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Modern Education
Reference:

Ways to Reduce the Duration of Study at the University

Gelman Viktor

Doctor of Technical Science

Professor, Department of Medical Informatics and Physics, North-Western State Medical University named after I. I. Mechnikov

191015, Russia, Saint Petersburg, Kirochnaya str., 41

gelm@sg2104.spb.edu
Other publications by this author
 

 

DOI:

10.25136/2409-8736.2022.4.39381

EDN:

FQGJIH

Received:

12-12-2022


Published:

31-12-2022


Abstract: At present, periods of technological change are becoming comparable to the duration of education in higher education. Therefore, along with the need to use the concept of lifelong education, there is a need to reduce the duration of obtaining basic higher education. Analysis and identification of possible ways to reduce the duration of study at a university while maintaining the required level of graduates' education is the subject of this article. The methodological basis of the work is the integration and generalization of previous studies to improve the effectiveness of training. The article discusses in detail the following complementary ways: changing the content of education and the use of new, more effective teaching methods. It is shown that the reduction of overall time of studying in university while maintaining the required level of education can only be achieved by the joint application of various approaches. The following complementary ways are proposed: changing (optimizing) the content of basic professional knowledge, using more effective teaching methods and individualized learning, reducing auxiliary (transactional) costs for students and increasing the level of motivation of students. More effective teaching methods, in particular, involve improving the lecture system, monitoring progress, and optimizing the speed of introducing new material in group classes. Taking into account the concept of continuous education, a certain fundamental educational background obtained at the university can subsequently be supplemented with short-term modules in the course of additional professional education.


Keywords:

term of study, university, reduction of terms, technological progress, teaching methods, efficiency, content correction, individualization of learning, increased motivation, lower ancillary costs

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

IntroductionThe rapid development of technology is changing business, politics and society.

Technologies are developing at a tremendous speed, and society is forced to constantly catch up with them. The same applies, in particular, to the education system, including higher professional education.

Periods of technological change are becoming comparable to the duration of higher education. While students finish classical education within five to six years, the technologies that were used before are already outdated and new ones are coming to replace them. Accordingly, the knowledge acquired by the student becomes obsolete by the time of graduation from the university.

One of the ways to solve this problem is offered by the concept of continuing education [1], when further periodic professional retraining of specialists and independent development of their professional skills throughout life are assumed.

On the other hand, there is also a need to shorten the terms of study at the university. Many higher education workers paid attention to this [for example, 2] during Russia's entry into the Bologna Process in 2003. However, as practice has shown, a bachelor in 4 years has not become equal to a specialist with five years of training [3]. This happened, among other things, because the transition occurred due to the formal reduction of school hours with the same teaching methods.

At the same time, the capabilities of a person (in terms of learning speed, perception of information) have practically not changed, and it took mastering more information during higher professional education. Thus, in order to reduce the duration of training, it is necessary to increase the resulting conditional speed of mastering the educational material by students.   This can be achieved only by changing the approaches to the training itself, reducing the associated, unproductive expenditure of effort and time (transaction costs).

Therefore, in order to ensure comparable quality of training in less time, it is necessary to use special approaches for more effective training. This is also noted by the rector of the University 2035 V. V. Medvedev [4], who believes that the era of rapid training in Russia may begin in the next 5-7 years, which will require changes in teaching methods.

Thus, the problem of reducing the duration of vocational training while ensuring the required quality remains. Therefore, new approaches to learning should be introduced, conducted against the background of accelerating technological development, which will reduce the duration of obtaining basic higher education. At the same time, it should be noted that the hopes previously pinned on distance education [5], as the main and only new methodology that increases the effectiveness of training, also did not justify themselves. This has been shown by the practice of distance learning during the coronavirus epidemic [6].

The purpose of the work is to analyze possible ways to reduce the duration of study at the university, while maintaining the necessary level of graduate training.

The methodological basis of the work was the integration and generalization of previously conducted research on improving the effectiveness of training.

Results and discussionIt can be assumed that improving the effectiveness of training is possible in almost all elements of the educational process.

Let's consider the main possible ways that will reduce the duration of students' studies at the university, while maintaining the necessary level of graduate training.

