Entrepreneurial education at Kvennaskólinn in Reykjavík, Iceland: Interview with Ásdís Ingólfsdóttir

The PEAT-EU team in Iceland recently spoke with Ásdís Ingólfsdóttir, teacher at Kvennaskólinn in Reykjavík, Iceland, about her experiences with entrepreneurship education. Ásdís has been teaching at Kvennaskólinn, colloquially referred to as “Kvennó”, since 2000. Kvennó is an upper-secondary school that offers programs in maths, sociology, and humanities. Ásdís has a very diverse background and teaches several subjects; chemistry, economics and finance. She has also been the Project manager of Kvennó’s foreign exchanges for the last nine years. So, Ásdís has a lot of experience as a teacher. She enjoys teaching and likes to try new things, which she considers important in the school environment as the world is changing and young people today need new approaches to learning. Among the things she has been experimenting with is a practical course on entrepreneurship. Her students in that course recently entered and won a prize for best food company in the Junior Achievement Programme’s Young Entrepreneurs competition.

Ásdís, how do entrepreneurial competences figure in your teaching?

In my teaching in general (in chemistry and economics) the competence of entrepreneurship has not been formally outlined or assessed. Even though in some assignments students have to use creativity and entrepreneurial competences to fulfil the assignment. In my entrepreneurship course it is the main focus.

This is a new course that is offered to second and third year students (17 – 18 years old). And, I did actually decide that it was very important that students at my school had the opportunity to learn this competence. I had heard about the JA Programme when I went on an Erasmus Plus job shadowing visit to Sweden. There, I experienced teaching entrepreneurship and the way students were learning and what they learned just got to me. This was something I wanted for my students and I think it is very important that as many students as possible experience this way of thinking and working on assignments. There, I mean the way that enhances their competence of entrepreneurship.

What’s the best context to develop entrepreneurial competences? Curricular or extracurricular contexts? Through projects?

Being a teacher I think that the curricular approach is the most effective way of developing this sort of competence. I know that in the Icelandic upper-secondary schools the extracurricular work that students are doing enhances their skills in this field. But, after two years of teaching bigger groups and leading them towards a goal I think that it is the best way, or most effective. The teaching methods were new to me in the beginning and I had a hard time “letting go” and trusting the students. After the second time, I saw that students are very capable and learn/accomplish much more than I could imagine they could during the four-month long course.

“I think that the curricular approach is the most effective way of developing entrepreneurial competences.”

What, exactly, do you assess, and how? What works for you?

The students only get “passed” or “failed” in the entrepreneurship course. The course is 5 units in total. To pass students have to fulfil certain “obligations” like attending certain events, visiting firms, participating in group work, attending lectures and meetings. They also have to give presentations about their products and company. And, they have to inform the teacher about how the process is advancing; sending emails, photos, etc. to the teacher. Of course, they also come up with a real product that they sell at the Smáralind mall in Reykjavík during the JA competition. All of the students take part in the JA competition. As part of that they complete a written report that is submitted both to the JA and to the teacher of the course. The main pillars of assessment are:

  1. Attendance at school (group work, teachers introduction etc)
  2. Visit to firms
  3. Fablab visit
  4. Presentation
  5. JA participation all events and reporting
  6. Reports

If a student can’t take part in all the above, due to illness for example, it is possible to assess his participation so that he will not fail completely but gets fewer units. That has not happened yet. What has happened is that some students who find the work too hard drop the course.

To what extent are students actively involved in the assessment?

Assessment is discussed in the beginning of the course and the students are well aware of how the assessment is planned. And, they keep track of it (most of them).

The students are involved in peer assessment of the presentations and group work. They are also asked to let the teacher know if anyone is not taking part in groupwork. This is a little too hard for them and they tend to keep it to themselves until the end of the course (after they learn whether they have passed or failed).

How are other stakeholders involved in the assessment?

JA hands out rewards for certain accomplishments. Very early in the process, students aim for getting rewards, for example in the field of food or sustainability, or for the report. So, even though that does not add up to number or grade, it is an incentive to do well and work hard towards the goal.

Is this a widespread practice in Kvennó? If not, what are the main barriers?

Yes and no. It is common to assess chosen subjects in the way that I do, but mostly coursework is calculated as a numerical grade. So the practice of using “passed” or “failed” is not common. It is used if a student comes from another school and starts at our school to assess what the student has already completed in their prior education. Many of my students came and discussed that they wanted a number grade. All of the students that completed the course felt that they had done so well that they wanted to have the same type of grade that they receive for their other courses.

