Espacios. Vol. 35 (Nº 4) Año 2014. Pág. 2
Creative process for learning in distance education: An attitudinal self-evaluation
Processo criativo para a aprendizagem na educação a distância: Uma auto-avaliação de atitude
Recibido: 06/01/14 • Aprobado: 12/02/14
In the search for competences and abilities in face of the new challenges in the society of knowledge a number of teaching methodologies arise, which aim at integrating the student to the activities in distance education, and to improve the learning process. In tandem with the search for excellence, which guides the procedures of Brazil Open University (UAB), and in accordance with its role of active and critical agent for the development of society, comes the model for attitudinal self-evaluation as a tool for stimulating and developing abilities relevant to individual goals and to team goals in with a view to improve learning.
The attitudinal self-evaluation model is part in the methodology of the seven steps, which has been used in the Programa de Capacitação Continuada (Continuing Education Program) at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, which aims at the preparation of tutors and coordinators of regional poles, which integrate the program of the Brazil Open University since 2006 (Moraes; Vieira; Pereira, 2009).
Recently applied to the graduate students in Public Administration offered at a distance by means of the Virtual Learning Environment (Ambiente Virtual de Ensino Aprendizagem - AVEA), both that methodology and the continued evaluation procedure showed to add motivational value to the learning process. The results also show that the use of abilities and competences that characterize the profile of the innovative agent in Distance Education (DE), which are fundamental in that methodology, do favor self-knowledge not just in the attitudinal performance of the student, but it also helps in the process of content learning.
The gain of more autonomy and creativity associated to the feeling of belonging and of group and individual self-fulfillment should appear in attitudes of persistence and continuity, not only in the course selected by the student, but in his or her updating of the characteristics demanded by the current professional profile. In relation to the educational project, one expects that the seven steps methodology contributes to the decrease in the high numbers of evasion, which still persists in the venture to democratize education in Brazil and which is sustained by DE.
2.1 From the seven steps to an innovative profile in Distance Education
The involvement since 1998 between researchers in DE and in Entrepreneurship at UFSC gave birth to academic works and to innovative practices that were well acknowledged in Brazil and abroad (Silva Durand; Bazzo, 2002). In such a multidisciplinary relationship the Methodology of the Seven Steps was organized and substantiated. Its employment and validation occurred simultaneously both in modalities face-to-face and at a distance, to diverse publics. In the first case, it was used with students from public schools and with teachers from public and private schools at the elementary level (Pereira; Souza; Gauthier, 2000). In the second case, it was used with Graduate Programs at a distance, using videoconference as the main media and the Internet as its tool (Moraes et. al., 2000).
The attitudinal self-evaluation model that is here presented as a tool in such a methodological approach is related to a constant evaluation, a fundamental item for its successful employment. The building and development of an agent’s profile who is able of innovate in the modality at a distance is the main goal of the psycho-pedagogical practice here substantiated.
The modernization of education has acquired great importance in all sectors of society and thus it is necessary to discover in the pedagogies and psychologies, in their theories and procedures, how must people behave in face of their own contradictions. Researchers on the realm of work (Bridges, 1995; Cattani, 1996; Catapan et. al., 1999; Sennet, 2008), who also deal with such personal consequences and who consider contemporary subjects as living adrift (economically, socially and morally) make an alert on the risks of discarding contradiction in the formation of individuals in a context of competition and social change.
The initial idea, as the first step in a project of this nature must give way to validation, which shall hold as a measure those needs to which it must answer. The third step is to plan how to do it, choosing an adequate partner for a successful execution of the idea that was shared. The evaluation, as the sixth step, demands attention to the advantages that the experience with the procedures offers in terms of gain of abilities. That is the step that allows the group to reorganize and which ensures the continuity of the vital process, making it possible to resume constantly those projects and accomplishments. In that last movement the seventh and the first steps coincide, but although they coincide in practice, they express differences in the development of the psycho cognitive cycle.
“The concept of enterprising intelligence, which is present in the methodological approach of this work, corresponds not only to the ability of an individual to make a decision based on contradiction, but on an individual who always feels stimulated to reflect on his or her accomplishments. The ability to increasingly understand, while experimenting and practicing those elements that make possible the execution of the individual life project along with the social life project is here considered as a fundamental intellectual tool to mold the innovative profile of the present and of the future” (Pereira, 2001).
From that aspect the movement marks the steps that signal to an “infinite” movement of constant learning, which must sustain enterprising intelligence that is capable of surviving and of generating profit and richness. Planning, discipline, flexibility and reward must improve the creative ability to accomplish of all agents involved in this process, and not just the students (Franzoni; Pereira; Muxfeldt, 2002).
2.2 From self-evaluation to an innovative profile in Distance Education
Considering the focus on the goals of the virtual environment as an open teaching tool, the use of a self-evaluative methodology also comes as a creative way for improving the learning process by means of self-knowledge and as a complement to the exercise of those characteristics that comprise the profile of a student at a distance.
