Special Issue "Reflective Learning in Higher Education"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Education and Approaches".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 December 2019).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Jordi Colomer Feliu
Website
Guest Editor
Universitat de Girona, Girona, Spain
Interests: Sustainable Development Goals; Education Sustainable Competences; Cooperative and Reflective Learning; Cross-Educational Approaches; Higher Education.
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue will comprise a selection of papers addressing “Reflective Learning in Higher Education”. The Sustainability journal seeks papers addressing the development of both reflective teaching and learning in higher education to promote sustainable education. Papers from all disciplines, (i.e., not only education, psychology, social sciences, sciences, nursing, and engineering disciplines, but also from multidisciplinary studies) where reflection is at the core sustainable development, are welcome.

Papers may explore reflection within higher education and/or on practice in higher education, not only as in-house and external individuals and collective initiatives and activities, that focus on reflection and the generation of knowledge, but also on the transformation outputs of the learning communities. Emphasis on both reflective practices and communities and linking reflective learning and the development of professional identity through reflection are also welcome.

Papers may also address the connections between theoretical and applied research on reflective practices, knowledge generation in all areas, professional practice and identity, through theoretical definition, situated and grounded practice, and transformative knowledge.

Prof. Jordi Colomer Feliu
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Sustainable education
  • reflective learning
  • higher education

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Reflective Learning in Higher Education: Active Methodologies for Transformative Practices
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3827; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093827 - 08 May 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 800
Abstract
In this Special Issue, Reflective Learning in Higher Education explores on tertiary education and its practices. It looks at in-house and external individuals, and collective initiatives and activities that centre on generating and reflecting on knowledge. It also explores the transformation output of [...] Read more.
In this Special Issue, Reflective Learning in Higher Education explores on tertiary education and its practices. It looks at in-house and external individuals, and collective initiatives and activities that centre on generating and reflecting on knowledge. It also explores the transformation output of learning communities, the communities themselves and their reflective practices, and discusses how reflective learning and developing one’s professional identity through reflection are linked. The connections between the theoretical and applied research on reflective practices, knowledge generation in all areas, professional practice and identity through theoretical definition, situated and grounded practice and transformative knowledge are also considered. The nine manuscripts in this Special Issue manifest that reflective learning is likely to (i) help forge students’ professional identity and ensure sustainable competences are effectively developed, (ii) transform students’ preconceived perspectives and social preferences to foster new reasoned action plans for decision-making, (iii) promote understanding one’s personal professional strengths and limitations and develop the ability to identify resources and ways to solve existing and/or future professional challenges and (iv) modify the students’ beliefs, attitudes, and daily behaviour to develop competences that will ultimately result in promoting sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reflective Learning in Higher Education) Printed Edition available

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Academic Literacy and Student Diversity: Evaluating a Curriculum-Integrated Inclusive Practice Intervention in the United Kingdom
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1155; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031155 - 06 Feb 2020
Viewed by 762
Abstract
The sustainability of universities is based, among other aspects, on their ability to adapt to changes and the needs of students, an increasingly diverse population. In this sense, Academic literacy provision at universities tends to be centralized and to offer language support for [...] Read more.
The sustainability of universities is based, among other aspects, on their ability to adapt to changes and the needs of students, an increasingly diverse population. In this sense, Academic literacy provision at universities tends to be centralized and to offer language support for general academic literacy purposes rather than language development that responds in a more nuanced way to the particular literacy needs of students’ disciplines. Yet, in recent years, several studies have supported the integration of academic literacy into subject teaching outlining the principles of an inclusive model of academic literacy instruction. This paper draws on a theoretical framework developed by Wingate to evaluate a curriculum-integrated inclusive practice intervention in the United Kingdom with students from a first-year credit-bearing module at Middlesex University Business School. The study used a mixed methods approach that includes a literature review, secondary data, feedback questionnaire and a focus group to evaluate our teaching method and reflect on the collaboration of the team members to develop this inclusive pedagogical approach. The findings suggest that, on the whole, this intervention was perceived by both the module teaching team and students as positive, welcoming and often crucial for supporting undergraduate students into the disciplinary discourse of their subject of study. Yet, recommendations were made with respect to developing better guidelines for subject lecturers on how to deliver the integrated academic literacy as well as the importance of the participation of students, student learning assistants and graduate teaching assistants in the design of the intervention. This study contributes to the literature on inclusive practice intervention and pedagogical approaches to integrating academic literacy into subject teaching for a diverse student population, contributing to the social sustainability of the universities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reflective Learning in Higher Education) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
University Students’ Perspectives on Reflective Learning: Psychometric Properties of the Eight-Cultural-Forces Scale
Sustainability 2020, 12(2), 729; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12020729 - 19 Jan 2020
Viewed by 919
Abstract
This study emerges from the development of higher-order thinking skills recognised as influential attributes to be considered for quality of learning in preservice teachers; hence, this quantitative research is a systematic attempt to obtain metric-quality pieces of evidence for identifying university students’ perspectives [...] Read more.