Correction of the training content. University education should provide a certain level of professional basic knowledge [7], less than in previous years, but sufficient to get rid of constant dependence on the Internet, even in the simplest cases. This level should provide opportunities in the course of professional activity to make current decisions and draw informed conclusions.

Therefore, due to the need to reduce the duration of training and facilitate access to information on the Internet, there is a problem of the volume of basic professional knowledge. Of course, nowadays everything can be found on the Internet, calculated on a calculator. However, there is a certain minimum required amount of basic knowledge. You can't rely on a calculator and the Internet all the time. Usually current decisions are made on the basis of qualitative assessments and available own knowledge. This is what a set of basic knowledge is needed for. There is a certain basic invariant of system-forming professional knowledge, without which a student will not be able to become an elementary competent specialist.

At the same time, the organization of knowledge should be carried out so that they are in the system, being united by causal relationships between phenomena, providing knowledge of general laws and professional principles ("knowledge of some principles easily compensates for ignorance of some facts" K. A. Helvetii).

At the same time, the impact of the development of information technologies leads to the possibility of reducing the level of detail of basic knowledge, and, accordingly, the need to increase the level of their relationship and interaction with external sources of information that will need to be dealt with in the course of further work, such as decision support systems (DSS) and information and reference systems (ISS) by specialty.

Thus, the basic speculative model should provide knowledge of the general laws and principles of professional activity, allowing, if necessary, to carry out the required detail, assuming further interaction with decision support systems and information and reference systems in the specialty.

The use of more effective teaching methods. These can include improving the effectiveness of teaching, optimizing the speed of submission of new material in group classes and individualization of learning.

Improving the lecture system. First of all, the increase in teaching efficiency is associated with a change in the lecture system [8]. Lectures in the classical form are becoming obsolete. Previously, it made sense, due to the small number of carriers of professional knowledge and the need for a large coverage of student listeners during the lecture. Now the situation has changed, access to information has become easier.

It should be emphasized that there is no single universal approach to reforming the lecture system. As possible ways to improve it, we can consider: modification of lectures by combining them with practical classes, seminars; partial or complete rejection of the traditional lecture system with the replacement of lectures by independent work of students with distance courses and educational material; free choice of a lecture course by students.

 It seems that, where possible, it is advisable to combine lectures with practical classes [8], giving the necessary theoretical information during practice and assuming, if necessary, obtaining details from the Internet. Accordingly, the number of students in the group should be reduced to 20-30 people. At the same time, working with relatively small groups of students facilitates the possibilities of an individual approach. At the same time, when lectures are combined with practical classes, methodological, semantic and organizational problems arise (for example, the number of teachers should be increased).

It can also be considered that the free choice of a lecture course can be the first step towards reforming the lecture system.

Noting the urgent need to improve the lecture system, it is necessary to take into account the problems that arise in this case. There are certain disadvantages and limitations of abandoning the traditional lecture system and the problems that arise with the organization of independent work of students, the current control of their work and the remuneration of teachers. Therefore, possible approaches to solving emerging problems in the ways of reforming the lecture system under consideration should be investigated.

Academic performance monitoring.An important place in the process of improving and intensifying learning is the monitoring of academic performance, both current and final [9]. In the context of a competence-based approach and a reduced number of classroom training hours, in our opinion, the functions of performance monitoring should be significantly expanded: the emphasis should be shifted from the evaluation function to the teaching one.

So, the current control, in addition to control functions, should contribute to the individualization of learning, the development of independence, the ability to search for information, analyze it, conduct a discussion and defend your point of view.  During practical classes in an interactive (interactive) mode, it is necessary to identify mistakes made by students and encourage students to correct them independently. The teacher should strive to indicate errors in the results of work, and not ways to eliminate them, which the student should learn to look for independently (iterative approach [10]). The questions asked additionally to the completed exercise should be aimed at controlling the understanding of the results and should not have direct answers in the instructions for the task.

In our opinion, the possibilities of the current remote control of the teacher over the trainees through network means of access to their computers are less effective, due to the disrupted process of live interaction between the teacher and the student. The same applies to tests. In addition, tests can only have an auxiliary value, since they perform an exclusively control function.

Final control should also be considered as an element of the learning process. During the exam (test), the student should be able to fill in the missing knowledge. Therefore, when controlling knowledge, it makes sense to allow students to repeat attempts, use reference, educational literature, the Internet, and not test the quality of memorization. At the same time, the student additionally studies unclear issues of the discipline in conditions of increased motivation.