Progression, that is to say, envisaging a coherent and gradual acquisition of the competence is a challenge. What’s your opinion about the EntreComp framework?

I had to look EntreComp up to know what it is. I was not familiar with it. But, when I read about it I totally agree with it. I am very positive towards EntreComp – I agree with the main goals and I hope it helps towards better futures for schools and society.

I would want EntreComp to be better known. I want teachers to see the importance of enhancing our students’ entrepreneurial competence for the future. The future working market will need people with the skills and competences to find new ways to do things and new solutions for our challenges.

“I am very positive towards EntreComp – I agree with the main goals and I hope it helps towards better futures for schools and society. I would want EntreComp to be better known.”

What would you like to see happening in the near future? What would you wish for?

That more students get the opportunity to enhance their entrepreneurial competence and also that the way I teach will be used in other subjects. That is, that entrepreneurship be integrated in all subjects such that it leads to the implementation of new teaching methods.




EntreAssess featured in University Industry Innovation Network magazine

We’re excited to say that an article about our resources and tools for educators is featured in the current issue of the University Industry Innovation Network magazine! The magazine is handed out to over 450 university leaders, practitioners, CEOs, policymakers and academics at the University Industry Interaction Conference (this year it took place between 20 and 22 June in London) and has a special focus on entrepreneurship education. UIIN members also receive a copy.

The online edition of the 2018 Issue 2 magazine can be accessed here.  We’re on page 22!




Fourth Project Newsletter: now out!

Read our latest newsletter here! We’re giving you the run-down of all tools and resources that we made available for you as part of this project and lead you to take your first steps on the EntreAssess journey!

Sign up for future newsletters here and find all past issues here!




Entrepreneurial or innovation, not just another “Buzz” word – thoughts from a teacher educator

The world about us

I think it is fair to say that there are few people that will argue that the world as we know it is not only changing, but over the last years has changed almost beyond recognition. Explosions in technology, particularly digital technology, has meant that we live our lives differently. Social media connects us on a global basis; working practices are flexible. Everything is immediate; everything is connected. We live within a global network, indeed innovation means many things we once believed would only ever exist in the movies or in science fiction are becoming fact. Driverless cars; artificial intelligence, video communications with the other side of the world.

To enable us to take this “brave new world” and make a success of it we need to transform ourselves to be innovative and adaptable to change.  We need to be able to question and challenge our philosophies and be willing to think and react in new and different ways to the opportunities now available to every one of us.

I have always taught my students that as educators we are educating our next generation to operate and live in a world, which is still on the drawing board, a world that is yet to be invented. The revolution of change has not yet finished, new opportunities are waiting. The world is becoming increasingly entrepreneurial and innovative. This being the case, education has to match that innovation.

To enable us to help educate our next generation for these opportunities I would argue that we need to develop new skills, and to me the answer is the EntreComp framework and EntreAssess, for how else do you measure qualities such as creativity and innovation.

But, what do you think?

In my position as a teacher educator I have the opportunity to connect with a wide variety of teachers and academics from a variety of subjects; teaching at a variety of stages. I know some very innovative teachers and I know teachers who only equate entrepreneurial skills with business. Comments like, “yes, that’s all well and good, but I teach Geography, or Maths…” abound. And yes whilst the EntreComp and EntreAssess focuses on three main competences enabling actions  such as dealing with ideas and opportunities, using resources getting into action.

Within these three focal points are further competencies which relate to the brave new world I referred to earlier and I would argue are crucial in supporting and developing the next generation of learners who can embrace change and live their lives to the full.

EntreComp Framework (Bacigalupo et al, 2016)

To support this view I want to ask you to complete a little task, whether you be a teacher of a specialism or whether you have a special interest in a domain of learning, the most important part of your classroom or learning environment should be your learners.

Which one of you doesn’t want an entrepreneurial learner: one who can spot opportunities in life as well as in learning?

A learner who has vision and is creative, a creative learner is able to generate ideas, use divergent thinking to create opportunities and look past what those ideas are to what they could become. A learner who can accomplish all this in a sustainable and ethical manner. Competencies such as this can turn compulsory education into a desire to continue learning throughout life.