This study emerges from the development of higher-order thinking skills recognised as influential attributes to be considered for quality of learning in preservice teachers; hence, this quantitative research is a systematic attempt to obtain metric-quality pieces of evidence for identifying university students’ perspectives on reflective learning standards throughout their initial training period utilising an adapted cultural-forces scale. The earlier mentioned tool is an adaptation of Ritchhart’s scale (2015) for the assessment of cultural forces from the model of the Culture of Thinking. The selected sample of preservice teachers encompasses 700 university students of education from 7 faculties of education in Spain. Research results reveal that the use of the scale displayed high reliability and suitability. Similarly, significant statistical differences were observed in the eight scales of cultural forces assessment, where the prime-valued by the students were interactions, expectations, environment, language and time. Apropos of statistics, research results manifest as relevant. Such significance reveals how classroom culture and practical strategies acquire meaning and show connections with learning purposes—likewise with the developmental encouragement of cognitive skills and dispositions towards reflective learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reflective Learning in Higher Education) Printed Edition available
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Pre-Service Teachers’ Reflections on Cooperative Learning: Instructional Approaches and Identity Construction
Sustainability 2019, 11(21), 5970; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11215970 - 27 Oct 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 1254
Abstract
This paper focusses on university pre-service teachers developing cooperative physical challenges within reflective and cooperative learning frameworks. The pre-service teachers were involved in reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action and contemplated their professional identity in both reflective narratives and focus group discussions. The students’ reflections were [...] Read more.
This paper focusses on university pre-service teachers developing cooperative physical challenges within reflective and cooperative learning frameworks. The pre-service teachers were involved in reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action and contemplated their professional identity in both reflective narratives and focus group discussions. The students’ reflections were scored using two rubrics. The first elements scored from the pre-service teacher’s reflective narratives included the focus of the reflection, awareness of previous beliefs, knowledge, and experiences, inquiring and focusing on possible actions through questions and hypotheses, and arguing for concrete learning objectives. The second rubric scored elements of the pre-service teachers’ professional identity, including self-esteem, task perception, job motivation, and expectations about future jobs. The results from the instructional cooperative approaches based on the reflections on the in-practice at a primary school disclosed the differences between them, with the non-structured approach scoring higher than the structured one. The cooperative challenges, when embedded in the reflection process, profoundly helped pre-service teachers to identify aspects of their professional identity that would ensure an effective intake of sustainable competences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reflective Learning in Higher Education) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Introducing ERP Concepts to IT Students Using an Experiential Learning Approach with an Emphasis on Reflection
Sustainability 2019, 11(18), 4992; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11184992 - 12 Sep 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 880
Abstract
The introduction of enterprise resource planning (ERP) concepts to IT students entails many challenges. Due to the system’s complexity, newcomers need an extensive amount of time to be able to use it independently. Additionally, the learning preferences and characteristics of digital natives differ [...] Read more.
