1 Department of Curriculum Research, Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, Aarhus University2 Forskningsprogrammet for de videregående uddannelsers pædagogik, Danish School of Education, Aarhus University, Aarhus University3 Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Arts, Aarhus University4 Centre for Teaching Development and Digital Media, Arts, Aarhus University
an imperceptible category in higher education didacticsen overset kategori i videregående uddannelsers didaktik
Aim, content and methods are fundamental categories of both theoretical and practical general didactics. A quick glance in recent pedagogical literature on higher education, however, reveals a strong preoccupation with methods, i.e. how teaching should be organized socially (Biggs & Tang, 2007; Race, 2001; Ramsden, 2003). This trend appears closely related to the ‘from-teaching-to-learning’ movement, which has had a strong influence on pedagogy since the early nineties (Keiding, 2007; Terhart, 2003). Another interpretation of the current interest in methodology can be derived from a theoretical approach, which takes complexity as fundamental premise for modern society (Luhmann, 1985, 2002). In educational situations conditionally valuable content generally will exceed what can actually be taught within the frames of an education. In pedagogy this situation is often referred to as ‘abundance of material’, and in many cases it is not obvious, how the line between actually chosen and conditionally relevant content can be draw. Difficulties in drawing the line between actual educational content and conditionally relevant content can be handled in different way. One way, quite efficient, is subordinating content to methods as seen in modern didactics, hereby transforming content to a medium for achievement of learning-to-learn skills rather than something valuable in its own right. At the level of general didactics quite few attempts have been made to formulate criteria and categories for selection of content (Klafki, 1985, 2000; Myhre, 1961; Nielsen, 2006). These attempts all share one feature, which is that criteria for selection of content appear very general and often, more or less explicitly, deal with teaching at the first Bologna-cycle; i.e. schooling at the primary and lower secondary levels. In subject matter didactics, the question of content is more developed, but it is still mostly confined to teaching on lower levels. As for higher education didactics, discussions on selection of content are almost non-existent on the programmatic level. Nevertheless, teachers are forced to make decisions about content in their everyday planning. This raises the question how teachers in higher education decide whether or not a given content should be included in their course. The present survey is part of a larger project aiming to analyze the dynamics of formation of content /the planned curriculum, in higher education, and to generate analytical categories and criteria for selection of content, which can be used for systematic didactical reflection. The larger project also concerns reflection on and clarification of the concept of content, including the relation between content at the level of curriculum, content at the level of teacher planning, content in teaching as interaction and content as learned by the students. The research question of the present survey is: Which criteria do junior teachers apply in their selection of course content? The analytical strategy is theoretically based on systems theory as formulated by Niklas Luhmann (Luhmann, 1995; 2002) and on own work, where. Luhmann’s general ideas and concepts of the educational system are transposed into a didactical framework (Keiding, 2005,2007,2008).