It is advisable to make demands only on the result, and not on the availability of notes, attendance of classes, etc. Methods of controlling processes related to student learning can be attributed to ineffective ones: attending lectures, seminars, practical classes, etc. The latter, controlling processes only indirectly related to the quality of education, have low selectivity and do not increase motivation to study, and, being overly actively used by the university administration, can create certain hindrances to students' studies.

As for the monitoring of academic performance by third-party teachers, this objectifies the level of control, significantly complicates the process and does not lead to an acceleration of learning.

Optimization of the speed of submission of new material in group classes. Often, with the spread of the level of training of students, the teacher has a problem of choosing the pace of presentation of educational material [11]. This becomes essential when it is necessary to give a certain amount of educational material for a relatively small, limited study time. The objective function here is to maximize the total amount of knowledge, skills and abilities acquired by students in the group during the lesson. It is shown [11] that the optimal value of the rate of presentation of educational material depends on the type of distribution of the speed of perception of students, the degree of dispersion of the speeds of perception of students in the group and the value of the minimum speed of perception. The range of changes in the optimal feed rate of the material can vary from the perception speed of the weakest student to half the speed of the strongest student. Moreover, the greater the spread of the perception speed in the group and the lower the perception speed of the weakest student, the closer to the median value of the perception speed is the optimal rate of presentation of educational material, and the smaller the spread and the higher the perception speed of the weakest, the greater the coverage of the trainees should ensure the speed of presentation of the material, striving for full coverage of all students in the group [11].

Individualization of training. Here, first of all, we are talking about individual learning trajectories (including within the course; the choice of training courses in a larger volume than at present).

As a rule, an individualized approach covers all forms of learning: when what is heard at lectures is then analyzed and worked out in practical classes, concretized during independent work, checked in the process of monitoring progress. Moreover, the emphasis here is shifting towards practical and seminar classes. Therefore, individualization of training is more relevant to practical classes, although it also takes place to a certain extent when mastering theoretical material [12].

The sequence of training tasks must be strictly maintained, moving from simple to complex. At the same time, in the initial period of training, a new section in practical classes has to use tasks of a sequential, step-by-step nature with a "prescription" presentation of actions, with constant supervision of the teacher at each workplace [13]. In order for students to study most effectively, the tasks should slightly exceed their current level of knowledge and skills. The student can cope with the task only with the help of methodological guidelines, a teacher, fellow students and additional independent work. The support of the student by the teacher throughout the training is an important component of a personalized approach. At the same time, the more prepared a student is in the discipline being studied, the greater the role of independent actions and the less he needs the support of a teacher to perform educational tasks.

There are a number of necessary conditions, without which it is difficult to talk about individualization of training. First of all, this applies to the number of students in groups (up to 20-25 people) and the availability of educational equipment in the classroom for each student. Further, it is necessary to constantly monitor the correct execution of tasks and understanding of the meaning of the work done by each student during the answers to the teacher's questions, that is, a student-teacher feedback loop should be created during the implementation of the iterative approach [10]. The student can proceed to the next task only after the teacher accepts the previous task.

The experience of practical classes convinces us of the need to create task packages (tasks) focused on taking into account the degree of preparedness of students, the peculiarities of perception of the material they study, the curriculum, etc. Perhaps someone will complete more tasks or start with simpler ones. As a result, during the practical lesson, each student works on his task. At the same time, lagging students can be given homework for additional independent study.

It is obvious that the learning process should be individualized to the maximum extent and take into account the psychophysiological characteristics of the student. As a result of such individualization, the time of the learning process can also be reduced by speeding up the work of the weakest students.

Reduction of auxiliary (transaction) costs for students.  Another direction of reducing the duration of training is to reduce the time and effort of students for auxiliary actions related to the learning process, but not directly related to the study of educational material.

First of all, this includes facilitating access to educational materials, in particular, on the Internet [14]: access to lecture presentations and materials of practical classes; simplification of obtaining educational and methodological literature.

Also important is the availability of information on organizational issues on the university's website: facilitating access to the schedule; background information on the organization of the educational process; messages about changes; the opportunity before the course to familiarize yourself with the plan, content and scope of the course; type of assignments, deadlines for individual assignments; to the plan and scope of practical classes; materials for preparing for the next lesson (lectures, practical classes, seminars); opportunities for consultations and communication with teachers; questions for tests, exams.

