Managerial Mindsets in the Academic World: The Crisis of Educational Organizations

Managerial Mindsets in the Academic World: The Crisis of Educational Organizations

Gabriella Giulia Pulcini (University of Camerino, Italy) and Valeria Polzonetti (University of Camerino, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3906-3.ch010
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Academic didactics has started implementing pedagogic strategies that overcome the traditional frontal lecture to reach a new aim: supporting the learning process. According to the leading connectivism principles, which are revolutionizing education, learning processes are a complex and dynamic concept. On one side, new technologies are promoted to support the learners' “cold” cognition. On the other, strategies boasting a “hot” cognition are acquiring more and more importance. The student-teacher relationship is facing change: teachers are required to consolidate their profession and tutor the learning process, regardless of the field of study. These new strategies, although carried out reluctantly, have been successfully implemented in some action research projects highlighting the learners' engagement on one side and the professors' hesitation on the other. This chapter explores this phenomenon.
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In the twenty-first century, the social problems of some people as epidemics, climate changes, nuclear accidents and terrorism, have turned in a problem of all people. When problems involve whole communities, a crisis is produced and affects all systems and therefore education too. But educational system can find the solution because can be an important factor of social renewal.

The necessary change of educational system is well illustrated in “Insegnare a vivere. Manifesto per cambiare il mondo” or “Teaching how to live. A manifesto to change education” the last book of Morin E., in which he explains his thesis that “the crisis of the future”, the historical uncertainty, can be addressed by teachers who have the mission to prepare the future generation to know how to deal with unexpected things. (Morin, 2014, p. 31).

The academic world is feeling the need for a change in the didactic paradigms that have been defining Italian University so far. In view of the many interdisciplinary challenges future graduates will face, the idea of training students mastering multiple well-organized synapses is making its way. These will include specific discipline knowledge as well as soft skills, which mean a dynamic combination of cognitive and meta-cognitive, interpersonal, intellectual and practices abilities, that include communication, creativity, analytical thinking, multitasking and time management. Soft skills are somehow the manifestation of what has metabolized through learning and that at the same time aimed at developing social knowledge building processes (Tryphon & Vonèche, 1996) and a mindful brain (Siegel, 2013). This model refers to a pedagogical connectivism vision, that actually overcomes the constructivist vision, where who learns is in the center of the educative process and builds the knowledge thanks to the interactions with the others. But that happens if the student is aware of the knowledge nature and has a critic spirit that allows him to select the useful information to grow and improve. Modern teachers should be highly competent and enlightened, not only as far as theory and practice are concerned but also in managing each aspect of the learning.

Even though science teachers do not have to be competent in psychology and neuroscience, they must possess good command of the strategies effectively supporting didactics. These include metacognitive strategies which allow:

  • A deeper understanding of the learners, thus designing materials and content aimed at fulfilling their specific needs

  • Learners to address their self-assessment and self-regulated learning skills, which will increase their understanding of their own learning style and, accordingly, choose a way to face their action points.

This opens to some questions: Who trains these didactics-competent teachers? Who gives feedback on the implemented teaching methods? What kind of feedback is to be given?

Most Universities rely on students’ judgment, which is exclusively based on personal experience, to assess the quality of teaching methods.

Objective didactics assessment is not easy. If teachers are judged based solely on their availability, the feedback will only take into consideration meeting hours and overlook basic aspects such as communicative style, voice pitch, meeting environment, strategies for learners with special needs and email replies. Sometimes teachers themselves overlook sensitivity and the fundamental parameters aforementioned, either unwittingly or because it is not considered relevant to their academic career development.

Despite being consistent with all academic contexts, what stated above may be particularly relevant to Science teaching. Science teachers are often unaware of some learning-related concepts such as metacognition, teaching and learning styles and about the factors that could affect learning as communication and emotions.

Many learners receive little or no exposure to factors crucial to a successful educational experience hereby intended as continuous competence development. Being aware of the self- regulation principles that enable the learning process as well as motivation are the key to learners’ development.

In order to achieve this change, there needs a managerial mindset, so teachers are able to teach what is knowledge in his complexity and changeability.

Science teachers gaps in cognitive strategies are identified and analyzed in an article written by Physics Professor Persico E. (1956)

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