However, one must insist that the lack or rarity of preceding models already tried in DE in educational institutions situate teachers, tutors and students in common learning situations. Such a fact makes indispensable to accept that everyone is an apprentice in such a process of interaction and also key actors for the continued evaluation to become an element for the building of the model and of group growth.
In this case the attitude of the student facing self-evaluation must be that of one who is in search for results that create opportunities and wants to acquire important characteristics for a student at a distance, like autonomy, collaboration and cooperation. Such a search for balance and self-fulfillment must be guided by a reflection on the implied contradiction. One must also consider that certain habits and attitudes, though rejected in theory are well rooted and active in everyday practice and are not a reference for the expected results. Thus, (self) evaluation must be considered as efficient as it is capable of communicating to those involved in the process were each one is situated in the plan for individual and group growth in the formation of everyone.
Evaluation as a process of continuous feedback must motivate those involved in the process of interaction in a DE course to face the challenges within the possibilities, while minimizing frustration, aligning expectations, re-planning and learning more (Perrenoud, 1999).
Self-evaluation explores the perception that the individual holds of himself or of his performance at certain activities in the process of learning and building of the knowledge involved. Whatever such knowledge is, it is important to stress that as the main index the background for all other competences, which characterize the profile of the innovative agent in DE, lies in understanding the problems of the community as the challenges for personal and professional self-fulfillment.
However, other competences no less important in their ensemble do characterize the seven steps of the infinite movement in the methodology that puts in practice the profile of the innovative agent. They are: (1) to perceive possibilities to materialize innovative idea; (2) to understand the strategic plan of the process of achievement of the established goals; (3) to put in practice goals, ideas and objectives; (4) to evaluate results from the analysis of planned and unexpected procedures; (5) to perceive new opportunities; (6) to persist in the continuity of the process while paying attention to the ruptures (Moraes; Vieira; Pereira, 2009).
The questionnaire of the attitudinal self-evaluation makes available a set of behavioral abilities that must comprise the profile of the innovative agent in DE, and which were chosen to help the student in the perceptive practice during the discipline. Thus, it offers to the student the movement of abilities facing the following attitudes: search for information; relation to the practice; organization of information; record of information and experience; cooperation; observation and attention; planning; constructive criticism; accepting criticism; ethics; punctuality; creativity; cooperation; humbleness; motivation; involvement in the whole process; persistence and autonomy
The experiment was conducted along the discipline “Research Techniques in the Course on Specialization in Public Management Control” that aims at giving to the students those necessary elements for the organization and execution of scientific works, focusing on the principles of scientific methodology, while reinforcing to the students the significance of collaboration and cooperation among pears in academic research and production. A hundred and thirty students took part in the research, distributed in 4 poles in three Brazilian states – Santa Catarina (SC), Rio Grande do Sul (RS) and Roraima (RR). One must note that these three states hold very peculiar characteristics, with the first two in the south of Brazil and the third located in the north.
The questionnaire was applied along 4 stages: the first one was carried out in the period that came before the first unit of content offered in the discipline, while the fourth stage was during the delivery by the students of the last activity of evaluation. The second and third stages were distributed according to the time and activities proposed for de development of the contents at issue. The “significant” insertion in the set of the evaluation system proposed in the teaching plan aimed at minimizing the bias and lack of sincerity that may occur. Thus, self-evaluations would always receive the highest grade (10) as the questionnaires were delivered, and never based on the quality of the answers. Before ending the discipline tables and graphics were delivered to the students who took part in at least three self-evaluations, so that they could make and send their respective self-analyses to the DE team. No grade was attributed to self-analysis, but it was used as an individual feedback for the teacher on the perception by the student on his or her own performance.
As for the graphic scale used to follow the performance in continuous movement and contradiction five indicators were defined, varying from 1 through 5, meaning ‘never’, ‘almost never,’ ‘regularly,’ ‘almost always’ and ‘always.’ The period would correspond to the specified time between one questionnaire and the next. The fluctuation of the values that were attributed functioned as a “mirror” for the movement of defined abilities, which work in certain time period and according to the context of the discipline. The scale allowed the elaboration of graphics aiming at making easy the perception and follow up of the performance of the student at different moments, as well as his or her personal strategic planning.
The focus of the analysis of the results by the student was the innovative profile suggested in face of the student’s own expectation about what would be an ideal performance, that is, the greater or lesser fulfillment of his or her own expectation is what gives to the student a percentage of self-fulfillment. From the 130 students enrolled 120 attended the discipline Research Techniques. However, not all of them answered the self-evaluation questionnaires. There was also a decrease in the number of participants along the discipline, which demanded the delivery of a Research Project for its conclusion. The variation was of 92.5% of answers in the first self-evaluation; 98.33% for the second one; 76.6% for the third and 60.83% for the fourth questionnaire. Here one can assume that the time made available for the main production in the discipline, the research project, was prioritized by the students.
One observes on Figure 1 the result of the attitudinal profile of the innovative student in the discipline; an average performance of 54.3% among those who employ the abilities presented. Here the variation of answers along the four questionnaires was not considered, but only the total amount.
