What is phenomenon-based learning? Is it just a fad without proper content or a robust way to promote multifaceted learning?

Phenomenon-based learning is a familiar word for many, a hot potato which has been used in media both positively when focussing on child-oriented learning and negatively when worrying about excessive focus on self-guidance.

I am writing my dissertation on the design of phenomenon-based learning entities. In my research, I have analysed students’ plans for phenomenon-based learning entities created through participatory design. A common – and rather traditional – characteristic for the plans is narrativeness, which studies have shown to promote learning.

By creating phenomenon-based entities with the help of a planning model, students often create a story framework around the phenomenon. In phenomenon-based learning, students are guided to delve into the topic by utilising different learning methods and areas of knowledge. They can dig into the phenomenon through dramatic, narrative and inspiring roles or research methods.

In phenomenon-based learning, the curriculum is the core of planning, starting from the value basis of learning. Students are able to participate in the planning and evaluation of their own learning to the extent suitable for their age and skills.

The goals and contents of the curriculum’s subjects are used as a basis for creating suitable learning assignments that help to form an overall picture of the entity. Each student’s skills develop individually in line with the goals through active participation, collaboration, research and putting one’s mind to the matter.

Participatory design is the guiding force of phenomenon-based learning. Its purpose is to enable students to achieve learning objectives by cooperatively putting their minds to tasks that combine different disciplines and challenges in situations designed in relation to the phenomenon.

Learning deals with everyday topics and the student’s own experiences, the surrounding environment and the community . This activity enables the development of self-direction skills as well as interaction and teamwork skills.

Phenomenon-based learning is a method that emphasises authenticity and entities formed from different disciplines for everyday learning situations. It is learning by doing and exploring; it is problem oriented and taps one’s own expertise. The target of phenomenon-oriented learning is to enable multifaceted development of the student’s skills through entities.

The method gives the teacher room to be a professional who guides and encourages students to develop their individual learning skills. This helps students to determine the significance of what is being studied for their life, the community, society and, at its best, humanity as a whole.

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