The introduction of enterprise resource planning (ERP) concepts to IT students entails many challenges. Due to the system’s complexity, newcomers need an extensive amount of time to be able to use it independently. Additionally, the learning preferences and characteristics of digital natives differ significantly from previous generations. Therefore, the use of alternative learning approaches is desirable. To achieve the best possible learning outcomes, it is advisable to implement learning approaches that require students’ active participation, for example, an experiential learning approach. A variation is an ERPsim business simulation game, which we used within the ERP systems course. The game is implemented in sequential rounds, whereby each round ends with a review of the collected experiences. The simulation game was used at the beginning of the course to ease the introduction of ERP concepts for IT-related students. This paper is the result of three years of research into the perceived usability of SAP ERP introduced with the business simulation game, combined with the results of a study evaluating students’ opinions, knowledge, and skills. Perceived usability was measured using a System Usability Scale (SUS), while the students’ experiences were gathered using a self-evaluation questionnaire. The study revealed the positive impact of the experiential learning approach that was used. Students evaluated the usability of SAP ERP as OK, and empirical analysis confirmed that the use of the simulation game for introducing the ERP concepts resulted in anticipated knowledge and skills, while increasing the students’ intent for future engagement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reflective Learning in Higher Education) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
The Rich Picture Method: A Simple Tool for Reflective Teaching and Learning about Sustainable Food Systems
Sustainability 2019, 11(18), 4815; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11184815 - 04 Sep 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1212
Abstract
The World Food System Summer School is an innovative two-week course that seeks to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the next generation of decision makers to build sustainable food systems. Meaningful learning, where the participant is able to relate new information [...] Read more.
The World Food System Summer School is an innovative two-week course that seeks to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes of the next generation of decision makers to build sustainable food systems. Meaningful learning, where the participant is able to relate new information to existing knowledge, is a critical part of education about complex systems and requires the integration of reflective approaches to teaching and learning. We adapted the rich picture method in three summer schools in Switzerland, South Africa and Côte d’Ivoire (74 participants with 29 nationalities) to support the reflection of participants on their knowledge gained on complex food systems. Coding and comparing 51 pairs of pre- and post-course pictures of food systems clearly demonstrated newly gained knowledge: The number of sub-categories drawn significantly increased from 11 to 19 in the post-course pictures, the largest increase occurred for environmental sustainability (57%). The rich picture method is a highly valuable and simple tool to gain insight into how participants’ knowledge changes and where there are gaps in meeting the learning objectives. This is particularly useful within a highly diverse participant cohort, as it allows participants to discuss and reflect on their own learning experience in a personalized way. Additionally, the rich picture method provides insights for faculty to improve their approaches to teaching on food systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reflective Learning in Higher Education) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Extracurricular Activities in Higher Education and the Promotion of Reflective Learning for Sustainability
Sustainability 2019, 11(17), 4521; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11174521 - 21 Aug 2019
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1447
Abstract
The objective of higher education institutions is to integrate reflective learning that contributes to the development of a greater awareness among individuals of the importance of facing the 21st century’s sustainability challenges. This paper analyzes the impact of an extracurricular volunteer activity in [...] Read more.
The objective of higher education institutions is to integrate reflective learning that contributes to the development of a greater awareness among individuals of the importance of facing the 21st century’s sustainability challenges. This paper analyzes the impact of an extracurricular volunteer activity in Tangier, Morocco in the development of student reflection at a Spanish university. To this end, two objectives were proposed: (1) to explore the students’ primary reflections of the experience, and (2) analyze the students’ perceptions of the importance of participating in the experience in order to develop reflective learning. In the study, in-depth interviews were conducted with 23 students who participated in the volunteer activity. Data analysis was carried out using Iramuteq software to conduct a descending hierarchical classification (DHC), and MAXQDA software to conduct a constant comparison analysis. This research highlights the value of voluntary extracurricular activities in the development of reflections that guide change in the beliefs, attitudes, and daily behaviors of students that ultimately result in sustainability. Due to this, not only is it considered essential that students participate in social projects, but also that they undertake these projects with peers and instructors who can create environments of support and trust. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reflective Learning in Higher Education) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Active Learning on Trust and Reciprocity for Undergraduates
Sustainability 2019, 11(16), 4399; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11164399 - 14 Aug 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 750
Abstract
We propose a teaching activity aimed at promoting social values, such as trust and reciprocity, among undergraduate students in economics and related degrees. We present our pilot experience of what we call RED–‘Reading–Experiment–Discussion’, a three-step activity as part of a class of a [...] Read more.