How about learners who are able to motivate themselves and others, generating an excitement about learning. Learners who have a resilience to learn from their mistakes and turn that failure into a positive experience; developing the sort of attitude that enables them to take control of their own learning. Learners such as this are likely to be able to recreate the learning to suit their own needs.

There is much evidence that collaboration and social interaction can promote learning, indeed the socio-constructivist learning theories are built on that premise So how about learners who can successfully collaborate with their peers, planning and taking the initiative in the classroom and in life and in doing so becoming able to cope with both ambiguity and risk. If these are the sort of learners we want regardless of discipline, or age, then think about what these learners can contribute as they mature into citizens post education.

The Welsh perspective

Like many countries across Europe, Wales is undergoing massive curriculum change, a change which is starting in our foundation phase and continuing right the way through out secondary education, with hoped for impacts up to Higher Education?

One of the aims of our new education is the creation of a curriculum which will support pupils who are ready for the 21st century and all it has to offer. To do this the review of our current education system, Successful futures (Donaldson 2015), suggests that Wales needs to create a new type of citizen through education that the citizen of Wales should be:

“Ambitious, capable learners who are ready to learn throughout their lives. Enterprising, creative contributors who are ready to play a full part in life and work. Ethical, informed citizens who are ready to be citizens of Wales and the world.”

Four Purposes of Wales (Donaldson, 2015)

I believe this to be an inspiring and exciting aim of Wales and the Welsh curriculum, I also believe that if you unpick what the review means by, Ambitious capable learners; Enterprising Creative contributors; Ethical informed citizens and Healthy, Confident individuals then there is a resonance between developing this “Citizen of Wales” and developing the skills which lie at the heart of the EntreComp and EntreAssess frameworks.

In short we need to promote a culture of creativity in education, a place where our learners can learn by their mistakes, where they have a resilience which allows them to accept failure as a positive learning experience. Where they have the self –efficacy and self-esteem to make things happen.

An education where motivation turns to excitement.

 

Dr Jan Barnes, Senior lecturer in ‘Cross curriculum close to practice research and enquiry’, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Wales (UK)




Developing Entrepreneurship… I’m doing it, but how do I know I’m doing it?

If you are like me and are involved in education and have a desire to develop your learners’ Enterprising and Entrepreneurial (EE) skills then I’m sure that you have wrestled with the same issues I have? Where do I start? What are the key competences I should be developing? How do I go about assessing the progress of my students.

Don’t panic, I have one word for you…ENTREASSESS.

If you want to widen your knowledge of assessment methods for EE skills, then this is it!

As a nation, Wales is currently moving forward with curriculum reform and have identified four purposes of the curriculum. One of which being to develop ‘Enterprising and creative contributors’ who are ready to play a full part in life and work. As a senior lecturer in ‘Creative and Innovative Teaching and Learning’ within the University of Wales Trinity Saint David it is part of my role to respond to this new curriculum focus in education and aid the development of EE skills of my student teachers. As potential primary school teachers, it is an integral aspect of my students training that they are able to not only self-assess their own abilities with EE competences but also know how to effectively develop these with children in primary schools across Wales. As such, it is essential that they are proficient in utilising a variety of EE assessment strategies.

So how could EntreAssess aid your teaching?

One of the strengths of EntreAssess is the well-crafted ‘journey’ of EE skills development it facilitates. Once a brief amount of time is given to engaging with the EntreAssess model it becomes overtly clear that there isn’t one ‘right’ way of utilising this progression model.

The methods and tools for the assessment of EE skills outlined with EntreAssess can be effectively embedded in a wide variety of teaching approaches. For example, in my context, with large groups of adult learners, I conduct dedicated EE sessions utilising the proposed pathway of EntreAssess. Students begin by developing their understanding the importance and relevance of EE skills for both themselves as teachers and their primary learners. Once on-board, learners engage with the self-assessment tool to identify their own strengths and the EE competences they wish to develop further.

My student teachers then identify the most appropriate assessment methods to trial in their professional teaching experience out in schools. The variety and depth of the proposed tools and methods available via the EntreAssess website have enabled Students to target specific assessment methods for specific skill development. Students have found the ‘one pagers’ extremely helpful in aiding their justification for their choices.

‘Cherry picking’ elements from any progression model is sometimes problematic as potentially important or even essential elements of progression can be skipped or lost. However, with EntreAssess, educators can ‘dip’ into the wealth of resources, methods and tools available to meet a specific need already identified in their own context. Jump in a discover a new method of assessment aimed at creativity or explore a variety of tools that assess the ability to manage resources etc.

