From barriers to breakthroughs: Student experiences of the RRU Learning Model
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Royal Roads University’s (RRU) Learning and Teaching Model describes educational practices and program design features that promote transformational learning. While institutions or programs may espouse some elements of the Model, the process by which they were identified and drafted into a statement that both espouses and guides the University’s teaching and learning approach is, to our knowledge, unique in a higher education setting. A dean, and two faculty members set out to capture what made RRU’s learning and teaching approach distinctive, and engaged in successive discussions with faculty and staff members to deepen their understanding and ensure they captured learning practices across the University. The resulting document, Royal Roads University Learning and Teaching Model (Hamilton, Márquez, & Agger-Gupta, 2013) was vetted by faculty again before it was finalized (Márquez, personal communication, June 24, 2013). The resulting document described a unique and integrated educational approach and values. This educational approach often differs from what our students have experienced in their previous education. As faculty members, we have observed that new students may experience a learning curve associated with the University’s instructional practices and learning environment. While many students have told us that they were drawn to the philosophy of the University, they soon realized that their previous educational experiences and the way they have learned to learn did not prepare them for the learning and teaching expectations in many of the Royal Roads University programs. For instance, how does one co-create knowledge when he or she has only experienced learning as transmitted from a teacher-expert? How does one learn with student-peers in community when, a students’ previous experience of learning was a process between teacher and student? Or, how does one translate the traditional conception of academic rigour into an applied learning and research context? This paper explores RRU students’ experiences of learning to learn at RRU. We will identify ways that students reconcile tensions, conflicting beliefs, assumptions and values in order to more fully and effectively experience and benefit from RRU’s transformational learning approach.
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