New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 13

Accepted Abstracts

Recognition of Prior Learning and Blended Learning as Methods of Motivating University Students of Natural Sciences

Satu Tuomainen, University of Eastern Finland (Finland)


Recognition of prior learning is an educational principle whereby students have the right to have their non-formally and informally acquired prior learning recognised as part of their studies, including university education. Blended learning, on the other hand, is a common learning mode in higher education which combines the use of online learning and face-to-face classroom learning. This presentation introduces the use of recognition practices in pre-course assessment and blended learning as the course mode for Finnish university students of Natural Sciences in their academic English studies. The purpose of these two methods is to motivate and engage students through the validation of their prior learning and through flexible and reflective learning in blended learning environments.

Finnish university students have compulsory studies in academic and field-specific English as part of their Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. In Natural Sciences, including Applied Physics, Computer Science, Environmental Science and Biosciences, students study extensively through English and they may have acquired the required skills in academic English elsewhere. Therefore, to motivate students and to allow for a flexible and expedited progression with their studies, students are provided the opportunity to participate in pre-course exemption examinations for their academic and field-specific English reading, writing and presentation skills to assess and potentially validate their prior learning. Students who attend the courses are offered the blended learning option, where most of the learning takes place in an online environment, with some contact meetings on campus.

Based on my research, Finnish university students appreciate the chance to demonstrate their prior learning with the exemption examination process and view it as a critical time-saving element in their studies. Similarly, students who take part in the blended learning courses also appreciate the flexibility and convenience of blended learning. In my presentation I will introduce the implementation of the recognition of prior learning and blended learning and student perceptions of these two processes in the context of academic English for Natural Sciences.


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