As a module coordinator, it is my duty to ensure that the structure of my students’ learning is engaging and effective enabling meaningful development. EntreAssess supports my planning for progression and continuity throughout a module. For example, the progression model is used in a ‘check point’ approach. Throughout the year students engage in a number of specific EE sessions that are spread across a number of months over the duration of the module. Each main element of the progression model is a ‘check point’. In between ‘check points’ students self-assess, reflect, engage in their own professional develop activities to further develop specific EE skills and utilise appropriate assessment strategies where appropriate.  The progression model again aids this journey of development by being the much needed ‘map’ that directs, informs and supports the direction of travel for effective assessment of EE skills throughout pre-planned ‘check points’.

If you are involved in the delivery, training or development of EE skills, I highly recommend the EntreAssess progression model to aid your assessment strategies…let the journey begin!

Tom Cox, Senior lecturer in ‘Creative and Innovative Teaching and Learning’, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Wales (UK)




Skills-based assessment in Portugal

This group interview was conducted at Valnalon while a delegation of students from both schools were participating in a transnational learning experience under the umbrella of the EU-funded project ECOOPE, Youth Cooperative Entrepreneurship.  

Hello, please introduce yourselves and your school…

Hi, we are Fernanda Moreira and Margarida Barroso. We teach Geography and History respectively at EBS Pinheiro, a public Primary and Secondary Education school located in a rural area 40 km east from Porto. Our school caters to 1200 students from low socio-economic status of families which makes teaching a challenge.

And we are Marisa Oliveira and Elisabete Rodriges. We teach Maths and French at Colegio Nostra Senhora de Bonança, a catholic primary and secondary school located in a rural area north from Porto. We have 800 students.

EntreAssess is keen to know existing approaches to assessment of the entrepreneurial competence so in your opinion…

What’s the best context to develop this sort of competences? Curricular, extracurricular? Projects?

We want our students to develop argumentation, inquiry and critical thinking skills and be responsive to social challenges. In our opinion this is not possible in a traditional classroom setting alone. We want our students to experience learning in real contexts and projects come in handy. Our projects are multidisciplinary and give students the opportunity to interact with different types of people. Day trips and study visits are also important as students need to realise learning happens both inside and outside the school walls. From a teaching perspective, this requires taking a step back and embracing curiosity and discovery as central values in the learning process. We may equip our students with some tools but they need to be in charge of their own learning. Projects that integrate contents from different areas require careful planning and some flexibility to rearrange curricular contents and timetables.

“We want our students to develop argumentation, inquiry and critical thinking skills and be responsive to social challenges. In our opinion this is not possible in a traditional classroom setting alone.”

But curricula, learning standards and timetables seem to be set in stone and they are seen as constraints by most of the teachers we talk to… How does your school approach this?

Well, our school (EBS Pinheiro) is one of the piloting schools in Projecto de Autonomía e Flexibilidade Curricular (PAFC) (Project on Curricular Flexibility and Autonomy). This is a nation-wide scheme launched by the Ministry of Education this year. It is designed to allow more flexibility and encourage cross-curricular teaching. This means schools have the freedom to tinker with up to 25% of curriculum of a given subject area. So, let’s say we want to design a project involving three different subject areas during this term. We know the total teaching time for each subject, we calculate the 25% and we can combine the resulting amount of hours any way we like.

In any case, you have to bear in mind this is a carefully planned process. We are asked to describe in very precise terms what we intend to achieve, why, and how are we going to assess it. Content-wise we can move things around too. If needed, I may take content from the third term and integrate it in our project for the first term. We have also freedom to decide how we distribute this 25%. Some schools do it weekly but we chunk it at the end of the term. Timetables are rescheduled to accommodate new projects for the new term.

What do you exactly assess and how?

There are two things we assess simultaneously: knowledge and skills. Let us give you an example. Two weeks ago, we launched a project about states involving English and Geography teachers and a group of students. We assessed content (grasping the concept of latitude, longitude) but also ICT Skills as students had to be able to work with Google Earth and information gathering and processing skills. The ability to locate and analyse information was also assessed using a rubric and represented 20% of the final mark of the project. That’s what we find more complicated, striking the right balance in the weighting of items. In our opinion reaching a consensus among teachers involved is absolutely crucial here.

