1.1 Using the guide
This guide aims to inspire university teachers and societal collaboration partners. We hope that our societal collaboration partners will learn more about the conditions in universities, programmes and courses and be encouraged to provide universities with challenges suitable in educational settings. The main target group though is university teachers and therefore we offer a number of suggestions throughout the guide that are meant for teachers about to design and offer challenge based courses.
In the first chapter of the guide, we give a brief review of the driving forces that have led to an increase in challenge driven project courses in higher education curricula. We also describe five examples of challenge driven projects and they were chosen as examples of projects that are contributing to the solution of societal challenges. Additionally, some of them are examples of international cooperation and of trans-disciplinary cooperation. In the first chapter, we also offer a Quick guide that summarizes the most important aspects necessary to consider when designing a challenge driven course, possibly for the first time.
Framing motivating tasks is important in order to create active student commitment, but there are also a number of other issues that need to be considered when creating challenge driven education. In our work with teachers experienced in designing and teaching within challenge driven project courses, we have identified further aspects that need careful consideration. We have divided these aspects into three main tensions/challenges described in chapter 2, 3 and 4. In each of the chapters, we also give examples from challenge based courses chosen to illustrate inspiring ways of tackling the main tensions that we focus on and we offer some suggestions regarding important aspects that you need to consider. We also provide recommendations on additional reading and links to web sites. In addition, a few learning activities are described and information regarding some concepts is provided.
The main tensions/challenges are:
- Course Design and Project Tasks – What to work on
In Chapter 2, we discuss and share experiences around setting-up the framework for a project course, on finding relevant and challenging project tasks, on the challenge of balancing the need for a “perfect” solutions or products with the need for learning to take place, whilst recognising that mistakes and conflicts shouldn’t be avoided. Additionally, different learning activities suitable for integration into a project course will be explored.
- Setting up and working with teams of students – Who to work with and how
In Chapter 3, we discuss different approaches to setting up teams. Team processes, feedback, and the role of the teacher as supervisor and coach of both students and teams are also discussed.
- Assessing the project work and solutions – What outcome to expect
Chapter 4 focuses on the assessment of the project work. We discuss aligning intended learning outcomes with assessment tasks and assessment criteria, as well as how to promote active involvement and time on task through assessment tasks. Common assessment forms related to project courses, both formative and summative, are highlighted. We also give some information on IPR issues and finally, we discuss course evaluation as a tool to improve and develop a course.
Finally, chapter 5 contains a few concluding remarks.