Wherever this does not reduce the quality of education, it is necessary to use elements of distance learning [14], for example, the necessary tests can be performed from home.

Increasing the level of motivation of students. From the point of view of increasing the efficiency and speed of learning, the possibilities of increasing the motivation of students to study at the university should also be taken into account [15].

It assumes a combination of two ways: increasing external motivation (influence of the organization of the educational process, quality control of training)  and internal motivation (due to the development of interest in the profession, teaching methods). Although the emphasis on external motivation, as a rule, leads to the targeting of students to study for the sake of grades, nevertheless, the student should, based on concrete examples, clearly imagine the possibility of expulsion in case of unsatisfactory academic performance. However, the main attention should be paid to increasing the role of approaches that enhance students' internal motivation.

Thus, in order to reduce the duration of training while maintaining the required quality of training, the following complementary ways can be proposed: correction (optimization) of the content of basic professional knowledge, the use of more effective teaching methods, individualization of training, reduction of auxiliary (transaction) costs for students and increasing the level of motivation of trainees.

ConclusionThe rapid development of technology leads to the need to shorten the terms of study at the university.

The article analyzes possible ways to reduce the duration of the educational process. It is shown that the reduction of training time while maintaining the required level of training can be achieved only by the joint application of various approaches. The following complementary ways are considered: correction (optimization) of the content of basic professional knowledge, the use of more effective teaching methods, individualization of training, reduction of auxiliary (transaction) costs for students and increasing the level of motivation of trainees. More effective teaching methods, in particular, involve improving the lecture system, monitoring progress and optimizing the speed of submission of new material in group classes.

Taking into account the concept of continuing education, a certain fundamental educational foundation obtained at the university can later be supplemented with short-term modules in the course of additional professional education. Therefore, it can be assumed that in the near future, new specialists will have a shorter training period due to increased teaching efficiency, personalized training with attention to specific individual qualities of the student and, in the future, enhanced professional retraining.

 

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The object of research in this article is the educational programs of universities, the subject is the potential possibilities of their reduction. This question is certainly relevant, since it arises essentially from the contradiction between the apparent acceleration of the technical possibilities of information exchange and the unchanging psychophysiological capabilities of the average person in learning. The identification of specific ways to reduce the duration of training without possible loss of quality represents elements of novelty, primarily of a practical nature. The main method of research is descriptive pedagogical analysis with elements of synthesis, the latter implies the identification of specific directions in the work on the process under consideration with inherent special aspects. This is how we can talk about the method of differentiation in the combined tools of this work. The study is written in a language that generally corresponds to the norms of scientific style, taking into account the polemic and real problematic nature of the topic, it may arouse interest among a very wide pedagogical audience. The list of references corresponds to the topic of the work from a meaningful point of view. There are a number of important observations on the article, both structural and substantive. Structural. The work lacks a theoretical part in a scientific and analytical understanding, in particular, representing an analysis of the points of view of various authors who have studied this issue. Given the controversy of the latter, this would be especially relevant. Meaningful. All remarks of this kind boil down to the fact that the material in the work is extremely generalized. Firstly, shortening the training period, for example, for a surgeon and a manager, are issues that require reflection through completely different prisms. Therefore, it is desirable to disclose such a topic either with initial concretization regarding educational programs, or to give in the text a large number of examples regarding specific programs, profiles, specialties, professions, etc. with their meaningful differentiation in terms of shortening the duration of training. Despite the importance of general theoretical understanding, we still adhere to the opinion that shortening the duration of educational programs is a purely educational and methodological issue. That is why an article with such content should start from the specific structural problems of drawing up curricula. Indeed, in this case, the practical question is relevant, due to which components of the educational program it is most rational to carry out its temporary reduction without loss of quality. The author's suggestions certainly deserve attention, but in an overly generalized form they cannot bridge the way to practice. These remarks impoverish the text from a meaningful point of view, but taking into account the relevance of the topic, the general logic of the work and the relatively original author's reflections, the quality of the manuscript can be generally assessed as acceptable. The article meets the minimum requirements for works of this kind and can be published in a peer-reviewed educational publication.
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