Re-designing university courses to support collaborative knowledge creation practices

Minna Lakkala, Auli Toom, Liisa Ilomäki, Hanni Muukkonen


Higher education institutions should not only aim to educate academic experts who master their own fields, but also give their students generic skills important in contemporary society. New teaching methods are required to support the development of such skills. The study examined how a group of voluntary university lecturers re-designed their courses by applying theory-based pedagogical design principles emphasising object-oriented, collaborative knowledge creation supported by digital technology. The primary data consisted of lecturer interviews and students’ written post-evaluations from three courses. The re-designed courses included broader thematic assignments, more cumulative knowledge production in groups and more diverse use of technology than prior course iterations. Both the lecturers and students addressed the learning outcomes in positive terms, but collaborative knowledge production was more evident in two courses designed according to authentic professional practices. Students generally valued the working methods, although they also pointed out weaknesses in the tasks, course structuring and group work. The lecturers experienced some difficulties in guiding students’ productive group work. The pedagogical design principles worked well as conceptual tools in the intervention process, but they should be complemented with recommendations for teachers on modelling authentic professional practices and methods of scaffolding students’ collaborative knowledge creation efforts.


Education, University, Knowledge creation, Design principles

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