“That’s what we find more complicated, striking the right balance in the weighting of items. In our opinion reaching a consensus among teachers involved is absolutely crucial here.”

What are your favourite assessment tools?

Attitudinal aspects are very important for us. We use rubrics, observation grids but we want to improve integration of formative assessment methods. Traditionally a lot of effort is put into assessing knowledge, but knowledge is only valuable if coupled with the development of competences. So right now, in our school, knowledge, skills and attitudes are equally weighted (33.3% each, e.g. in Geography). Yet changing this paradigm is difficult. Some families are reluctant as they fear this renewed focus on skills and attitudes may have detrimental effects on their children learning and impact negatively on their chances to access university.

“So right now, in our school, knowledge, skills and attitudes are equally weighted (33.3% each, e.g. in Geography). Yet changing this paradigm is difficult. Some families are reluctant as they fear this renewed focus on skills and attitudes may have detrimental effects on their children learning and impact negatively on their chances to access university.”

When and how often do you assess these competences?

Every term we have an intermediate and final assessment. The teaching team meets twice per term to discuss competence development of every student on an individual basis. Mid-term assessment is only qualitative; no marks are given. Parents receive a written report where teachers outline specific strategies to improve students’ performance.

To what extent are students actively involved in the assessment? What about other stakeholders?

Students are asked to self-assess at the end of the term. On top of that, every project we do includes self-assessment opportunities. However, when it comes to marking, self-assessment is not combined with teacher-directed assessment. We use it primarily to double-check if we are right in our perception about a student. We have also found some students have a really hard time in identifying their level of performance. Some tend to underestimate themselves while others hold themselves in far too high esteem.

Parent representatives participate in this mid-term assessment meeting. And just recently, parents receive access so that they can follow the session via streaming.

We are also used to being observed by a colleague. Teacher observations happen twice per term. It is reciprocal, I observe a colleague and she observes me. This is followed by a face-to-face meeting to discuss and improve our teaching and assessment strategies.

Do you feel you’re well trained in competence-based assessment?

We need more training, for sure. There’s not a lot of training opportunities and courses tend to be too theoretical. So we sit down and listen instead of putting skills into practice. It would be great to have the chance to work with other colleagues and build things together. Again, it’s a matter of time. Training comes to an end and we simply cannot devote time to reflect on what we’ve been told, let alone considering the option to put things into practice.

“There’s not a lot of training opportunities and courses tend to be too theoretical.”

Progression, that is to say, envisaging a coherent and gradual acquisition of the competence is a challenge. What’s your opinion about this?

Right now progression is simply not discussed at all but it will be very important to make clear to our students where they are heading. The big problem here is lack of time. There’s some many things we have to do as teachers that we can only but skip things as important as this one. Our teaching workload is huge but we definitely need to find some time to sit down, discuss and plan what can be done about progression.

 

Fernanda, Margarida, Marisa and Elisabete spoke to Valnalon’s Ivan Diego.




Popping up a shop

Real life experiences are all part of becoming entrepreneurial, but what does that feel like to a year 1/2 pupil (ISCED Level 1 equivalent)? How do they know a good idea from a weaker one and can they articulate their decisions?

Craigfelen Primary School – an entrepreneurial school in a challenging area of Swansea

Craigfelen Primary School in Wales has its own pupil run bakery, a cafe and a special ‘Spider Bank’ where pupils can save for new ideas, and the latest is a pop-up shop. The school is set in a challenging area of Swansea and has to teach through both the medium of English and Welsh, so the extra challenge of being bilingual is an every-day consideration.

These bright pupils had asked their teacher to invite me, and following some tweets where they had introduced themselves, I popped in to meet the 5-7 years olds to see how things were progressing. I did this with an EntreAssess eye to see how they were understanding and managing the new opportunities that this idea presented.

This wasn’t teacher assessment, this was self and peer assessment

The first thing that struck me was how well Mrs Roberts, the teacher, managed to stay quiet, and allowed the children to speak for themselves, which is a skill in itself. The next was that with one single question to the class, the teacher had raised their curiosity to such an extent that the pupils were already guessing what I’d say, and had prepared a one page ‘research and guess’ page on me before my arrival. Not many University students do that!

Teacher Jamie Taylor leads an EntreComp-based self-development session for his fellow Craigfelen teachers

The teaching team at Craigfelen have engaged with EntreComp since its inception, and were amongst the first in Wales to undertake the formal teacher training that my University offers. What’s more, one of these teachers, Mr Taylor, had also run his own sessions for the staff, so they were well versed in the various dimensions. These align with Wales’ new future proofing education strategy ‘Successful Futures’, which calls for learners to become creative enterprising contributors to society.

