Chapter 24 Taking ownership: active learning and student engagement
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This chapter focuses on the theme of ‘taking ownership’; that is, the assumption of responsibility for one’s own learning. As a process it demands significant commitment, but has the potential to reap many benefits in terms of motivation and student engagement, which in turn may lead to greater understanding and enhanced learning. We develop the argument in four parts, starting by exploring the subversion of traditional hierarchical structures, drawing out the distinction between teaching and learning, constructivism and the creation of knowledge. Second, we examine the implications of taking ownership for the student as subject, for the lecturer as tutor and mentor, and for the construction and use of learning spaces. Third, we illustrate the discussion with three case studies to encourage those who wish to develop their own classroom practices: problem-based learning; undergraduate research; and living laboratories. We conclude by drawing the threads together to show how taking ownership enables lifelong learning and encourages the elastic and creative thinking skills required for navigating the challenges of the Anthropocene. The theme also has implications for authorship, and we discuss these implications as a combined student/staff writing team.

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