efficient online education process. It was also underlined by most respondents that methodological work of a teacher in a digital educational environment differs from conventional teaching methods. Thus, psychological, technological, methodological support and teachers’ professional development programs are of vital importance to minimize the negative impact of the rapid changes of the educational process and to ensure efficient online education. Full article
Article
Does Level of Education Influence the Development of Adolescents’ Mindsets?
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 367; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120367 - 07 Dec 2020
Viewed by 840
Abstract
In the present study, we compared the mindset of preuniversity students and (primary and secondary) vocational students. Participants comprised of 173 students attending preuniversity education and 101 students attending vocational education. All participants completed a mindset questionnaire. We expected, based on previous educational [...] Read more.
In the present study, we compared the mindset of preuniversity students and (primary and secondary) vocational students. Participants comprised of 173 students attending preuniversity education and 101 students attending vocational education. All participants completed a mindset questionnaire. We expected, based on previous educational experiences, that preuniversity students would show on average a higher score (i.e., more of a growth mindset) than vocational students. Results indicated, however, that there was hardly any difference in mindset between vocational and preuniversity students. The mindset of adolescents is therefore not influenced by the level of education. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Curriculum and Instruction)
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Article
How Can Flipped Classroom Approach Support the Development of University Students’ Working Life Skills?—University Teachers’ Viewpoint
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 366; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120366 - 04 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 973
Abstract
Higher education students need both generic skills and field-specific knowledge in order to cope with the diverse demands of working life. The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding of the development of university students’ working life skills and of [...] Read more.
Higher education students need both generic skills and field-specific knowledge in order to cope with the diverse demands of working life. The aim of this study was to gain a better understanding of the development of university students’ working life skills and of how these skills can be developed in learning environments utilizing the flipped classroom approach. The focus was on the experiences and thoughts of higher education teachers concerning which learning environment features support the development of working life skills. Altogether, 22 higher education teachers from a Finnish university were interviewed with semistructured interviews, and the data was subjected to content analysis. The results indicated that teachers identified several generic and field-specific working life skills, the most important of which were collaboration, communication, information literacy, and skills related to career and responsibilities. The flipped classroom appeared to support students’ active role and facilitate versatile ways of learning. Especially, cooperative and active learning were identified to be the key means to support the development of students’ working life skills in flipped classroom environments. Facilitating students’ opportunities to develop their working life skills can be seen as an integral part of flipped classroom environments in many ways. However, it is important that the opportunities are actively promoted, and conceptual and practical tools are provided for the student through university studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Higher Education)
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Article
The Role of Emotions, Moral Disengagement and Gender in Supporting Victims of Bullying
Educ. Sci. 2020, 10(12), 365; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci10120365 - 03 Dec 2020
Viewed by 694
Abstract
Previous research shows that classmates supporting victims’ defence is fundamental to combat bullying. To find a suitable response for the bullying problem, we must bear in mind how all the victim’s classmates respond and what variables can determine their helping behaviour. Moral disengagement [...] Read more.
Previous research shows that classmates supporting victims’ defence is fundamental to combat bullying. To find a suitable response for the bullying problem, we must bear in mind how all the victim’s classmates respond and what variables can determine their helping behaviour. Moral disengagement has been demonstrated to be a factor that explains behaviour when faced with bullying. Emotions have also been shown to be relevant for bullying behaviour. This research aimed to gain knowledge of how adolescents behave when faced with bullying and to analyse how their behaviour relates to moral disengagement and both positive and negative emotions, specifically supportive behaviour for victims. In the present study 1029 students participated, all of whom came from Secondary Education, Training Cycles and Higher Secondary Education Stages in Spain. The regression analysis confirmed that being male increased the likelihood of performing active and passive behaviours. Conversely, being female involved displaying more proactive behaviours. Feeling positive/pleasant emotions about bullying increased active behaviour. Feeling negative/unpleasant emotions about bullying increased behaviour in the proactive behavior group. Adolescents should be aware that stopping bullying is their personal responsibility, which depends on their behaviour with the victim. Interventions must aim to reduce moral disengagement and positive emotions about bullying by increasing negative emotions about such behaviour. Full article
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