Enthusiasm from the word go

The pupils told me that that the school had offered them the old local Post Office, which their mums and dads were very sad about closing down, so they wanted to revitalize it. So whose ideas were being used here I wondered? Whilst the school had negotiated the legal issues, it soon became clear that the pupils were developing everything else.

The constant ‘hands up’ to respond to my questions was overwhelming, and the enthusiasm transparent from the word go. The pupils knew that they had to mobilize others and their resources, work in teams and play to their strengths. The levels of self-awareness became apparent when conflict resolution was managed through the development of a ‘crazy corner’ in the shop for wacky ideas that may not work; yet gave all pupils a chance to express their creativity and visioning skills. The value of these ideas would be learned through taking an initiative and learning through experience.

The levels of self-awareness became apparent when conflict resolution was managed through the development of a ‘crazy corner’ in the shop for wacky ideas that may not work; yet gave all pupils a chance to express their creativity and visioning skills.

Three groups had been formed in a class of over 20 pupils, and each group were engaged in fun and friendly competition with each other, based primarily on who had the best ideas. This was something I had to probe, and I soon found out that they had many ideas, had linked and connected these to make new ideas and were in the midst of testing them against their profiles of imagined customers. Mums, dads, aunties and uncles were drawn to help explain their likes and dislikes, and brothers and sisters drawn to express what they would persuade their parents to buy them! Even details like the colour of their mum’s handbag came into the decision making process.

Every question I asked resulted in a sea of hands in the air and ever-complex levels of creative combinations. Cookie makers and pop up card designers had joined teams to make ethically sourced pop up cookie presents and crafted clay, and story-telling were combining to make a new type of book, one that could be used to help young children to develop their own new ideas.

Learners had interpreted EntreComp into their own words

I left exhausted, and on the way home reflected on an experience where these young learners had interpreted EntreComp into their own words, could articulate their self and group development and were providing opportunities for others of their own age to learn.

I left exhausted, and on the way home reflected on an experience where these young learners had interpreted EntreComp into their own words, could articulate their self and group development and were providing opportunities for others of their own age to learn. Yes the money would be going into their own school bank, but everyone knew the reasons for this and could express the opportunities that having such funds provided. It also struck me how little the teacher had said, simply because she didn’t need to add a word when the pupils could do it for themselves.

Pupil power – Andy hears about Pop Up shop ideas, evaluations and enjoys a little teacher training – from the pupils of Craigfelen Primary School

Thanks to Headteacher Alison Williams who, on behalf of the pupils, arranged the visit and details such as permissions for photographs, I think I learned a lot that day, but the pictures probably express much more than I can in the words of this blog.

By Prof. Andy Penaluna, Director of the International Institute for Creative Entrepreneurial Development, University of Wales Trinity Saint David




EntreAssess presented at eMadrid seminar

On 19 January, Rebecca Weicht of our partner Bantani Education presented EntreAssess as part of an eMadrid seminar at the Technical University of Madrid.

She spoke about EntreAssess in the framework of entrepreneurial skills as laid out in the EntreComp framework before lecturers and students.

Find the presentation and a video recording of the talk here.

 

 




EntreAssess featured in EntreComp into Action

Great news! The EntreAssess project and its tools is featured in the newly published EntreComp into Action – Get inspired, make it happen: A user guide to the European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework.

Find us as Tool 16 (p.136-137) in the guide.

The EntreComp user guide to help individuals and organisations explore why, when and how they can use EntreComp, the Entrepreneurship Competence Framework published by the European Commission in 2016.

 




Value creation pedagogy in praxis – learning from a Swedish primary school

Ulrica Skålberg and Lina Gustavsson are primary school teachers in Björlandagården, a municipal primary school in Gothenburg. The school has 420 pupils aged 6 to 12. They tell us how they use the LoopMe social learning media tool in their school.

Tell us about applying the value creation pedagogy and using LoopMe in your school?