We propose a teaching activity aimed at promoting social values, such as trust and reciprocity, among undergraduate students in economics and related degrees. We present our pilot experience of what we call RED–‘Reading–Experiment–Discussion’, a three-step activity as part of a class of a specific module at the University of Valencia. During the Reading step, we encourage students to reflect, learn, and critically think about social values. In the second step, Experiment, students make decisions in a trust game experiment, a game created to measure trust and reciprocity in economic environments. Students then give opinions through a post-experiment questionnaire. Our research hypotheses are tested by using non-parametric methods. We also investigate the association between students’ decisions and their attitudinal and sociodemographic characteristics by linear regression analysis. Experimental data show that decisions on trust and reciprocity are dependent on earnings information and that, on average, females trust more than males. Finally, in the Discussion step, the learning is reinforced by sharing the readings about morals and the experimental decisions. In short, RED may be of great help in transmitting to students the role of social preferences in individual decision making. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reflective Learning in Higher Education) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Advancing towards a Transformational Professional Competence Model through Reflective Learning and Sustainability: The Case of Mathematics Teacher Education
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4039; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11154039 - 26 Jul 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1814
Abstract
The aim of this study was to begin to characterize the elements of teacher educators’ professional practice that promote the transformation of prior knowledge, experiences, and system beliefs into professional competence, based on reflective learning and education for sustainability. To obtain data, 30 [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to begin to characterize the elements of teacher educators’ professional practice that promote the transformation of prior knowledge, experiences, and system beliefs into professional competence, based on reflective learning and education for sustainability. To obtain data, 30 class sessions of a mathematics education teacher were analyzed. Five elements of the lecturer’s practice were identified: (1) presents real action; (2) uncovers students’ values and preconceptions and considers them; (3) systematizes them and contrasts them with the ‘ideal’; (4) helps to understand the perspective offered by mathematical and sustainability concepts; (5) helps students develop the new perspective acquired through grounded and reasoned action plans. A key conclusion of the study is that it is prior knowledge, experiences, and beliefs which are transformed if the two agents involved in the learning process (pre-service teachers and university lecturers) are synchronized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reflective Learning in Higher Education) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
A Journey of Self-Reflection in Students’ Perception of Practice and Roles in the Profession
Sustainability 2019, 11(1), 194; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11010194 - 02 Jan 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1914
Abstract
The basis of the study is the findings of scientific research dealing with experiential reflections of university students studying in the special education Bachelor degree study program in Lithuania. The special educator is a teacher of children with special educational needs, an educational [...] Read more.
The basis of the study is the findings of scientific research dealing with experiential reflections of university students studying in the special education Bachelor degree study program in Lithuania. The special educator is a teacher of children with special educational needs, an educational assistance specialist who is able to recognize, assess, and meet children’s special educational needs arising due to disabilities, disorders, or learning difficulties, and to professionally provide special pedagogical assistance in the conditions of inclusive and special education. In order to analyze the experience of prospective special educators who study at the university for four years, first year students were chosen. At the start of their studies at the university, in the first month of their studies, students do their practice in the institutions of the educational system: Pre-school, general, and/or special education institutions. The aim of the practice is to get familiar with the subtleties of the future professional activity. It is maintained that students’ initial experience outlived at the start of studies is important and significant for further studies at the university. The article deals with the results of written reflections of students who have returned from practice. The phenomenological hermeneutics method enabled to disclose students’ experiences in their practical activities during their observational practice, providing deeper understanding of the study area, as a precondition for reflective learning in further university studies, and by interacting with participants of the (self) education process, the article presents future special educators’ practical experiences and perceptions of their roles in the profession. The results disclosed that self-reflection provides students with deeper perception of themselves as people with special educators’ needs and problems, personal strengths and competence limitations that enable them to identify sources and means for solving existing and future professional activity problems. It further reveals that cooperation with family members, university teachers, social pedagogues, teachers, children with special educational needs, sharing experiences with student colleagues could lead to greater self-confidence in oneself as a future specialist. Curiosity and personal initiative enabled students to identify positive and difficult moments of the professional activity and future professional role while learning from experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reflective Learning in Higher Education) Printed Edition available
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