Figure 1: Percentage of the attitudinal average of all who answered the questionnaires
Here, in the percentage of attitudes, one can see that the involvement of the student in the general project of DE, in terms of the great group at UAB corresponds to 30%. It is also possible to perceive that although 62% see themselves as humble, only 36% share their findings and doubts with their colleagues, and that only 33% have the initiative of helping their study groups. From that it is possible to see that the attitudes of collaboration and cooperation appear in contradiction, as it should be expected in the profile of the exercise.
Such a contradiction and the resulting necessary effort in face of the need to make the student understand the problems of the community as challenges for his or her own self-fulfillment do justify the use of the information found in the AVEA for the final analysis of his or her performance as an innovative student in DE. Such a random choice demonstrated, at an individual level, the same contradiction expressed by the great group. In the critical synthesis one of the questions in the questionnaire of self-evaluation the student had the opportunity to evaluate his or her motivational autonomy in relation to the issue of interaction with the group. At first, in the discipline, one student considered himself “very motivated and I don’t find much difficulty to interact.” His answer changed in the next tow questionnaires. Then, he considered that “in spite of the importance of interaction with the group and the DE community, I depend more on the guidance and planning of the teacher, tutor and others.” However, in his last critical synthesis in that discipline he considered himself “aware of the significance, but with great difficulty to interact with the group.”
By the end of the discipline the utility of the methodology with the inclusion of the questionnaires of attitudinal self-evaluation was also assessed by means of a poll made available at the AVEA and answered by 52% of the students. One should observe that such a percentage refers to the invitation that was made to all students in the discipline (120), and not only to those who answered to three or four questionnaires. One of the questions referred to the number of students and of questionnaires answered. By adding the percentage of those who answered three or four times one finds 92% of students who had enough material to perceive the movement of his or her performance.
However, the Figure bellow presents the use of the methodological procedure that involves self-evaluation along the discipline on Research Techniques as an indication for continuing to use it with other students and disciplines.
Figure 2: Self-evaluation along the discipline on Research Techniques
One observes the answers “yes” for questions 6 (89%) and 1 (90%) as great success. In question 5, 85% of the students claim to have made the relation between their different punctuations for attitudinal performance with elements present in different moments in their quotidian lives and with their performances as students at a distance. Such a perception of intervening variables in their learning process and process of adequation to the proposed profile of innovative agent in DE favors their adequation to the whole process, and stimulates strategic changes in their planning to reach their goals, as they were established in the beginning of the courses they attend.
The objective in question 4 (Figure 2) was to verify if the student was able to relate the competences belonging to the ideal profile at the final analysis to his or her own profile. There was 76% of “yes” and 24% of “no”. Considering the level of difficulty in making such a relation, in addition to those inherent difficulties to the building of a research project, such a percentage seems satisfactory. In question 2, 34% answered “no” to the receiving of the results of the self-evaluation (graphics and tables), and 66% did receive the material organized by the tutors, both face-to-face and at a distance. Such a result seems to value the results by those students who answered “yes” to question 4, since at least 10% may have had success in making the relation between their behavior and the proposed profile, only answering the questionnaires or by means of the planned activities in the discipline, which also included the practice of the profile at issue. In addition, at the end 37.5% of the students sent self-evaluations, which deserved a feedback by the teacher. Such percentages of participation are considered satisfactory, given that it was not obligatory, nor was graded.
The self-evaluation model here presented showed to be pertinent to the formation of the necessary profile for a student in DE. The learning process, conducted along seven steps and which involved self-evaluation during the discipline was capable of producing results that offer opportunities and important elements to study at a distance, as autonomy, collaboration and cooperation.
The initial idea, as a first step for a student to learn research techniques and to make his or her project, was followed by the step of validation of the idea, which had as a measure not only the academic needs, but also the needs in his or her field of knowledge in relation to his or her times, country, region, etc. in the third step the student had to plan how to dohis or her work, and to choose the adequate Partner for the successful execution of the research theme, which was shared with colleagues, tutors, teachers and advisers. The evaluation, as the sixth step, demanded attention to the advantages offered by the participation in the process, in terms of enlarging the students’ abilities in their profile as professionals and researchers. That sixth step, enriched by the final analysis of the self-evaluations, allowed the reorganization of the group and increased the assurance for the continuity of the process of learning to become a researcher and to end successfully their graduate course. The constant resuming of projects and accomplishments came as the seventh and last step, which in practice leads to the beginning, but with attitudinal values aggregated to the new ideas that will take part in the new psycho-cognitive cycle to come.
One believes that self-management of competences based on such a methodological approach will contribute to help the students to manage their performances as they find the variables that have interfered in their motivation and learning in face of their own performances in different moments and conditions. With that kind of support the student shall be able to overcome challenges according to the existing possibilities, re-planning and learning more.
In addition, the challenge of self-perception did place the student as the fundamental actor in the learning process. And according to the results presented, the student was also placed at the center of self-evaluation, thus making possible an increase in self-knowledge, leading to a better understanding of the significance of commitment with change and cooperation. As the students accept the role of the main actor, they also take on their role as innovative agents and as entrepreneurs in their own formation.
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1Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil –firstname.lastname@example.org