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Integrating Contemplative And Student-Centered Education

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Two important movements/paradigms have developed in higher education over the last ten to twenty years. The first reflects a growing interest within colleges and universities in student-centered educational practices that involve the utilization of a variety of active pedagogical approaches with the goal of deepening student learning. The second reflects a growing interest among many students, faculty and staff in more experiential and personal approaches to spirituality that are outside the realm of organized religion, and involves integrating---to a lesser or greater extent---a variety of spiritual/contemplative perspectives and practices into academic and extra-curricular programs. This dissertation---a cross-case study of two of the leading institutions whose educational missions incorporate a contemplative/spiritually oriented educational approach---describes the emerging paradigm of contemplative/spiritually oriented higher education. It also explores the ways in which the teaching-learning methods at these two institutions enhance and complement a student-centered educational approach. The research findings indicate broadly that contemplative/spiritual teaching-learning approaches do indeed complement student-centered approaches and that these two approaches are likely to prove synergistic---i.e., when used together, these approaches foster student learning on a deeper level than might occur when either approach is used alone. The findings also indicate that spiritual/contemplative approaches to education support and enhance the development of a number of important traditional academic skills such as critical and objective thinking, textual analysis, and problem-solving, as well as important affective qualities such as emotional intelligence, commitment to social engagement, a sense of purpose, the ability to listen deeply, compassion, meta-cognition, the ability to cooperate, and welcoming diversity. Furthermore, spiritual/contemplative approaches foster creativity and innovative thinking. Finally, conventional academic governance structures and qualitative approaches to outcomes assessment in higher education can effectively accommodate this emerging, unconventional approach to teaching and learning. Given the wide diversity of higher education institutions, it is neither practical nor necessarily advisable to incorporate a spiritual/contemplative dimension into every program and institution. The research findings in this dissertation indicate, however, that higher education practitioners who are seeking ways to promote deep student learning should consider exploring the option of integrating spiritual/contemplative and student-centered educational approaches.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781244035829
  • Publisher: BiblioLabsII
  • Publication date: 9/11/2011
  • Pages: 302
  • Product dimensions: 7.44 (w) x 9.69 (h) x 0.63 (d)

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