Ulrica Skålberg and Lina Gustavsson

Ulrica: We learnt about the value creation pedagogy through an EU-funded project that we took part in. It took us a while to understand what learning through value creation really means, that this way of learning is not a definitive goal in itself, but an ongoing process. A new approach has been developed among us teachers. We moved away from the need to keep an eye on everything to instead focussing on keeping the learning process alive and constantly ask the question “For whom, outside of this class or school, is this knowledge (or skills) valuable today?” and then focus on that. This is the core of value creation pedagogy: pupils do not learn for the teacher, the school or the grade. They also do not learn only for their own personal development. Instead, we focus on using the knowledge in reality outside the classroom, thus creating value for other people.

Lina: Previously we had already reached the goal mentally before we even started working with our pupils. Now there is a completely different interaction where we develop the learning process together. Everyone finds their role and is allowed to be who they want to be. It enables learning based on each pupil’s needs and level. When the pupils learn to use the knowledge outside the school in other contexts and create value for people outside the school, something new happens. Cohesion in the pupil group grows stronger. Another effect that has become clear over time is an increased parental involvement.

Ulrica: The pupils’ value creation gives a great impact on the development inside and outside the school. Our teacher team are becoming more confident in our work developing entrepreneurial competencies among our pupils and are convinced that the value creation learning method is an important way for developing the school and the learning processes.

You are using LoopMe to support the value creation pedagogy. Tell us about how you benefit from the tool?

Ulrica: The best thing with LoopMe is that all pupils get heard. During ongoing work, we can take part in reflections, feelings, learning, analysis, opinions and knowledge by using the pupils to learn what they are experiencing and the process in progress, both in and around learning. Should disagreement or difficulties occur, this will be ventilated directly in the tool and we as teachers will then be able to coach and support where it is necessary. We can also highlight important discussion areas and topics that we may not have planned from the beginning, but as pupils express their needs around.

Lina: In large groups and messy classroom environments, not everyone is heard. Not everybody dares to speak up. Equally, time is a factor: some pupils do not want to claim the teacher’s time. Then, LoopMe becomes a great channel that allows a space to communicate with a recipient. The pupils really care about this channel, they feel that LoopMe adds value. They take the work very serious and show great respect for this opportunity. Many vent via LoopMe and reflect on much more than just knowledge. The pupils think that this way to communicate is more natural for them and therefore they become more strengthened in themselves.

The use of LoopMe fosters good relationships, how so?

Lina: Good relationships where we feel affirmed are the basis for safe individuals. In order to focus on learning, we need to feel accepted and safe in the environment where this will happen. Our pupils have now really made looping a habit. Among other, we encourage them to reflect on friendships, relationships, teaching and lesson content. That way we can really capture frustrations of different kinds and at different levels. We get real-time input and can react quickly, sometimes instantly. If we had not worked with LoopMe, it could have been years without discovering conflicts, for example.

Ulrica: The pupils grow aware of how teachers and management are able to quickly access the data they produce, and then act on it. We see that trust and confidence among them grows. It also becomes easier to make changes when something is not working. Pupils take greater responsibility for actively influencing and changing when they have a communication channel that works.

A research team from Chalmers University of Technology has also followed you and your pupils during the last three years in order to measure impact in learning outcomes among the pupils. What effects did they see?

Lina: The research team confirmed our view that the motivation and in-depth learning increased significantly when working with value creation. For the researchers it was very clear that when the school work feels authentic for the pupils, both the motivation and subject knowledge are strengthened. In addition, the pupil’s skills, such as communication, social interaction, courage and perseverance, are developed. The pupils, in parallel with the acquisition of knowledge, also achieve personal maturity and self-awareness.

The research team confirmed that the motivation and in-depth learning increased significantly when working with value creation. For the researchers it was very clear that when the school work feels authentic for the pupils, both the motivation and subject knowledge are strengthened. In addition, the pupil’s skills, such as communication, social interaction, courage and perseverance, are developed. The pupils, in parallel with the acquisition of knowledge, also achieve personal maturity and self-awareness.” Lina Gustavsson

What is the next step for you?

Ulrica: During the first three years, it was only our teacher team that was working with value creation pedagogy, but since last year all teachers at Björlandagården are participating in a training programme to develop their teaching in value creation and the work is continuously evaluated and developed at the school’s teacher conferences. In order for this development to continue, a supportive school management and teachers who dare to fail along the way is required. At Björlandagården we have both, so it feels very hopeful for the future. 

Ulrica and Lina were originally interviewed for an article in Swedish by Annica Andersson, reporter and publisher at web magazine EdTech4 Change.

This blog post was edited and translated by Carin Sävetun, Me Analytics.