Facilitated teaching

In order to support and stimulate the student’s actions, imagination and mind-set (the inner elements), the outer elements of the DesUni model create a learning environment that assists teachers in constructing an educational setting in which students are likely to use their imagination, act and adopt a design-oriented mind-set in their work with the curriculum. The five outer factors guide teachers in designing a design-oriented educational setting, with the intention of changing the student’s expectations from being passive receivers of theoretical knowledge, to becoming active creators of knowledge and primary agents in their own teaching process.

Facilitated teaching is, in DesUni learning, about student-centred learning, and the role of the teacher is to facilitate the students’ knowledge development process. The teacher has to create an education environment that inspires and supports students in creating and navigating in the light of wicked problems, and thus an unknown future. Due to the wickedness of the problems, the teacher cannot be a pilot flying the students from A to B on a predefined journey. Students learn by doing: through interaction with teachers, stakeholders, interdisciplinary knowledge, design methods, boundary objects, etc.

The DesUni facilitator is, however, not performing one well-defined role. Therefore the teacher has to explore and co-create problems and solutions together with the students. Teachers sometimes have to let students reflect on what they learn by doing, and sometimes the teacher has to help them make sense of what they learn.

The teacher’s role is therefore continually changing depending upon the distinctive requirements of the learning situation.

Importantly, depending on the flow of the learning process (and of course the learning styles of different students), the teacher has to be flexible and continually move in and out of different facilitator roles. In particular, depending upon how predictable, in terms of outcome, the particular step of the learning outcome is, the teacher has to step into different roles. The DesUni facilitator guide illustrates six images of facilitating associated with various degrees of learning outcome predictability (Table 3).

Table 2. The teacher’s role. Inspired by: Palmer, I; Dunford, R and Akin G. (2009) Mapping Orgainzational Change – A Multiple Perspectives Approach

The first three of the images in the table are related to traditional teacher-centred learning in which the teacher takes control of the learning situation. The remaining three images are related more to facilitating, and thus shaping teaching styles that give room for student-centred learning. However, the DesUni learning processes vary according to the degree of predictability, which depends for instance, on whether students work with discovering existing problems, or envisioning new futures. In terms of learning processes in which the outcome is relatively predictable, the facilitating teacher becomes the coach that supports the students in achieving this outcome. In situations of partly predictable learning outcomes, the facilitating teacher is more of an interpreter who continually helps students to make sense of, and legitimise, what they learn in the chaotic DesUni learning process. In situations of very unpredictable learning outcomes, the facilitating teacher may enter the role of a nurturer. One task of the nurturer is to take good care of the students who are likely to be frustrated. DesUni learning processes are often very unpredictable in terms of outcome, since they work with wicked problems that require experimentation with novel problem and solution spaces. In this way the teacher works towards shaping robust students that are able to take responsibility for their own learning in an unpredictable, fuzzy and unknown learning situation.